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Drive of your life this week…

the new Toyota Yaris Hybrid T-Spirit

What is it? A compact five seater car that is now the flagship for Toyota’s best selling model in Europe and the only full hybrid in the supermini B-segment.

Who would want one? Any unselfish environmentally concerned lady on a quest to save our doomed planet by doing her bit in binning the gas guzzling Chelsea Tractor for an ultra fuel efficient, low CO2 emissions hybrid car.

The exhilarating thrill: Performance here is not really in question, however it only takes 11.8 seconds to reach 62mph from 0 that is impressive in its own right. The real exhilarating factor here is the Hybrid technology. In a nutshell Toyota have taken their proven version of Hybrid Synergy Drive technology and with very clever packaging, put it into the Yaris without compromising on internal space. This system incorporates a hybrid battery guaranteed for 14 years, a 1.5 litre petrol engine, a lighter more compact electric motor, a transaxle with an inverter and works like this. At rest, the engine automatically stops to save fuel while in low efficient conditions such as at start up and at low to mid-range speeds, the vehicle runs on the electric motor alone thus eliminating CO2, NO and particulates tailpipe emissions. In normal driving conditions, power allocation is constantly adjusted between the petrol engine and the electric motor to gain the best possible performance and fuel efficiency. By means of an Electronically Controlled Braking (ECB) system the electric motor is effectively recharged whenever the brakes are applied that is called regenerative braking. If the ECB is used properly, the brake pads can last up to 60,000 miles before needing replacement.

Wow factors to make the neighbours go green: Being an oh so green car does not mean the Yaris Hybrid has to be boring to look at. Oh no, bring on the stunning front bonnet that cuts in V shaped to the first air vent and is flanked by two gorgeous teardrop light clusters. This then falls into the colour coded bumper with deep-set front fog lights and a huge honeycomb grille. To profile are colour coded electrically adjustable door mirrors, colour coded door handles, alloy wheels with a panoramic roof and rear privacy glass optional extras.  The rear sees another set of lovely light clusters, a large colour coded bumper and that all-important badge under the Yaris name that says Hybrid Synergy Drive. Now the neighbours will be as green as this car.

On the other hand…when the sat nav is on it shows up on the screen meaning the Eco map that shows the driver how economically she is driving, now cannot be seen. So out of sight out of mind may see the lady slipping out of eco mode! What a shame as the whole idea of buying a hybrid is that the valuable pounds saved at the pumps is put to good use at the shops. Best buy a oh what do they call them? – Oh yes a map!

Where would the sunglasses fit? Not in their own sunglasses holder but possibly in either of the two-cup holders, the front door pockets in the centre console storage box.

Will it take the shopping?  A resounding yes here with 286 litres of luggage space that easily took two small suitcases.

Helping hands make light work thanks to electric power assisted steering, electric front windows with one-touch down operation and rear electric windows. The steering wheel is height adjustable as are the front seats, the wipers are rain sensing, the lights are dusk sensing and the rear view mirror is auto dimming. Finally there is the Smart push button to start the engine as opposed to fumbling around with a key and for meticulous parking, a rear view camera.

Creature Comforts to luxuriate in are duel zone climate control air conditioning, a ventilated glove box to keep the water chilled and a fabulous Toyota Touch and Go multimedia system. This comprise of a 6-speaker audio system with CD player, WMA/MP3 reader, an RDS radio, Bluetooth plus satellite navigation all beautifully displayed on the Toyota Touch touchscreen control.

Its most annoying feature: is the amount of wind noise ricocheting into the quiet cabin that became very distracting and annoying.

The quirkiest accessory: has to be the  “B” selection by the gear lever that one should select, especially going downhill, to make the car decrease in speed a lot more slower than normal which recharges the battery more effectively. How clever is that – if one remembers to use it!

Avoiding the costly repair shop is all thanks to ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA) that will prevent skidding. In addition are Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRC) that will keep the Yaris Hybrid firmly on the tarmac and not in the bushes.

Keeping your precious cargo safe:  are driver’s and front passenger twin chamber airbags, front side airbags, curtain shield airbag and driver knee airbag. The front seats are equipped with Whiplash Injury Lessening that reduces whiplash, while the collapsible steering column and retractable brake pedal will reduce injury in the unlikely event of an accident. For the children are Isofix mountings on the two outer rear seats and childproof rear door locks. All five seatbelts have an emergency locking retractor and the fronts seatbelts have pre-tensioners and force limiters.

Avoiding it being nicked is a transponder engine immobiliser, remote control central double locking and VIN markings on major parts.

Star rating: 4.5/5 due to the outside noise dampening the high spirited conversations the ladies in this car are having due to all the money they have saved thanks to the ultra low running costs of this car that has meant they have shopped till they have dropped.

Consider: the entry level T3 or mid range trim T4 costing £14,995 and £15,895 respectively to keep the initial price tags down yet still benefit from the Hybrid technology and all the safety and security features.

Web link:

Jackie Violet
Motoring Correspondent 

At a Glance
Test Model: Toyota Yaris Hybrid T Spirit
RRP: £16,994
Transmission: E-CVT electric continuously variable
0-62mph: 11.8 seconds
Top speed: 103 mph
Combined Fuel: 76.3 mpg
Insurance Group: TBA
CO2 emissions:  85 g/km VED A with zero cost
Horsepower: 59 hp @ 45 rpm
Torque: 169 Nm


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