Friday, 2 November 2012 3:35 PM
The British are passionate about queues, according to research from Onepoll.com. I passionately hate them.
And so it is with a sinking feeling that I find myself in yet another claustrophobic traffic jam. But hang on a minute, it’s a much more positive experience because I’m driving a Toyota Yaris Hybrid and it thrives in such situations. In fact it is possible to travel up to two miles at 30mph on its electric motor thus conserving expensive petrol.
The times I sit in mile-long tailbacks either frustrated that the engine is using so much fuel while it ticks over or wondering whether the auto stop/start will actually kick in. I was in an Astra the other week and while this function reliably cut in and out it was a little rough and ready, not like the one found in Audis.
The Yaris Hybrid is therefore a joy because, as long as the driver is light with the right foot and the motor is sufficiently charged, it will automatically crawl along in ev (electric vehicle) mode. If it doesn’t then there is an ev switch, awkwardly placed near the handbrake.
Either way progress is similar to the sound and pace of a milk float. Woe betide the impatient motorist because apply too much pressure on the accelerator and it’ll start guzzling fuel.
There’s a similar temptation when other irritated motorists are forced to form an orderly queue behind as the driver nurses the little hybrid on its way. But when the traffic is slow, the Yaris Hybrid comes into its own.
Normal driving results in the engine charging the motor back up in time to be used in another queue.
I would be happier if this hybrid technology was coupled to a more efficient diesel engine as it consumes too much petrol for my liking, really only allowing around 350 miles of travel on a full tank. The tank is 36 litres or 7.9 gallons (compared to 42 litres in a standard Yaris, to make room for the hybrid battery) and during my test it has averaged 44mpg. This makes it much more appropriate for pottering around town than motorway munching.
But it does have an excellent cruise control that can be used at speeds of 26mph and above as well as with ev mode. It can be set at 30mph and no matter whether travelling downhill or up it will stick rigidly to this speed, which is particularly helpful when a speed camera is present.
A unique interior is made all the more so by what appears to be a light turquoise woodchip wallpaper effect on the dashboard and door inserts, which you can see in the video at testdrives.biz. It is actually a fabric but at a quick glance looks very much like wallpaper. It is equipped with a good level of features including all round electric windows, air conditioning, sat-nav and a CD player.
Parkers, the car experts, say: “This is the third generation of the Toyota Yaris and the Japanese company believes it is so good that it will take sales from the class-leading Ford Fiesta. That’s a bold claim. Previously the Yaris has majored in bulletproof reliability, a spacious well-built cabin, a strong range of economical engines and low running costs. Add to this sharper styling and some of the best residuals in the class and it should do well. The Yaris is the only supermini on sale with the choice of petrol, diesel or hybrid power.”
Toyota Yaris 1.5 VVT-i Hybrid T3 5d CVT Auto
New price range: £10,695 – £17,845
Top speed: 103mph
Fuel tank: 36 litres (7.9 gallons)
By Tim Saunders