During our test drive, the new Yaris turned a lot of heads. It’s true that the city car impresses with its body-built styling, like the gaping front grille. The two-tone Fusion Red and black paint, specific to the Première launch version, does not make this Yaris any more discreet.

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The rear is less aggressive, but still very stylish, with prominent fenders and a black band with red piping running along the tailgate.

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At 3.94m long, the Yaris is about ten centimetres shorter than its main rivals.

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The interior is more classic than its body. The curved dashboard design adds a touch of originality, but the black interior of our test model, right down to the roofline, is not the most cheerful. Fortunately, the large panoramic roof brings in plenty of light.

The interior’s classicism does, however, give it good ergonomics, with a knob for adjusting the audio volume, and physical controls for the ventilation.

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The quality of finish is rather random. Many materials are disappointing, including on areas that you’re likely to touch frequently. In this respect, a Renault Clio is much better.

In the back, the Yaris’ more compact size compared to its competitors is noticeable, with legroom that’s just right. The headroom is insufficient for those over 1.85 m. We regret that the imposing side headrests obstruct rearward visibility, which is already limited by the imposing C-pillars.

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The boot is identical to the non-hybrid petrol versions. Its volume (286 l) is below the segment average. However, if we restrict this spectrum to hybrid city cars, the Yaris is placed between the Clio E-Tech and its 254-litre boot – despite its greater length – and the Jazz with its 304-litre load volume.

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The Yaris is equipped with a 7″ touch screen in the middle of the dashboard. It increases to 8″ on the top-of-the-range versions like ours. It doesn’t come standard with in-car navigation. The screen is well placed, but Toyota did not choose to turn it towards the driver. There are numerous buttons on either side of the screen that allow you to access the various menus. The interface is not the most modern, with an aging design. However, its simplicity allows it to be quite easy to handle.

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The interface is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, only in wired form. So you’ll have to go through the single USB-A socket in the cabin to connect to it. An induction charger is available as an option.

The instrument panel features a 4.2″ color screen starting with the second trim level. It displays a wide range of information.

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In addition, the highest trims include a head-up display, which is rare in the segment. It is projected directly onto the windshield.

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Handling and performance

Under its hood, the Yaris Hybrid packs a 1.5-litre Dynamic Force three-cylinder engine with an Atkinson cycle that develops 92 hp on its own. It is combined with two electric blocks (MG1 and MG2), including a 59 kW (80 bhp) traction motor. Combined power is 116 hp and maximum torque is 120 Nm. The Yaris Hybrid also uses a new li-ion battery, which is 12 kg lighter than the previous NiMH battery. It can store energy at twice the power and release it at +50% power. As for the transmission, Toyota is sticking with epicyclic technology, which has a similar effect to a CVT.

Behind the wheel, you can appreciate the dynamism of this Yaris, which is based on a new GA-B platform. It doesn’t make it a sporty car, but the fundamentals for driving pleasure are there, with supportive seats and a good driving position. What’s more, the Yaris is lighter than its rivals, with an unladen weight of 1,065 kg (1,090 kg for our test model). However, we regret thatThe steering isn’t any more communicative.

While the suspension isn’t perfect, this Yaris is still quite comfortable. The hybrid engine is very smooth and pleasant in the city, although the gasoline engine is a little too noisy. At moderate speeds, the electric motor provides a quick acceleration without having to rev up the engine unreasonably. The feeling of transmission slippage – typical of continuously variable transmissions – is fairly limited. However, we regret that this engine shows its limits on the highway. The engine speed is high, which results in significant noise pollution. At high speeds, the electric motor can’t compensate for the petrol engine’s lack of power. Performance is still decent, but it’s not very pleasant.

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The foot peg energy recovery is adjustable on two levels (mode D and mode B). In B mode, it is quite pronounced, allowing you to use the brake pedal less often.

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Finally, the Yaris Hybrid has an EV mode that allows you to move on electric power alone at the touch of a button. However, it’s of little interest on a non-rechargeable model. It will barely be possible to go over a kilometre on electric power, at most, provided the battery is charged at the time of activation. If the state of charge is not sufficient, the system logically cannot be activated.

The Yaris is equipped with an armada of driving aids. It comes standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, including at intersections. It is even capable of acting on the steering if necessary. The Yaris also features adaptive cruise control, active until stopped, traffic sign reading, lane keeping assist and automatic high beam management as part of Toyota Safety Sense. Blind spot monitoring is also available as an option.