Like most families, we try and do our bit for the environment when we can, but I’d never really considered driving a hybrid car.
I suppose I thought they might lack power, or that they’re slower, or complicated. I’m sure that sounds daft to a hybrid driver, but it’s just an impression I had.
So I was intrigued when the guys at Vantage Motor Group offered to loan me a brand new Toyota Yaris Hybrid vehicle for the weekend. Toyota is the company behind the famous Prius hybrid, so they certainly should know their stuff.
The car we borrowed was the new 2017 Yaris with a snazzy bi-tone interior that gives you a black interior trim with blue, red or bronze interior highlights.
Toyota Yaris Hybrid First Impressions
“It’s a bit small,” said Flea, when we went to collect the Yaris from the showroom.
It’s a fair observation – this is a compact supermini, which would be ideal if you’re driving with older kids, or buying a car for your own children to drive. This definitely isn’t the car for you if you’re driving with dogs and pushchairs, for example.
As the sales manager showed us around the car, it became apparent that this is a really practical, affordable option if you’re looking for a hybrid. The Toyota Yaris 2017 hybrid starts at around £16,000, making it really good value for a car with the kind of reliability that Toyota offers.
How does it Drive?
The Toyota Yaris Hybrid is an automatic, which I always find a bit of a change – does anyone else find their hand itching for something to do when there’s no gearstick?
The seating position is height-adjustable, which my fellow short people will appreciate. Certainly, the cabin is surprisingly spacious for a small car.
We took the Yaris Hybrid to my Dad’s for Fathers Day, and my 6″ 1′ brother managed to sit in the back without any problems – there’s certainly plenty of leg room. The boot is a fair size and would easily hold a couple of suitcases, or a week’s shopping.
Driving, there’s absolutely nothing to tell you that this isn’t a typical car. As you start up, the engine will use the battery for power until you get up to about 25mph, then the regular engine will kick in. The suspension did a fair job on the roads around Lytham, giving a smooth ride.
One thing I definitely noticed is that the car is quite slow to respond when you put your foot down.
Pulling away at roundabouts, I really noticed the lag. But then that’s a plus if you’re looking for fuel economy, as the Yaris will discourage you from putting your foot down too freely.
Overall, I reckon I got about a pretty impressive 55mpg over the weekend, although the man from Toyota who showed me the car said that 60mpg is achievable for city drivers who are probably a bit less enthusiastic on the accelerator than me!
Toys and Gadgets
One thing you’ll want to check out when you drive the Toyota Yaris Hybrid is the digital touchscreen display. While this controls music and navigation in the usual way, there’s also an option to see how the car is performing in real-time.
This means you can watch whether the car is drawing power from the battery, charging the battery or in neutral, with a colour-code to show whether you’re driving efficiently, or not. For me, personally, I felt a bit judged by this. I found it virtually impossible to keep all the arrows green when using the accelerator AT ALL. But it’s certainly an interesting perspective on your driving!
One thing that struck me was that for a really affordable family car, there are plenty of gadgets and technology in the Toyota Yaris Hybrid.
Bluetooth comes as standard, meaning it’s a snap to play music or make hands-free calls from your phone. There’s also a really usable navigation system, and rear-view camera which makes parking a cinch (although we couldn’t work out how to turn on the audible parking sensors which I assume are there).
The Toyota Yaris Hybrid in Action!
Over the weekend, we took our Toyota Yaris out and about in Lytham – here’s a quick video of how we got on (with bonus appearances from most of my family)
Pros and Cons
What I liked about the Yaris was that it’s a spacious, affordable car, that drives nicely, especially around town. The interior layout is usable, and we found plenty of leg-room in the back.
For me, there were a few niggles. I found the car lacking in power, and my 1.5l diesel (not a Toyota) gets the same fuel economy with a lot more oomph. But then my diesel is an environmental monster, so I’m definitely open to the idea of switching to something greener.
Where the Yaris really wouldn’t suit us is space. I rely on my flat boot space to move around a lot of kit. Our car frequently carries huge hockey kit bags, a dog, luggage, and endless other bits and pieces. Flea also would struggle with the lack of storage in the main interior cabin of the Yaris. We rely on seat-back pockets and in-door storage to keep drinks, books and school emergency supplies to hand.
Ultimately, I think what will sell the Toyota Yaris Hybrid is the combination of decent fuel efficiency, affordability, and Toyota’s amazing reputation for reliability. If those are things you’re looking for in your next car, then I’d definitely recommend adding the Toyota Yaris Hybrid to your list.