2012 Toyota Yaris Hybrid review

* Petrol-electric Yaris supermini driven * 80.7mpg and 79g/km of CO2 * On sale now, priced from 14,995...

2012 Toyota Yaris Hybrid review

The Toyota Yaris Hybrid is essentially a compact version of the Prius, using the same type of petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain to maximise fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions.

At a fiver under 15k its also the cheapest hybrid currently on sale, undercutting the entry-level version of the Honda Jazz IMA by 1300.

Whats the 2012 Toyota Yaris Hybrid like to drive?
Tickle the throttle and you can travel short distances on electric power alone.

Ask for anything other than pedestrian progress, however, and youll be greeted by a big increase in noise as the petrol engine cuts in, the revs soar and the CVT auto gearbox attempts to synergise petrol and electric power.

Even then, its hard not to be underwhelmed by the sluggish performance, and its just as difficult to ignore the whining from the transmission and the whirr of the regenerative brake system as the Yaris Hybrid comes to a standstill.

You also have to put up with a fair amount of wind noise from around the big windscreen and the door mirrors even at moderate speeds.

Still, it's not all bad news, because the handling feels secure and the light steering makes it easy to negotiate busy city streets. On the smoothly surfaced Dutch roads of our test route, the suspension felt reasonably compliant, too.

Whats the 2012 Toyota Yaris Hybrid like inside?
Like other versions of the Yaris, the Hybrid has space for four adults, and while its boot isn't exactly massive at 286 litres, it does have a false floor, allowing additional storage space beneath.

All-round visibility is good, too, thanks to the Yaris's large glass area and elevated seating.

However, you wont want to spend much time staring at the interior fixtures and fittings; most of the plastics look and feel cheap, while the design is devoid of any flair, making the whole cabin feel utterly drab and cheerless.

The cheapest model comes with dual-zone climate control and seven airbags, but we'd spend another 900 to get T4-trim, which brings modern-day essentials such as Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and a DAB radio.

Should I buy one?
The Yaris Hybrid is attractively priced, and its compact size and moderate power output mean it emits just 79g/km of CO2, placing it in the lowly 10% company car tax band.

Yaris Hybrid buyers also get the convenience of an automatic transmission. However, if it were our choice wed shift our gears manually and go for a diesel Ford Fiesta Econetic instead. True, the Fiesta costs around a thousand pounds more, but its almost as economical and infinitely better to drive.

Read the full What Car? Toyota Yaris review

What Car? says...

Pete Tullin