Yaris is the ultimate urban car

Bobby Cheetham

THE World of Wheels was stunned beyond belief last week! Never in more than 30 years of writing about and testing vehicles have we ever experienced something quite like the new Toyota Yaris Hybrid.

We even suggest we may have achieved a South African first in respect of fuel consumption for a passenger vehicle.

Toyota launched its B-Segment Yaris Hybrid, available in HSD XS and HSD VR models, the world’s smallest full hybrid they claim, from the basement of the University of Pretoria.

The downsized hybrid system combines a substantially re-engineered 1.5 litre petrol engine with a lighter, more compact electric motor, transaxle, inverter and battery pack.

The company claims a low fuel consumption (average fuel consumption of just 3.8 l/100km), low environmental impact, strong acceleration, great manoeuvrability and unique all-electric EV capabilities, which they say represents the ultimate urban car.

Well is it? Yes!

First of all, the World of Wheels (along with media colleague Steve Mearns) were able to disprove Toyota’s claimed fuel consumption figures of 3.8 l/100km.

In fact we beat it hands down!

The Yaris Hybrid we drove returned figures of just 1.68 litres per 100km – perhaps a first in South Africa for a commercially-available passenger vehicle.

And just to make sure all was above board, Richard Carstens, South African Motorsport and chief Total Economy Run official was on hand to supervise the run from Tukkies to Hartbeespoort Dam, a distance of 130km.

He topped up the fuel tanks on the cars and then sealed them with tape and a dab of glue to ensure that there were not tampered with.

They were unsealed at the end of the run and topped up to establish the consumption figures.

The one hour, 40 minute run consisted of heavy city traffic, urban roads and many hilly conditions.

In fact it’s what one can expect in everyday driving conditions.

Then, just when we had established what we had previously thought of as being impossible, our colleagues from the Sowetan went one better and returned fuel consumption figures of 1.66 litres per 100km!

What is the Yaris Hybrid?

The car has a 1497cc, 16-valve, DOHC Atkinson cycle petrol engine, with VVT-i and is based on the engine block of the second generation Prius, but has been completely re-engineered.

It is 50mm shorter and 17kg lighter than the 1.8 litre unit of existing Toyota full hybrid powertrains, equating to a 10% reduction in length and a 17% reduction in weight.

The new engine generates a maximum 55kW at 4800rpm and maximum torque of 111Nm from 3600 to 4400rpm.

With a focus on lower emissions and the minimisation of mechanical friction for improved fuel efficiency, some 70% of all engine components are either new or redesigned.

There is no doubt Toyota are leading the way in hybrid vehicles (they sell the technology to other motor companies) and it will be interesting to see if they sell the planned 25 Yaris Hybrids a month they envisage.

Would I buy one?

Yes, but only as a second car or a city run about.

It takes concentration and lots of driver input to achieve these staggering fuel consumption figures.

The new Yaris Hybrid has a three year/100000km warranty, extended to eight years/195000km on hybrid system components, including the battery.

As with other Yaris models, the new HSD range comes with a standard four-year/60000km service plan.

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