Clearly, the task is not going to be easy for the new Yaris Cross. Toyota is indeed betting to shake up the market benchmarks in the urban SUV segment. However, it is already crowded with the Ford Puma, Renault Captur or Peugeot 2008 and Citroën C3 AirCross. Despite this competition, the manufacturer does not dismantle and even aims to sell 30,000 Yaris Cross per year, or even to appear in the top 5, the Yaris already occupying the first place of the top 10 best-selling hybrids in France. … To get an idea of the realism of this lens, we took in hand the new Yaris Cross in its 4×2 Collection and 4×4 Premiere versions in the Nice hinterland. Here is our verdict.
The Yaris Cross is a compact SUV designed in Toyota’s European Design Center in Sophia Antipolis and produced at the Valenciennes Onnaing site. This model can therefore boast of being entirely produced in France and of having received the Origine France Garantie certification by Bureau Veritas. One more argument for those who consider that the country of origin of their vehicle is a selection criterion.
Based on the TNGA-B platform of the city car of the same name, the Yaris Cross benefits from a total length increased by 240 mm to reach 4.18 m long, 1.76 m wide and 1.59 m high. In addition to its stretched proportions, it benefits from an increased ground clearance of 2.5 cm to offer more versatility on rough terrain. We will have the opportunity to discuss this aspect a little later.
To compensate for a higher center of gravity, the urban SUV benefits from revised running gears by adopting a new combined spring-shock absorbers, a 29% stiffer rear torsion axle and a stiffer front torsion bar. The four-wheel drive version also benefits from a multi-link rear axle. This additional equipment obviously causes overweight compared to the sedan of 134 kg on the 4×2 version (1170 kg). The 4×4 version weighs 1260 kg with its additional electric motor on the rear axle.
The Yaris Cross, available only with the 1.5 l 3-cylinder hybrid engine with Atkinson cycle, starts at € 25,500 and climbs to € 34,500 depending on the trim levels. To get an idea, the Renault Captur starts at € 27,100 and the test version that we had taken in hand, in RS Line finish, is displayed at € 31,900.
Our trial version Yaris Cross Collection (€ 30,500) includes a 7-inch digital speedometer, a new 9-inch touchscreen interface (finally modernized), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the head-up display, a reversing camera with parking sensors, dual-zone air conditioning, heated front seats, as well as headlights and lights full led, a biton body and 18-inch alloy wheels. Regarding driving equipment, there is an adaptive cruise control with lane keeping, reading of traffic signs, detection of pedestrians at night and a pre-collision system.
The Yaris Cross Première version (available only the first year of commercialization) adds the pure gold biton body and black roof, leather upholstery, an 8 HP JBL audio system, another semi-autonomous parking, an induction smartphone charger and the tailgate opening at the foot. It also adds an electric motor on the rear axle which allows the intelligent non-permanent AWD-i all-wheel drive coupled to different terrain modes: Snow, Normal or Trail.
On the road
Obviously, the first thing that strikes you is the access to board facilitated by the enlarged bodywork, especially at the rear. Passengers benefit from more head and leg room. The boot has a volume of 397 l (327 l for the 4×4 version) and has a modular double boot floor. For the record, Toyota offers a canvas rear shelf to prevent occupants from placing heavy objects on it. It folds up like a Queschua tent in 2 s.
At the front, the finish is correct, like the Yaris, but the materials are “all-plastic” and not very pleasant to the touch. The atmosphere is therefore a little sad. On the other hand, we welcome the change of interface: the menus are clearer, better organized, but the whole still lacks responsiveness. The instrumentation is also evolving with more readable digital counters.
The driving position, higher than the sedan, allows you to dominate the road. The various settings allow you to sit comfortably and the steering wheel is well in hand, even if the boeotian will undoubtedly be confused by the abundance of buttons. Nevertheless, the field of vision is clear, enhanced by a head-up display system that provides speed or navigation information without taking your eyes off the road.
The Yaris Cross uses the 1.5 liter 3-cylinder Atkinson-cycle hybrid engine from the sedan developing 116 hp. It is coupled to an e-CVT box which, unfortunately, will not reconcile those allergic to this automatic transmission. The feeling of driving a scooter remains strong regardless of the driving mode. You can indeed choose between Eco, Normal and Power, but only the response to the accelerator changes. The most disturbing remains the passage between the electric and thermal motors. When the latter kicks in, the buzzing is quite present in the passenger compartment and generates a somewhat unpleasant vibration. Above all, by pulling on it on the climb that leads us to the Col de Vence, its garish side does not encourage sporty driving. The Yaris Cross is not made for that anyway.
A remarkable average consumption
This model appreciates more a driving cast, on the couple. If the small engine lacks watts, we can see the good work on the chassis and the contained roll. On the descent to Cannes, the front axle allows the steering wheels to be well guided. Of course, we lose a bit in agility compared to the sedan, but overall the body remains responsive and healthy, even by relieving a bit of the rear. The suspension is a little dry on the retarders, but it must be said that the low-profile tires (215 / 50R18) on the 18-inch rims do not necessarily contribute to comfort.
A final word on driving in rough terrain: the Yaris Cross is distinguished by its ability to drive very easily on dirt roads and the travel of its suspensions makes it possible to face somewhat uneven terrain or potholes with a certain serenity. The SUV is by no means a franchiser, but it is largely capable of venturing out on roads if need be.
By adopting reasoned driving: Eco mode in the city, Normal mode on the road, Power mode on the motorway and in all the small open roads in the hinterland, we consumed an average of 5.4 l per 100 km over the day, a remarkable figure for the category.
In the end, the Toyota Yaris Cross is a serious proposition that presents solid arguments for gaining a place in the segment. It has the advantage of offering a daring look of an adventurer and not just the appearance. Admittedly, its interior lacks cheerfulness and the materials are a little rough, but it is well equipped. Finally, its engine is not made to adopt a frivolous driving, but its measured appetite will reconcile you with your banker, failing to afford a floor price. Be careful, the Renault Captur E-Tech (more powerful) and the Toyota C-HR (more powerful and larger) for example, offer a fairly close performance / price ratio.