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Toyota Yaris engines, driving and performance

How does the Toyota Yaris drive?

The latest Toyota Yaris impresses as soon as you pull away. Responses from the steering wheel and pedals are intuitive, so it's easy to make smooth progress. Unlike some rival hybrids, you don’t have to second guess whether the regenerative braking will suddenly jerk you to a stop.

Turn into a corner and the firm suspension keeps the car level, which might see you attack a country road with more enthusiasm than you might expect when driving a sensible Toyota. We’re also fans of the way the fairly thin steering wheel feels in your hand, compared to the overly stuffed wheels you’ll find in a Mini Hatchback, for example.

Overall the Yaris is fun and easy to drive – not quite matching the dynamic heights achieved by the Ford Fiesta, but far more fun than cars like the Volkswagen Polo or Vauxhall Corsa. This isn’t a car that appreciates being driven like a hooligan, however, and will eventually start to wallow over bumps if you drive way too fast – if that sounds like you, check out the much sportier Toyota GR Yaris, which puts driving thrills above all else.

Is the Toyota Yaris comfortable?

To achieve the surprisingly sporty handling, Toyota has set the Yaris up quite firm. It’s never uncomfortable, with enough damping in the suspension to absorb big impacts, but it doesn’t tune out the road surface as well as the Volkswagen Polo or Citroen C3.

The firm setup also means impacts through the suspension are heard as well as felt, with dull thuds being audible over cracked road surfaces. Get up to speed and tyre roar also makes itself known in the cabin, although wind noise is fairly well suppressed. Refinement from the hybrid engine is mostly excellent until you call for hard acceleration, at which point the engine revs flare and disturb the relative calm.

What’s the best Toyota Yaris engine to get?

There’s just one engine in the Yaris range, but it’s a good one. It’s a full-hybrid setup featuring a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine aided by an electric motor. Where old hybrids had an ‘elastic-band’ feeling, this new setup is really responsive, with the motor providing lots of initial thrust when you set off.

The petrol engine kicks in once the speed or load builds up and has more than enough power to get the Yaris up to motorway speeds without complaint. Hard acceleration will see the engine rev up to a high rpm, which does compromise refinement somewhat, but the hybrid system is mostly powerful enough that you shouldn’t have to do that too often.

With such a focus on improving the performance of its hybrids, it’s good that Toyota hasn’t lost sight of their most important aspect – to be efficient. Drive sensibly and the Yaris should be able to return nearly 70mpg, making it one of the most efficient cars that doesn’t plug in to charge.

Toyota Yaris performance

The Yaris impresses most in day-to-day driving where the punchy electric motor means nippy acceleration around town speeds. It’s a little less impressive under very hard acceleration where the combined power of the engine and electric motor can be described as decent rather than outstanding. Nevertheless, the engine and motor combo will easily get you to motorway speeds without complaint.

More performance is available, however – much more performance – if you look instead at the rally-bred Toyota GR Yaris. This super-hatch shares a name with the hybrid Yaris but that’s about it – the rest is a four-wheel drive, 257hp, custom-built road racer that feels and drives totally unlike its sibling.

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