Producing a sophisticated ‘big car’ ride quality was one of the key challenges that faced Toyota when developing the current Yaris. With the heavier Hybrid, the most important barometer of dynamic success is how well the manufacturer has preserved the balance of handling and ride.
The answer is: pretty well, really. Mechanical differences are minimal; the Hybrid features the same MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension as the standard car, but spring and damper rates have both been modified to compensate for the additional weight.
Toyota had already worked hard to reduce the noise and vibration of the distant chassis function, and that pays dividends in a hybrid which occasionally permits silent running.
With good rolling comfort, a 9.4-metre turning circle and light, frictionless steering, the Yaris remains an amiable if anonymous urban companion. Beyond the stop-start dirge of a city centre, however, it is less appealing, although blame for this can’t be laid entirely at the hybrid tech’s door.
Toyota’s packaging prowess has kept the battery within the wheelbase and mounted it as low as possible to retain a respectable centre of gravity, while weight distribution is almost identical to that of the 1.3 TR Yaris.
The extra heft is actually welcome because it makes the Hybrid feel slightly more substantial and less easily disturbed over smaller bumps. Dynamically the car is cautiously competent, but its economy-biased agenda is all-pervading. It is most evident in its contempt for quick changes of direction and the steering’s reluctance to convey any feedback at all.