Using two electric motors, the Yaris Cross will run on electric-only power at low speeds although, as with most ‘self-charging’ hybrids, the battery holds enough charge for only about four miles. After that, the engine kicks in and, as with most CVT machines, heavy use of the throttle elicits a gruff, slightly coarse engine note. But that’s balanced by how quickly the engine is shut off when coasting, and it’s generally well suited to the sort of driving most likely buyers will partake in.
On the road, the hatchback roots of the Yaris Cross are quickly apparent, and in a good way. The steering is direct and responsive, making it superbly practical for urban manoeuvring and surprisingly engaging on faster, flowing roads. The chassis balance feels strong as well, and despite the boxy bodywork and stretching of the ride height, it’s generally stable and well balanced at all times. It’s all relative, mind: the Yaris Cross is clearly honed for stability rather than dynamism, and it can’t match the Puma for driver engagement. Still, it is another example of the real progress that has been made in improving the breed of a previously languid class of machine.
That said, the secondary ride of our test car was less positive, with a firm ride that could jar over potholes and other bumps. That could yet improve once the final suspension tuning is done, while another likely contributor was the 18in wheels on our test car: Toyota expects most UK buyers to plump for 16in or 17in versions.