Toyota Yaris Hybrid interior & comfort
While not quite as up-to-date in design as the Ford Fiesta and SEAT Ibiza, the Yaris is at least attractive inside, and the hybrid version is barely any different to the rest of the range in this regard. Build quality is good – a welcome Toyota trait – and the materials used look and feel like they'll stand the test of time.
The Yaris Hybrid is peaceful for passengers around town. At very low speeds and for short distances, you'll only hear the electric motor's faint whir, as well as a hushed rumble of road noise from the tyres. Even when the petrol engine cuts in, it does so with little fuss.
However, the tranquility is broken when you accelerate to higher cruising speeds, when that CVT gearbox causes the engine revs to increase for a sustained period.
On the motorway, you'll hear quite a bit of noise from the wind as it passes over the bodywork, and the Yaris is a little louder inside than some supermini rivals. The ride is a little bouncy and unsettled, too, and small cars like the Volkswagen Polo have the Yaris beaten for long-distance comfort.
Toyota Yaris Hybrid dashboard
From behind the wheel of the Yaris Hybrid, there are few clues that you're sitting in anything other than a regular petrol-powered car. Only the 'efficiency' gauge gives the game away – it takes the places of a rev counter and displays your current energy demand while driving.
The needle winds around into the 'power' section when you're accelerating hard, and remains in the green 'eco' sector when you're making efficient use of energy. You'll see the needle pull back into the blue 'charge' sector when you apply the brakes and the regenerative charging circuit is brought into play.
There's a colour digital display between the efficiency gauge and speedometer; this shows other driving information such as fuel range and battery charge.
Aside from a few flashes of eco-themed blue trim, the rest of the dashboard is as you'll find in the regular Yaris. Even the gear selector looks no different to that in petrol automatic models, but is flanked by buttons for Eco and EV modes.
Every model apart from entry-level Active gets a seven-inch central infotainment screen. The Active makes do with a more traditional stereo, but still has buttons on the steering wheel so you can control it without taking your eyes off the road.
Equipment, options and accessories
The Yaris is offered in six trim levels, each of which can be specified with the hybrid engine. None is lacking in standard equipment; even entry-level Active Hybrid has dual-zone air conditioning, Bluetooth, rain-sensing wipers and the Toyota Safety Sense pack, which includes autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure warning and auto-dipping headlights.
The Icon is far more attractive on the outside as well as being more lavishly equipped, and we reckon it represents the best value for money in the range. Outside, grey 15-inch alloy wheels and body-coloured mirrors lend distinction, while the list of standard equipment grows with cruise control, road-sign recognition, a leather steering wheel and Toyota's Touch 2 infotainment system. This has a seven-inch touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth music streaming and a reversing camera.
Icon Tech adds sat nav to the infotainment system, a black finish to the 15-inch alloy wheels and, unusually, front parking sensors. Rear sensors remain optional, although there's a reversing camera already on board. The Yaris Design brings extra distinctiveness to the car's exterior, with bigger 16-inch wheels, a honeycomb front grille, rear tinted privacy glass and a rear spoiler. It forgoes the Icon Tech's sat nav, though.
The Bi-Tone version, as its name suggests, breaks the bodywork up into two colour zones – a metallic colour for the doors and body panels and a contrasting dark grey that flows from the headlights to the window frames and roof. It also adds LED rear lights and electric rear windows.
Range-topping Excel looks rather more low-key, but gains a unique design of 16-inch alloy wheels and chrome lower sill covers outside, plus an upgrade to mixed fabric, leather and Alcantara suede upholstery inside. You can opt for a panoramic sunroof on Excel and Design cars, and sat nav remains an optional extra on all models except the Icon Tech.
Infotainment, apps & sat nav
The entry-level Yaris Active has an old-fashioned FM radio with CD player that can play discs that contain WMA and MP3 music files. There's a USB socket to play music from a memory stick, too, and Bluetooth connection, but only to place and receive phone calls.
The Touch2 system that's standard on all other models is markedly more sophisticated. It has a seven-inch touchscreen display, support for Bluetooth music streaming and DAB radio. It also supports connected services when tethered to your mobile phone, using your data allowance.
Services include real-time traffic information provided by TomTom, and Google Street View, so you can familiarise yourself with what an unknown destination looks like.
Do note, though, that sat nav is only part of the system if you choose the Icon Tech trim level, or add navigation as an optional extra.