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Toyota Yaris Cross engines, driving and performance

How does the Toyota Yaris Cross drive?

Most Yaris Cross drivers aren't looking for a heart-pounding race-car experience, and Toyota has wisely engineered the car to be easy rather than entertaining.

That means it doesn't exactly relish rapid direction changes and aggressive steering, with the fairly soft suspension giving way to a fair amount of body roll. This blunts any sense of sharpness at the front axle, further discouraging over-enthusiastic driving.

Take it easy, however, and the Yaris Cross makes total sense. The controls are light, accurate and responsive, so you don't need lots of steering or pedal effort to make the car go where you point it. There's also plenty of composure in the suspension setup, so it grips keenly through turns and at higher motorway speeds, again taking more mental effort out of the task of driving.

Is the Toyota Yaris Cross comfortable?

This is an area where the regular Yaris hatch falls a little short – the Yaris Cross, however, returns a much better score card. It's possibly one or two notches shy of the most smooth-riding cars in the class, but it absorbs most of the heavy impacts from big bumps and almost all of the high-frequency vibrations from rough road surfaces before they make it to your seat.

It also noticeably more refined than its hatchback sibling. The 1.5-litre petrol engine has a tendency to roar up to high revs when you ask for lots of acceleration – a side-effect of its CVT-style automatic gearbox. This sound is better insulated in the Yaris Cross than the regular Yaris, however, so motorway slip roads are much less likely to give you tinnitus. Other sounds from the tyres, suspension and ambient traffic are also a little quieter in the Yaris Cross.

What’s the best Toyota Yaris Cross engine to get?

You'll find just the one engine in the Yaris Cross with your only real choice being whether to select the i-AWD four-wheel-drive system. Considering this option robs the car of some mpg points and a little performance, we'd suggest almost all buyers are better off with the front-wheel-drive version.

Thankfully, the 1.5-litre full-hybrid petrol engine is a great match for this car. At urban speeds, you feel lots of brawny assistance from the electric motor, which gives the Yaris Cross great reflexes, allowing you to nip through gaps in traffic with ease.

Heading up to higher speeds sees the petrol engine play a bigger role, with enough overall horsepower to get up to motorway speeds without much hassle. Going full throttle does remind you that the Yaris Cross's outright performance isn't especially remarkable, however, but few buyers in this segment need hot-hatch thrills.

Toyota Yaris Cross performance

Set the Yaris Cross off on the benchmark 0-62mph sprint and it'll complete it in 11.2 seconds – or 11.8 for i-AWD versions. That isn't impressive on paper and, indeed, fails to excite in the real world either. Full throttle also sends maximum engine noise into the cabin, which doesn't feel in-spirit with the Yaris Cross' more relaxed ethos.

Where the hybrid setup really shines is in regular driving rather than the race track. Here, the fast responses of the electric motor mean the car feels reactive and zippy around town, with smooth acceleration thanks to the petrol-electric combination. Plus, once you stop thrashing the poor petrol engine, you'll find the car can return staggering economy – our test car showed 62mpg as a long-term average.

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