Curvy, chunky and compact, the Toyota Yaris Cross is a car for the moment. Powered by a 1.5 litre three-cylinder petrol hybrid engine, the automatic five-door is designed to tackle the urban environment in what is a ridiculously competitive B-SUV segment. C02 missions for the crossover are low at 101g/km. The Yaris name is highly regarded and the compact urban hatchback is a multi award winner so is Toyota just taking a shortcut by giving its name to what is clearly a bigger car that could easily be a seperate model. The Yaris Cross is built on Toyota’s small car modular GA-B platform and benefits from production economies of scale – but with a starting price of €28,050, is it worth it?
The exterior styling is great, featuring enough detailing and rugged elements to make me happy while also managing to appear friendly and not in the slightest bit aggressive. The Yaris Cross has the same wheelbase (gap between its front and rear wheels) as the Yaris hatch but is 240mm longer – its added length comes from it bodywork, mostly at the front end. Toyota really did listen to the critics of its bland looking cars and its styling overall has blossomed from dull to interesting in just a few short years – the C-HR (from €31,880) was a seismic leap. The Yaris Cross sits higher off the road than a Yaris (+30mm) and this is managed through its suspension and wheels mostly.
Inside, Toyota’s “Big-Small” packaging delivers a cabin that can seat five, but four adults will find it comfortable. The boot capacity is a good-for-class 397 litres (111 litres more than Yaris hatch). There is a large amount of plastic and cheaper materials on show. The interior works well but for the asking price I expected more soft touch materials and in this regard the car fell short of expectations. The driving position is good with a commanding view of the road and all controls are within reach and easy to use – as you’d expect from the highly regarded giant Japanese brand. Toyota’s ‘Safety Sense’ safety features are class leading.
The Yaris Cross weighs-in at 1175-1265kgs and is certified to tow 500kgs or up to 750kgs braked. Power comes from Toyota’s fourth generation petrol/hybrid powertrain. The engine develops 114hp and 120nm and is delivered through a CVT (automatic) gearbox. Top speed is 170km/h and the sprint from 0-100km/h takes 11.2 seconds. In keeping with the compact class the suspension is little restricted with MacPherson struts up front and a ‘torsion’ beam set up at the rear. On the road the Yaris Cross doesn’t set pulses racing. As it is a full HEV it has an automatic gearbox that makes its own unique sounds under hard acceleration but in normal use is refined and very efficient. The driving experience is comfortable but dull. ‘Utterly adequate behind the wheel’ is as enthusiastic a description as I can muster. In reality this will be fine for most customers. The Yaris Cross is economical. The urban environment is its ideal location where Toyota says its hybrid technology can operate in zero emissions mode for up to 80% of journey times. Average fuel consumption is quoted at 4.5 litres per 100km (WLTP).
The Yaris Cross wants a slice of the 19+ strong B-SUV segment of the new car market. Some already established rivals include: the similar-sized Suzuki Vitara, Peugeot 2008, Opel Mokka, VW T-Cross, Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Ford Puma and of course the Hyundai Kona to name a few. The Yaris Cross being a Toyota instantly makes it a serious contender in the Irish market where the brand has a rich heritage and loyal customer base. Four grades are available: Luna (from €28,050), Luna Sport (from €31,030), Sol (from €34,390) and Adventure (from €35,720). Lane departure alert, smart entry and adaptive cruise control are standard across the range. All bar the entry model have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Yaris Cross is a great looking machine in a highly competitive market. Sharp styling combined with strong residual value, ease of use and low emissions are among its strongest atributes.