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The Japanese manufacturer Toyota’s best selling model in Europe is the Yaris, and since 1999 over 350,000 of them have been sold in the UK.
The third generation Yaris now arrives in Hybrid form and the city of Amsterdam was the venue for the European launch. You could say it’s already a ‘green’ place considering the majority of the residents ride around on bicycles and further out into the country, huge wind turbines occupy the skyline.
The Yaris Hybrid is designed to appeal to the new, young customers interested in all things environmentally friendly, and driving it around the narrow canal lined roads of Amsterdam, you can see why this car will definitely appeal.
Other manufacturers’ offerings of cars designed to deliver high fuel efficiency and low emissions seem to have a particular space age exterior design, space is limited and price-wise they’re generally not that affordable.
But not the Yaris Hybrid. The engineers have introduced a new compact electric motor and generator, so no compromise on space at all in the supermini.
Using both an electric battery and a 1.5-litre petrol engine, the car switches seemlessly between them generating 98bhp and a maximum speed of 103mph.
Starting it up you wonder whether the car is actually on, it’s that quiet. Driving around the single lane roads of villages on the outskirts of Amsterdam, where there are strict speed limits, the car could be run in EV Mode. This meant that any speed of less than 31mph could be run on battery alone.
Ideal for urban driving, especially when there is a lot of starting and stopping . The range limitation in all electric cars is generally a disadvantage but the Yaris scores high on this point.
Out on the open roads, especially motorways and the petrol engine kicks in. And it’s at this point, if you’re a hot hatch sort of person, this will not be the car for you. Don’t get me wrong it drives fine at higher speeds, but engine noise is loud and it occasionally feels slightly sluggish. Amsterdam is all flat, so it would have been good to have driven it up a mountain, just to see how it would fair.
Using an automatic E-CVT transmission, the ‘B’ option on the gear stick decreases speed slowly when braking, thus recharging the battery recovering kinetic energy.
With a combined fuel consumption of 80.7mpg and 79g/km for the T3 and T4 models, the car also benefits from being exempt from the London congestion charge.
Driving on sweeping roads leading to a nearby island from the Dutch city, the car holds roads well and is well-balanced, due to its particularly low centre of gravity.
For those looking for a car with great manoeuvrability, then the Yaris should definitely be a car to look at when it hits showrooms at the end of June, as it leads in its class with a 4.7m turning radius. Parking will seem so much easier from now on.
The Yaris certainly has the looks to match its rivals and with LED daytime running lights, a very narrow front grille and sleek, aerodynamic lines, it definitely turned a few Dutch heads.
Prices start at £14,995 for the T3, rising to £16,995 for the T Spirit. With such a high level spec including dual-zone air conditioning, electric mirrors, rear view camera, on-board computer to name but a few, you would be looking to pay £1300 more to rivals for all the extras.
Front seats are extremely comfortable, although vision wise, I did have trouble seeing where the front of the car ended. There is a lot of space in the front, almost too much, as the rear seats did lack depth. It seats five, with the middle belt being safely tucked away in the ceiling of the car.
The dash is well laid out, the Hybrid blue (on the exterior Toyota badge) works its way onto the dials, gearstick and the power button. An added detail I really liked.
The centre console is extremely simple, some might say quite plain, but there is no overuse of buttons and dials that confuse most drivers.
With no element of the electric battery taking away space from the boot, this is ideal for such a small car. There is also a hidden shelf underneath for stowing away extra things.
The Yaris Hybrid will more likely appeal to city dwellers, as nipping across town, you can run it on the battery, thus saving on fuel.
Consumers might feel it’s a high price to pay for a small car, but consider this. With longer durability of elements such as the brake discs, pads and less tyre wear, and with no clutch or starter motor, then it will save you money in the long term on maintenance.
It maybe a small car, but it definitely has big ideas. No doubt the Yaris will continue to be their best selling model, even in Hybrid form.
By Olivia Gauch
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Wed, 06 Jun 2012