Toyota Yaris Cross enters the frame as handy urban runaround

A tough but compact little cookie, everything about the Toyota Yaris Cross is modest and unassuming – a friendly urban hybrid

Toyota Yaris Cross
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On the face of it, the Toyota Yaris family is the very picture of conformity, a collection of polite compact cars with global appeal and no desire to rock the boat. The ‘Yaris’ name – apparently derived from the Charites, the Greek goddesses of beauty – has been around since 1999.

From the first generation onwards, the template has remained the same, a compact supermini-style car for markets around the world, with some subtle body variants depending on regional taste (sedans for Asia and South America, hatchbacks for Europe).

Toyota Yaris Cross hybrid

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Most Yaris customers are either very young or very old, and the basic car exudes a classless pragmatism that is largely missing from today’s brand-driven marketplace.

In the past there’s also been a mini MPV, the Yaris Verso (although admittedly the Japan-market name was better – the Toyota FunCargo), and for those in the know, there’s also the exceptionally good GR Yaris, a cultish high-performance version that shares a family likeness but little else with the stock machine.

Yaris hybrid car

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This is the Yaris Cross, built in France using the same platform as the regular flavour Yaris. As you can see, it is a tough little cookie, with pumped-up suspension and the black plastic wheel arches and body trim that have become visual shorthand for ‘utility’ and practicality.

Although it obviously rides a little higher than the standard car, the Yaris Cross is precisely the same length, at 4.1m. A hybrid power unit pairs a 3-cylinder engine with a rear-mounted electric motor, and the car benefits from Toyota’s multi-million unit experience of combining battery power with an internal combustion engine, making it extremely efficient and easy to use.

Golden colour Toyota hybrid car

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Everything about the Yaris Cross is modest and unassuming. Despite the jacked-up styling, it’s hardly aggressive, with a friendly face and compact dimensions. Much has been written about the validity of driving big SUVs in cities, but smaller crossovers like this make far more sense.

The elevated driving position puts you closer to eye level with cyclists and pedestrians, and the little Yaris is well proportioned without relying on excessively awkward styling elements.

Golden colour Toyota hybrid car interior

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The interior includes a ubiquitous touch screen display but goes the analogue route for heating and ventilation, and there are useful trays and pockets for bits and pieces scattered around the cabin. The steering is light and responsive, with the battery giving a welcome added zip to the acceleration.

At highway speeds, the Cross isn’t quite as smooth and silent as an EV equivalent, but it is comfortable, well-equipped, and perfectly capable of serving as an effective long-distance machine as well as a runaround.

Hybrid Yaris car from above

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Car use is changing fast. Compact hybrids are still a compelling proposition for a small(ish) car, even if the tech is relatively complex. And being a Toyota, one expects the Yaris Cross will last forever.

In fact, we suspect that when the curtains finally come down on the combustion engine’s access to major city centres, the Yaris Cross will still be going strong, even if it no longer has an urban environment to play in.


Toyota Yaris Cross, from £28,950

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.