Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid review: Prices, specifications

Toyota’s Yaris Hybrid isn’t a budget option for first-time car buyers, but it’s a sensible option for someone looking to reduce their carbon footprint without breaking the bank.

Here are five things to know about Toyota’s most efficient hatch.

If this was a popularity contest, I’d lose.

A decade ago, the Yaris was one of the most popular cars on the road and some experts predicted that Australians would finally embrace small-town hatchbacks in the same way that Europeans had for decades. Then came the SUV tsunami, and new car buyers suddenly forgot about hatchbacks. Toyota did nothing to help the cause, introducing an SUV version of the small hatchback, called the Yaris Cross, and raising prices substantially. In 2019, you could pick up a manual Ascent for $15,300 more on the highway. The following year, the price of entry was $22,130 more on the road, about $25,500 by car. Our test car, the ZR Hybrid, costs around $37,300 to drive.

It’s small, but it has everything.

Toyota’s advertising slogan for the Yaris is “small now has it all” and that’s a pretty good explanation of why it’s so expensive. It’s one of the safest small cars on the road, with most of the latest and greatest standards of driver-assist technology across the lineup. The Yaris will keep you in your lane, maintain a safe distance from the car ahead on the highway, and hit the brakes if it detects a potential collision. ZR models also feature Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert to prevent you from backing out of a driveway into the path of passing traffic. Eight airbags include one between the driver and front passenger to prevent them from hitting their heads in a side-impact accident.

The color palette is adventurous.

Toyota has a reputation for being a bit stuffy, but the Yaris comes in some fun colors, including bright greenish yellow, pinkish gray, retina-scorching red, and electric blue. Four of the colors can be ordered with a contrasting piano black roof. Inside, the ZR’s cabin doesn’t have the usual 50 shades of gray. There’s a red stripe on the dash and doors, as well as heavily sculpted two-tone bucket seats. Complementing the youthful design are a large central touch screen, digital dials in front of the driver and a head-up display that projects vital information on the windscreen, such as speed, current speed limit and satnav directions.

It’s a relatively cheap way to reduce your carbon footprint.

The ZR Hyrbid Yaris looks expensive compared to its petrol rivals, but when you compare it to electric vehicles, it looks pretty good. You pay a premium of about $2000 for the hybrid configuration, but you’ll get it back reasonably quickly with gas prices poised to rise again. Range anxiety won’t be a problem either: Toyota claims the Yaris can travel up to 1,090km on a single tank. Official fuel consumption is 3.3l/100km and we easily managed 3.5l/100km in bumper-to-bumper traffic. On a long road trip at 110 km/h we saw 3.6 l/100 km. As an added bonus, you only need regular unleaded gasoline.

There’s fun behind the wheel

Despite modest power and torque outputs of just 85kW and 141Nm, the Yaris feels lively enough off the mark and when hurtling into gaps in traffic. It’ll get the job done on the motorway, too, though when you have to overtake or climb hills, the small engine, which is paired with a continuously variable transmission, gets pretty noisy. Find a twisty road and the Yaris impresses, with precise steering, good body control and sharp reflexes. However, it can feel a bit clumpy over sharp-edged bumps and ripples.

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