A few months back, Handy Toyota's blogging staff and the Handy Channel on YouTube broke the news of a new idea and new model in the Toyota hybrid and Hybrid Synergy Drive worlds, and many of you eco-friendly fanatics out there were riled up... and rightfully so. A Toyota Yaris Hybrid, similarly to the upcoming Prius c, would mean something huge for Toyota: combining the fuel efficiency of the Hybrid Synergy Drive engine with the small stature and gas-sipping makeup that is the Toyota Yaris. To me, the Yaris Hybrid sounds like a solid win.
As of now, unfortunately, we have no news as to whether the States will ever actually see a Yaris Hybrid driving through the greater Burlington, VT Toyota dealers' neighborhoods, but all is not lost. The United Kingdom's telegraph.co.uk was given a second opportunity to test drive the latest incarnation of the Yaris Hybrid, and writer Andrew English's synopsis is below.
St. Albans, VT 05478
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Toyota's Yaris Hybrid Review
By Andrew English, The Telegraph (telegraph.co.uk), January 31, 2012
Launched last year, the new Toyota Yaris comes in [gasoline], diesel and, from June, petrol/electric hybrid forms. When we tested the new car back in August, we decided that while it was adequately commodious, it wasn't up there in the Parthenon of small-car design. Impressively, though, Toyota's "Piccolo Genius" design ethos has allowed engineers to shoehorn a much-modified hybrid system under the bonnet and rear seats, so there is no cabin space or boot volume penalty in choosing the petrol/electric Yaris.
Compared to the Prius, the hybrid system in the Yaris is 440 pounds (20 percent) lighter. There are two new motors in the system, which reduce the size and mass of the hybrid transaxle. The petrol engine, transmission and power electronics fit under the bonnet, and a new smaller and lighter battery is mounted, along with the fuel tank, under the rear seats. In the cabin, there are a handful of changes: a Prius-style "combimeter" showing energy flows in the driveline, a blue-edged electronic gear lever, Toyota's touch screen with pale-blue illumination and a couple of extra buttons down near the gear lever for the Eco and Electric Vehicle [EV] modes.
As long as you aren't engaged in a grand prix, it will trundle silently away from a standstill using just battery power, and has a total EV range of 1.2 miles. It weighs about 20 per cent more than the standard petrol Yaris, however, so the petrol engine is spurred into life fairly quickly to maintain the performance.
You can sense that weight, too, with a [bulky] feel to the steering and the handling, but it should be agile enough for most owners and the damping control feels positive, and body roll well contained. The steering is high geared so you do a lot of twirling, but it is well-weighted for use around town. Toyota engineers have revised the engine-speed control to reduce the rubber-band driving effect that so plagues the Prius. By limiting the torque in acceleration and the amount of overrun/braking effect, they've tried to make the engine speed more accurately match the road speed.
On our short drive, it looked as though they've had success and there's a knack to keeping it refined and quiet.
Price is, of course, the key to making all this technology appeal to consumers. When it goes on sale in June [in Europe], it will cost about 15,000 pounds. That's about the same as that for a 1.4-liter diesel Yaris with continuously variable transmission, and undercuts Honda's rival hybrid Jazz by well over 1,000 pounds. Toyota reckons the hybrid will occupy about 20 per cent of all Yaris sales.
Didier Leroy, Toyota Motor Europe boss, says that for customers doing over 15,500 miles a year over three years, the hybrid will be cheaper than the diesel.
The Toyota Yaris Hybrid Specifications
- Tested: 1.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, with epicyclic based, two-motor battery electric hybrid system driving the front wheels
- MSRP: about 15,000 pounds
- Release date/time frame: June
- Power: engine 73 horsepower, motor 60 HP, battery 26 HP. Total system 99bhp
- Top speed: about 120 mph
- Acceleration: 0 - 62 mph in about 12 seconds
- Fuel economy: about 80 mpg
- Carbon dioxide emissions rating: about 85 g/km
- The verdict: Toyota's best hybrid yet; attractively priced and good to drive with some added tax advantages in the UK