Toyota Yaris Cross review

Toyota Yaris Cross review

We test the chunky crossover version of Toyota’s fuel-efficient Yaris…

Since childhood, we have been told that practice makes perfect. We have learned that nothing is achieved or improved without hard work and repetition. As the great golfer, Gary Player, once said: “The harder I practice, the luckier I get.”

All manufacturing and technical companies focus on one aspect of their general operations so that they become expert and gain a certain reputation that attracts clients who have confidence in their products and services.

Toyota Yaris Cross review

Car companies are no different. For example, Porsche’s cars are dynamic to drive with supreme build quality, while Skodas are spacious and deliver great value for money.

Toyota is known for many things – and hybrid technology is right up there. The Japanese giant was the first to launch a mainstream model that combined petrol and electric drive with the Prius in 2000 (UK debut). What’s more, it’s been able to use that knowledge and expertise gained over the years to constantly improve the system and apply it to a broader range of models.

Toyota Yaris Cross review

The highly successful Yaris supermini has become a hybrid-only car since its last major update in 2020 and combines a 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with a small battery and electric motor.

Now, to compete in the currently popular small SUV sector, Toyota has launched the Yaris Cross, which has the same chassis and powertrain, but rides higher and has an off-roader look.

The electric motor produces up to 79bhp and the maximum output for petrol and electric combined is 116bhp. The gearbox is an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) and drive is through the front wheels.

Toyota Yaris Cross review

There will be a four-wheel drive option in due course but you will pay an extra £2,360 for the benefit. The range offers five levels of trim and equipment – Icon, Design, Excel, Dynamic and Premiere edition.

However, even the base Icon has keyless entry, Apple CarPlay, 16-inch alloy wheels, a rear camera, climate control and adaptive cruise control.

My test car came in Design trim with a ticket price of £24,140 and added LED lighting, 20:40:20 folding seats and 17-inch alloys, though the slightly bigger 9.0-inch infotainment screen (usually 8.0-inch) was an extra £500.

Toyota Yaris Cross review

The Yaris Cross looks smart and the bodywork boasts the usual rugged black plastic wheel-arch extensions and raised ride height shared with other small SUVs. If anything it’s more baby RAV4 than big Yaris.

The interior is basically the same as the new Yaris hatchback, which means that it’s clear, functional, modern and features the latest technology.

Rear space is pretty good for two with average knee room, but would be a push for three adults. The boot is roomy at 397 litres (expanding to 1,097 litres with the rear seats flipped down). A raised and flat false floor is available on higher trim levels.

Toyota Yaris Cross review

So how does all this cutting-edge hybrid technology work on the road? Is it smooth in operation and does it provide decent fuel economy?

Well, the clever electronics ensure that the Yaris runs on pure electric power up to 30mph until the battery runs out or you need extra acceleration. It then transfers to hybrid drive and the change is seamless. Engine noise is suppressed and the CVT transmission works well, as long as you don’t floor the accelerator, at which point the revs shoot up.

A dashboard display tells you how much electric driving you are doing and the state of the battery. I found that this encourages a gentler driving style which can only benefit economy.

Toyota Yaris Cross review

In fact, despite an officially quoted fuel consumption of 55-60mpg, I managed to get an indicated 70mpg on a particular varied run without too much trouble. Impressive stuff. The handling is pretty good and the steering is sharp, though some may find the ride is on the firm side.

Overall, it would be wrong to call it a dynamic drive, but then it’s not designed for that. Buy the awesome GR Yaris if you want serious fun.

So, job done for the boldy styled, spacious new Yaris Cross, which works as a good value, fuel-efficient commuter or small family car.

Test Facts

  • Toyota Yaris Cross 1.5 VVT-i Design
  • Body: Five door SUV
  • Engine: 1.0 litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol / electric hybrid
  • Power: 115 bhp
  • Torque: 120 Nm
  • Top Speed: 105 mph
  • Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 11.2 secs
  • WLTP combined mpg: 54.3 to 64.1 mpg
  • CO2 emissions: 102 g/km
  • Range priced from £22,515

Toyota UK

Ford Puma ST review

Ford Puma ST

A little over a year since its launch, and the Ford Puma compact crossover has become a firm fixture in the Top 10 UK best-selling cars list.

Up until now it’s only been available with the excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine in various states of tune, but now there’s the sporty ST version.

Using the same 197bhp 1.5-litre turbo three-cylinder unit as the Fiesta ST (but with torque boosted from 214lb ft to 236lb ft), Ford hopes it can work the same magic with this distinctive, slightly bigger, more practical car.

Ford Puma ST

At first glance, there’s not much to distinguish the ST from the smaller-engined ST-Line, apart from ST badging and a few subtle tweaks, including twin exhaust tips and new alloys.

This is probably the right decision because too many boy racer additions would limit its appeal. Plus, if you opt for Mean Green, you stand out quite enough, thank you very much.

Inside, the biggest difference is a pair of Recaro sports seats, a flat-bottomed ST steering wheel, plus ST-branded gear knob and door sill protectors.

Ford Puma ST

Elsewhere, the ST gets the same 12.3-inch digital driver’s display and 8.0-inch central infotainment screen as a high-spec regular Puma, with built-in sat-nav, Apple and Android smartphone mirroring and a wireless phone-charging pad.

The 456-litre boot is also carried over, along with the waterproof and drainable ‘Megabox’ underfloor storage area.

Some scoff at the Megabox because it’s just utilising the space where traditionally a full-sized spare wheel would be kept. This is true, but the extra storage makes a huge difference and the Puma really can swallow a surprising amount of luggage.

Ford Puma ST

Power is sent through the front wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox, resulting in a 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds, a 137mph top speed, fuel economy of 40.9mpg and CO2 emissions of 155g/km CO2.

Other changes out of sight include a suspension that’s firmer and lower, plus uprated anti-roll bars.

Sounds good on paper, but how does it go, and is it worthy of the ST badge? Well, the standard Puma drives pretty much how you’d expect a crossover based on the acclaimed Fiesta to drive, which is no bad thing.

Ford Puma ST

The Puma ST takes it up a notch or two, blending impressive engine responsiveness with quick steering, powerful brakes and excellent body control.

Accelerate hard out of a bend and the traction is superb, thanks to an optional mechanical limited-slip differential (a rarity in this price range) and specially-developed Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.

There’s no shortage of grunt from the engine, while the slick six-speed gearbox has a short shift action and the gear ratios are well chosen.

Ford Puma ST

Even the driving position, complemented by supportive Recaros, is near perfect.

Ok, it’s not quite as nimble as the smaller Fiesta ST, but Ford’s engineers have done a fantastic job crafting a compact crossover this engaging to drive.

There are four selectable driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport and Track), but with a ride that is on the firm side, Normal will do just fine for everyday driving and reserve Sport for fun on more challenging roads.

Ford Puma ST

Claimed fuel economy is pretty much on the money, though we managed to squeeze as much as a 45mpg out of it on a steady motorway run.

Competitively priced from £28,510, a Performance Pack (with goodies including a Mechanical Limited Slip Differential and Launch Control) is an extra £950, while the £600 Drive Assistance Pack adds nice-to-haves such as Adaptive Cruise Control and a rear-view camera.

Verdict: With its winning blend of dynamic drive, practicality and cool looks, the well-equipped, surprisingly spacious Puma ST sports crossover is a welcome addition to the Fast Ford family.