Toyota Yaris Hybrid, a Car of Many Good Deeds and a Few Sins
Toyota has been at it since before being green was cool, since before Hollywood celebrities wanted to save the polar bears, before Greenpeace had a reality TV show. Back in 1997 when the Toyota Prius went on sale in Japan, Nintendo 64 was still a brand new gaming console. We had floppy disks for goodness' sake.
Yet despite "Toyota" and "Hybrid" being siamese twins attached at the hip, they never managed to offer a convincingly mass-market hybrid in Europe. I'm talking about a car that everybody wants and can buy for no other reason besides it being the right car for them. Although the buyers don't seem to have noticed it yet, I think they came inches-close with the Yaris Hybrid.
Although Toyota has never officially admitted this completely, the Yaris Hybrid is the same car as the Prius C sold in America and its Japanese-speaking brother the Aqua. They all have the same 1.5-liter DOHC 16–valve with VVT-i, an electric motor and a combined output of 100 hp. They also share a number of body panels and all the glass, but have strategic differences, some of which I don't agree with. I'll get to that later, but first let me explain why the Yaris Hybrid is a good car for the European market.
As you've probably realized already, it's a supermini, and that puts it in the most successful category of vehicles in Europe. Competition is fierce, with the Fiesta, Polo and 208 leading the pack, all with their specific strong points. But the Yaris Hybrid has all the right moves that would get me to notice it if I was looking to a supermini.
It's reasonably compact (3905mm long), light for a hybrid (1,150 kg), offers a decent boot (296 liters) and with a top speed of 165 km/h and 0 to 100 km/h in 11.8 seconds is quite nippy. It should also be reliable and with a 5-year warranty, you're not going to have sleepless nights.
I might be biased here, but I think it's also amazing to look at, certainly better than the Citroen C3, Fiat Punto or Honda Jazz. A large black grille dominates the front end and makes it look bigger and more powerful than it actually is.
But its real strengths are in the drivetrain. Superminis usually have unrefined small engines and are preferred by women. In EV mode, the baby Prius is dead-quiet and the car comes with an automatic, so it's a lot more relaxing than anything else in the segment.
Now let's talk about the bad points, and by that I mean the single major blunder they committed by pricing like it was "special". The Yaris Hybrid feels just out of reach of regular supermini buyers, even the ones with big wallets. Yes, there are a few really posh diesels that can rival it, but this little fuel sipper could have been so much more if it had been… less.
The way it's designed and equipped, it's almost like they wanted to make a baby Lexus. Push button start, large color display, dual-zone climate control, leather steering and stick, rear parking sensors and a back-up camera… all these things make it really cool, but also put it out of reach of most people. A shame, really! Had it been just €1,500 cheaper, it would have made a lot more sense for normal people.
Too bad, Toyota could have been the maker of the hybrid everybody drives. Instead, they've just made a cool, good looking small hybrid that's more affordable, but still not cheap enough for 90% of supermini buyers.
comments written so far
I thought my 2013 C-MAX would be a Prius Killer? NOT! As a returning Ford buyer I feel deceived. I want to support US companies and US jobs. What was Ford thinking when they published 47/ 47/47 estimates? Based on the advertised EPA estimates, I would have been ok with low 40's but 28-33 mpg is not even in the ballpark. This is not an issue about EPA testing standards, but rather an issue about setting false customer expectations in order to promote sales. Ford's "47MPG" marketing campaign tarnished what should have been the roll out of a truly remarkable vehicle, the CMAX. Real world MPG estimates should have been promoted in the mid-30's. No one would have questioned those numbers and the CMAX would have received the accolades it deserves. How these MPG estimates made it through Ford corporate is beyond me! Maybe it was the rush to go to market? I have been accused of not knowing how to drive hybrid. For the record, during the last three years I have leased both a 2010 Prius and 2010 Honda Insight Hybrid, and consider myself an experienced hyper-miler. My mileage in the Prius is 50 plus, the Insight is 40 plus. The C-MAX is a well-built car, with extremely inflated EPA estimates. I respectfully request that this matter be investigated as soon as possible. My efforts to deal with this locally and through Ford customer service have frustrated me to no end. The constant response? "You need to learn to how to drive hybrid type of vehicle ". Is there a difference how I drive Prius Hybrid vs. the CMAX hybrid? I think we all know the answer to that. I need someone at Ford to reach out to me and assist in a proactive manner so we can put this matter to rest.
Ronald Kramer Yankee Ford Customer
South Portland, Maine