The batteries for driving that electric motor live under the rear seats and, although they don’t eat into boot space, they do protrude into the rear legroom. Passengers in the rear will notice the awkward bulge pressing against the backs of their legs in an otherwise spacious and comfortable car.
Toyota has done a terrific job with the ride and handling. The chassis is direct, steering light and car stable, even in the strongest of winds and heaviest of rain. Potholes are barely felt by occupants and around town, and the drivetrain allows for almost silent if sedate progress.
Venture out of town and the Yaris has enough power to maintain progress at the cost of some refinement. The CVT-like gearbox makes for constant high-revving from the engine when building speed to join a motorway, overtake or accelerate uphill. It’s made all the more noticeable by this car’s near-silent EV mode driving and can come at quite a shock.
Acceleration isn’t this car’s strong point. You’ll be waiting 11.8 seconds before reaching 60mph from rest, with peak power being delivered in a noisy, slightly strained fashion. You quickly learn how to get the best from this car’s engine set-up and how to avoid the sound of a revving engine, but as most buyers will be using this car around town, you’ll enjoy mostly silent travel. And economical travel, too. 80mpg isn’t realistic in our test experience, but 60mpg certainly is - if you familiarise yourself with the car’s regenerative braking and keep your usage mostly urban.
Should I buy one?
Yes - if you are in the market for a small hatchback for town use and economy features highly amongst your priorities. Although £16,995 isn’t cheap, the generous kit levels and low running costs of the Yaris cushion the blow.
Supermini hybrids are still rare, but they make strong sense – and this is a good one. Small cars are still most commonly brought with petrol engines, as you’ll never see the true economy out of a diesel around town. Add an electric motor into the mix and you’ve got a car that can perform silently, effortlessly and cleanly, and particularly efficiently where small cars are most often used.
Toyota Yaris Hybrid T Spirit
Price: £16,995; 0-62mph: 11.8sec; Top speed: 103mph; Economy: 76.3mpg); CO2: 85g/km; Kerb weight: 1085kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1497cc, petrol, plus electric motor; Combined power: 98bhp: Torque: 82lb ft (petrol engine), 125 lb ft (electric motor); Gearbox: CVT