UK-specific spec details for the engine and trim levels are yet to be finalised, but as with all its competitors, barring the Ford Fiesta, the Mk4 Yaris will only be available as a five-door. The only way to get a three-door version is to opt for the sporty GR Yaris – how’s that for a deciding factor?
Toyota’s been building hybrids since 1997, so when most manufacturers are only just releasing Now That’s What I Call a Hybrid! 01, the latest Yaris debuts the Japanese brand’s fourth compilation of petrol-electric drive system.
We can cringe at the ‘self-charging’ campaign, indicating that it doesn’t need to be plugged in, but what matters more is that this is set to be an exceptionally fuel-efficient system, even if precise mpg figures are yet to be confirmed.
Let’s face it, you can see why this has been prioritised to be available from launch, given that 60% of buyers who bought the outgoing version went for the hybrid model.
Shorter, lower, wider… and actually more fun
The latest Yaris is supported by the smallest adaptable platform yet, known internally as GA-B.
Adopting this platform allows the Mk4 Yaris to be 5mm shorter, 50mm wider and 40mm lower than the Mk3, with a 50mm longer wheelbase to generate additional interior space.
It’s certainly an improvement for taller passengers sat in the rear, with feet space beneath the front seats and a sensible amount of kneeroom that simply doesn’t exist in say, a Renault Clio.
Those up front also sit lower to the ground by 21mm, plus, the added width means they also sit 20mm further apart.
This new structure is around 20kg lighter than the outgoing Yaris, but also 37% stiffer, with more of the weight concentrated lower down in the car’s structure. This same architecture can also house a compact four-wheel drive system – reserved specifically for the GR Yaris hot hatch.
What have we got here?
The 1.5-litre engine used here is a three-cylinder version of the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder found in the Corolla, utilising the Atkinson cycle and running a compression ratio of 14:1.
It’s linked to a new electrical motor producing 79hp and 141Nm of torque, along with a lighter lithium-ion battery pack and drives the front wheels via a CVT automatic gearbox.
This Mk4 Yaris is the first to use this new type of battery pack, allowing double the recharge capacity and 50% more output. Locating it beneath the rear seats not only prevents it from eating up boot space, but also allows for the battery pack to remain cool through the use of the cabin’s air temperature – negating the need for a stand-alone liquid cooling system, hence resulting in a 12kg weight saving over the old version.
Remember the two words ‘rubber band’?
Those who remember driving Toyota hybrids of old will most likely remember the tedious experience of getting one to acclerate up to any desired speed. Just like the latest Corolla though, the Yaris performs with a noticeable step-up in response in stop-start traffic.
You can set off from stationary with little hesitation now, leaving BMW 320d drivers fumbling behind as they wait for their start-stop system to finish cranking their engine back to life. It’s genuinely entertaining.
Combining this energetic response with its sharper steering and stiffened up chassis, and you have a Yaris that feels agile enough for you to dart around and have some fun around town – or at the very least, feel like you’re making effective progress.