Toyota has drawn on all its compact SUV know-how and city car expertise to develop the all-new Yaris Cross. It’s a five-door model that’s big on personality, practicality and performance.
The goodStyling, technology, handling and running costs
The badOver-complicated tft screen
Toyota Yaris Cross – First Drive (2021)
Toyota’s award-winning Yaris line-up has just got even more appealing with the arrival of the all-new five-door Yaris Cross compact SUV.
With prices starting from £22,515, customers can choose from richly-equipped trim levels called Icon, Design, Excel, Dynamic and a limited-run Premiere Edition which will be on sale for about a year. There is also the option to upgrade to intelligent all-wheel drive on the high-end models for £2,360 extra.
At the heart of the vehicle, which is built in France specifically for European customers, is a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder hybrid engine, which together with the electric motors, delivers 114bhp with 120Nm of torque.
The car can reach 62mph from a standing start in 11.2 seconds (11.8 seconds on AWD-i versions) and tops out at 106mph while delivering up to 56.5mpg and from 112g/km carbon emissions on a combined run.
Compared to the standard Yaris city car, the Yaris Cross is 95mm taller, 20mm wider and 240mm longer with the same wheelbase. Customers can choose from 16, 17 or 18-inch wheels depending on trim level.
We tested the Yaris Cross Dynamic front-wheel drive model costing £26,465 – this price was bumped up by a further £450 as there was a JBL premium sound system added to the mix.
When viewed from any angle, the Yaris Cross boasts quite aggressive SUV styling similar to the RAV4 which it draws many design cues from. There are twin front grilles, chunky black wheel arches, a black roof, plus slim headlights and circular fog lamps at the bottom of the grille.
There are black wheels and door pillars, along with privacy glass and smart LED lights at the back with sequential turn indicators.
Moving inside, the Yaris Cross is big on space with smart cloth upholstery and a clutter-free, yet feature rich cockpit. The vehicle sees the debut of Toyota’s new Smart Connect Multimedia system with faster operation and additional functionality. There is the Touch 2 multimedia system with a nine-inch high-definition touchscreen, DAB radio, sat nav and wireless smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It has a separate panel for the climate control and seat heaters, plus a neat screen behind the steering wheel offering up all manner of information about hybrid driving performance, speed and fuel levels etc.
The driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility and the acceleration from the CVT gearbox is smooth and responsive with plenty of power on tap at all times. It’s a car that cruises effortlessly at 70mph on motorways and is nice and agile in town centres where a new upgraded parking system makes very light work of squeezing into tight spaces – even at night.
Out on the country lanes, the Yaris Cross offers confident grip through tight bends and the cabin is nicely refined with very little wind or road surface noise filtering through.
The driver can switch through drive modes called Normal, Eco and Power that alter the reactions of the car and there is an EV-only mode which is ideal when travelling through Congestion Charge zones. Extra energy can be recouped through regenerative braking and this is sharper if the vehicle is switched from D for Drive to B mode whereby the car brakes as soon as you lift your foot off the accelerator.
Comfort levels are really good and there is ample room for a couple of passengers in the back provided the front seats are not pushed back too far. Add a third and it gets a little too cosy.
The boot can swallow 397 litres of kit – a limit that increases to 1,097 litres with either the 60:40 or 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats dropped flat. And there are a number of handy storage options scattered throughout the cabin too.
Although the Yaris Cross has yet to be tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating, the Yaris was awarded the maximum five stars and this latest version is packed with many of the same safety systems.
It has all the second-generation Safety Sense features as standard across the entire range such as pre-collision system, lane trace assist, full-range intelligent adaptive cruise control, road sign assist and automatic high beam. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are options on the high-end models.
Toyota predicts the Design trim level will account for about 50 per cent of sales and, despite initially believing only three per cent of buyers would opt for AWD-i, initial pre-sales figures show that number to be nearer to 10-15 per cent.
All in all, Toyota has taken the compact SUV qualities from the RAV4 (which is now celebrating its 25th anniversary) and added lots of Yaris city car DNA to the mix to develop the all-new Yaris Cross which is very big on style, appeal, practicality and performance.