There are a number of things that mobility brand Toyota do well, (in fact their design and engineering team has even had a winning crack at making sailing boats fly), but three things that spring quickly to the forefront are SUVs, compact cars and hybrids. The all-new Yaris Cross merges these things together and adds in some unique character for good measure – Toyota New Zealand let us check it out.
Based on the TNGA-B compact car platform and part of the new Yaris family (hatch/GR) the Yaris Cross manages to be small enough to whizz around the city suburbia (4.18m long) and yet spacious enough inside to allow drivers and passengers to breath – much like a New York loft apartment (but on wheels).
Its exterior design includes a three-dimensional ‘face’ with a Toyota badge nose (blue in my hybrid model’s case) and LED eyes with distinctive vertical LED DRLs. My review model came in ‘Brass Gold’ and it really adds to the Yaris Cross’s character, accentuating the shoulder line that rises to the rear and contrasts well with the black protective plastics on the sills (embossed) and wheel arches that surround the 18-inch feet.
The rear sports a roofline spoiler, LED tail lights that sit either end of a full-width enclosure (reminiscent of the ‘80s – best decade EVER), I high riding rear protective bumper and a kicker tailgate that gains entry to 390L of ‘split level’ luggage space and the versatility of having 40/20/40 rear seat splits to accommodate all manner of gear.
As I said before, the interior is surprisingly spacious both front and rear. It’s not a Limo but there’s room for a ‘not so compact’ guy like me not to encroach on those around. The seats are covered with leather/cloth cross that includes a pattern that seems to come from the 80s too (best decade EVER). Of course at this compact price point, the cabin is finished with plastics, however, they are on the whole, soft and tactile and both the Infotainment screen (with Apple/Android) and instrument cluster (Analogue dials with a digital screen) are easy to use and read.
Being an urban SUV, the Yaris Cross comes with plenty of nooks and crannies for those ‘things’ that you tend to gather over time and there’s space for your phone (regardless of size) and ample USB ports. The door handle is a bit ‘over-engineered’ for my liking but still, others will find it funky (a word from the 70s – 2nd best decade EVER).
Around town, the turning circle is great and as the Yaris Cross comes complete with Toyota’s Safety Sense, Driver and Safety aids are with you on every drive. Crawl along, and the hybrid powertrain automatically goes battery only and as the revs increase the new 1.5-litre, three-cylinder Atkinson-cycle petrol engine seamlessly kicks in, it’s a note.
The engine itself has been precision-engineered to reduce friction and mechanical losses and optimise combustion speed and the result is comparatively high torque (120Nm) at low engine speeds and excellent fuel efficiency, in fact, Toyota claim that the 85kW Yaris Cross sips fuel at a mere 3.8L/100km and emits CO2 at just 86g/km – talk about breathing easy.
Aside from the general household chores, for which the Yaris Cross is ideal, I took the family on a day trip to Sulivan’s Bay for our first dip in the sea this summer. Over the tight, twisty tarmac’d roads the, Cross holds its own well, and even gets up to motorway speeds without too much trouble, what’s more, although I was expecting a bit of a rocky ride on the gravel, the compact SUV felt smooth and controlled- it’s good, very good.
As an urban SUV Toyota New Zealand’s new Yaris Cross excels and I’m pleased to report that it covers extended day trips really well too. It’s room yet small, frugal but fun, it’s three of Toyota’s favourite things, all rolled into one.