|TOYOTA YARIS CROSS DESIGN|
|The story: Toyota has big sales ambitions for its new baby crossover, that takes design cues from its Yaris hatch sibling, and the RAV4, and slots in to the brand’s SUV range below the C-HR|
|Key rival:||Vauxhall Mokka|
Toyota has a serious entry into the increasingly popular small crossover segment with a car that it is hoping will match the sales of its well-established C-HR model in its first full year.
The Yaris Cross, it’s not surprising to read, is closely related to the Yaris hatchback, which isn’t a bad place to start given the latest car’s impressive reception. It’s 240mm longer, 90mm higher and 20mm wider than the hatchback, and also takes styling cues from the larger RAV4 SUV as well as the Yaris, combining into a small crossover package.
Toyota says it developed the Yaris Cross around the same thinking as the Yaris, in that “big-small packaging, safety, hybrid powertrain and being fun to drive” were the characteristics aimed for.
The hybrid powertrain is the place to start because, as is the case with most Toyotas, it gives the car a big advantage over regular petrol rivals. Emissions kick off at 100g/km for the entry trim, rising to 102g/km for the Design driven here. The higher-spec Dynamic, Excel and Premiere Edition emit 112g/km.
That 114hp powertrain is capable of running for significant periods on the battery alone, and then quickly recharging under braking or via the engine. Toyota’s hybrid system is now well capable of running on EV only for longer periods and at higher speeds than previous iterations, although the old complaint remains about refinement under serious acceleration, such as when coming off a roundabout. It’s better than it used to be though, and at lower speeds the powertrain is much smoother and quieter.
The Yaris Cross handles well, with a good weight and responsiveness of steering – something not always said of Toyotas – and body control is well managed. The ride quality jiggles a bit over minor imperfections, but overall it puts in a tidy performance.
Given that the car has a smaller footprint than a Nissan Juke, Vauxhall Mokka or VW T-Cross, and is slightly larger than a Ford Puma, the interior space is fine, and the boot space of a shade under 400 litres is good. Rear passengers won’t complain, given the size of car, and there are a few neat cubbyholes and stowage areas up-front, including a handy mobile phone tray below the touchscreen.