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With ample equipment, an easy drive and outstanding efficiency, the new Yaris Cross is a stellar choice for the younger, bolder driver.

11 Feb 2021


When we think of Toyota cars, certain qualities immediately spring to mind - simplicity, practicality and reliability. We don't tend to think of Toyotas as avant garde, cutting edge or groundbreakingly exciting, even if they may actually be those things. Even the technological sheen on something like the Toyota Prius has been somewhat tempered by the fact that most people just think of them as taxis or Grab cars.

The new Yaris Cross seems to be marching to a rather different tune. It's a car that's aimed squarely at a younger, more contemporary audience, packing the latest in equipment and new age styling.

Out with the old, in with the new, perhaps?

Face on

The Yaris Cross is certainly a bold and distinct sight on the road
The Toyota Yaris Cross is one of those modern day sector-busting concoctions. Sub-compact SUV? Compact crossover? Upsized hatchback? You could think of it as an upsized Yaris hatchback (it's longer, wider and taller), though its design is completely new, with all new body panels distinct from the hatchback.

That design is… bold, shall we say. With its distinct boxy front end, sharp angular details and busy rear end, the Yaris Cross isn't a pretty car by any means. In some ways, it looks like a shrunken RAV4, but shrunken so much that it becomes a little bit odd. It's a design that I'm still warming up to, though there's no denying that it's certainly fresh and different.

Opening up

You get plenty of modern amenities, including Apple CarPlay
The inside of the car is much easier to love.

The digital speedometer is neat, informative, and can be configured to display a variety of information. The 8.0-inch infotainment system is easy to navigate and delivers plenty of functionality, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And, in this Excite variant, you also get a heads-up display.

Additionally, the seats are nice and plush, the controls all feel solid, and the air-con is remarkably cold. Even on the lowest fan setting and at 24 degree celcius I found myself shivering at times. And, the boot is actually quite big - with the desk board lowered (it can be set at two different heights, though I'm not sure why anyone would need that), the boot can fit 390-litres of cargo.

The 390-litre boot is very sizeable for this class
There are issues, though. The door cards, notably, don't feel nice at all. The material is cardboard-like and feels cheap. The gear knob feels like it has been plucked out from an older car. The boot tonneau cover is flimsy, sort of like those foldable sunshades that petrol stations used to give out 10 years ago. And, rear legroom is quite tight, so it's best left for youth and smaller adults.

With the mix of modern technology and sleek equipment with less-than-premium materials and odd finishes, the cabin is solid, though not quite fantastic.

Proving ground

The hybrid system is able to drive the front wheels using stored battery power, delivering improved efficiency
Where the Yaris Cross really proves itself is on the road. 

Powering the Yaris Cross is a 1.5-litre hybrid powertrain, producing 110bhp and 141Nm of torque. It may not sound like much, but considering the car weighs just 1,190kg, acceleration is brisk and easy. 

The car drives relatively well. The suspension is well-judged, the steering has some weight to it, and the car is generally nimble and light on its feet.

More importantly, the hybrid powertrain delivers excellent fuel economy, combined with solid refinement. The more than 20 years of experience making the Prius really shows. Driven with a light foot, the car is relatively quiet, yet still stable and smooth even past 90km/h.

With a disciplined right foot, you can extract outstanding fuel economy from the Yaris Cross
And, when driven properly, you really can extract plenty of mileage from one single tank. Toyota quotes a fuel economy figure of 26.3km/L, but I found myself able to consistently get more than 27.5km/L.

And, the Yaris Cross is also fitted as standard with Toyota Safety Sense, with several firsts. Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) helps steer the car and keep it in the middle of the lane, even through bends. It works well enough and is impressive for a car in this class. The car can also detect when a pedestrian crosses in front of you and throw up a big red 'BRAKE' alert on the HUD.

The Dynamic Radar Cruise Control is also useful for highway driving. Combined with the LTA, highway journeys are really rather effortless.

In with the new

The Yaris Cross comes with a comprehensive suite of Toyota Safety Sense features, with includes Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
The new Yaris Cross is a bold new offering from Toyota, certainly a car that isn't shy about being different and fresh, and wanting to appeal to a younger crowd.

At $107,888 for this Excite variant, the Yaris Cross is on the pricier side of the spectrum, especially in its class. In fact, a top spec Altis, a car one size up, costs the same.

Yeah, the styling is a bit too much for my taste, the interior not quite as spacious as you’d imagine, and some parts of the car feel a little cheap materials-wise.

But, all that said, the Yaris Cross still represents good value.

The combination of bold styling, outstanding efficiency and modern equipment will appeal to a new generation of potential Toyota buyers
It's packed with plenty of equipment, delivers all the functionality and practicality that a young family needs, and the stellar fuel efficiency will help you save a fair bit at the pump.

This isn't a car for 'traditional' Toyota buyers. It's for a younger, bolder audience, while still delivering the simplicity, practicality and reliability that the brand is known for.

Out with the old, in with the new? Yes please.

Car Information

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Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid 1.5 Excite (A)
Rate it

Price

: $106,888

Engine Type

:

3-cylinder in-line, Dynamic Force

Engine Cap

:

1490cc

Horsepower

:

-

Torque

:

141 Nm / 4800 rpm

Transmission

:

CVT (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

11.4sec

Top Speed

:

170km/h

Fuel consumption

:

26.3 km/L

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