Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) has given the new Yaris hybrid some mighty big expectations to live up to by declaring it to be the cheapest and smallest full hybrid on the local market, offering the lowest carbon emissions, compared with any other car in the country.
On paper, this indeed appears true. However, more importantly, practice backs up these claims, especially in terms of fuel efficiency – the ultimate money-in-pocket proof of any hybrid’s worth.
Driving Miss-Daisy-like, admittedly, from Pretoria to Hartebeespoort dam, the Yaris hybrid sipped even less than the claimed average 3.8 ℓ/100 km fuel consumption, the level at which TSAM promises a 88 g/km carbon dioxide emissions rate. In fact, the Yaris produces zero emissions 66% of its time on the road, and there is never a need to plug the vehicle in to recharge the battery. Just fill up and go, as with any normal vehicle.
The downsized full-hybrid system used in the Yaris combines a 1.5 ℓ petrol engine with a light, compact electric motor, a transaxle, an inverter and a battery pack. The total system weighs in at 201 kg – 20% (42 kg) less than the Toyota Auris hybrid.
The Yaris hybrid sees the first downsizing of Toyota’s hybrid technology, which is considered quite a breakthrough by the Japanese manufacturer’s engineers.
One example of component downsizing, leading to a more nimble-footed vehicle, is that the powertrain features a smaller, 144 V nickel-metal hydride battery with a more efficient vehicle electric power management system. The number of cells has been reduced from the 168 of the current Auris hybrid battery to 120, composed of 20 modules connected in series. This means a 20% decrease in volume, as well as a weight saving of 11 kg, allowing the new battery to fit snugly under the rear passenger seats, with no intrusion into the cargo load space.
Battery charging efficiency has also been improved, and the pack state-of-charge recovery time has been decreased by 67%, compared with the Auris hybrid.
Pricing for the B-segment Yaris starts at R223 800, beating its nearest competitor by a few thousand rands – which makes the claim of cheapest also ring true.
However, as the flagship model in the range, the hybrid remains around R40 000 more expensive than the comparable petrol version of the Yaris. Hybrids are not yet as cheap as standard internal combustion engines, although it can be argued that economies of scale are close at hand, with four-million Toyota hybrids already sold worldwide.
Will the Yaris hybrid save its owner enough on fuel to justify such a price jump? This is perhaps up to an individual to decide, and can depend on factors such as time spent on the road and whether the driver places a premium on cutting down on his or her carbon footprint.
The Yaris hybrid engine pushes out 55 kW of power and 111 Nm of torque. The electric motor offers 45 kW and 169 Nm of torque, available at 0 km/h.
The vehicle is available in two trim grades, namely XS and XR.
On the safety front, the five-star Euro-NCAP-rated Yaris has an antilock braking system with electronic brakeforce distribution, as well as vehicle stability control. In XS guise, the Yaris comes standard with four airbags, while the XR grade features seven.
Standard equipment on both models include automatic climate control with separate controls for the driver and the front passenger, remote central locking, touch-screen audio incorporating Bluetooth and an on-board computer, audio jack with USB port, steering wheel controls, height-adjustable driver’s seat, and follow-me-home headlights.
The XR-model also offers a push-start button, an illuminated glove box with cooling function, an eight-speaker sound system, electrically adjustable rear windows, height-adjustable front passenger seat, cruise control, illuminated vanity mirrors and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.
On both models, the Toyota touch-screen system incorporates a hybrid energy monitor which displays the real-time energy flow within the hybrid synergy drive system. Vehicle information displays include remaining fuel range, instant fuel consumption, average fuel consumption a minute over the last 15 minutes, time elapsed since last engine start, as well as a record of past consumption results.
TSAM also promises low maintenance costs on the Yaris hybrid, as the powertrain has been designed with no requirement for the clutch, starter motor, alternator belt and timing belt traditionally used in other vehicles.
And, thanks to the hybrid’s electronically controlled braking system, Toyota says life expectancy on the brake pads can potentially reach 100 000 km. It adds that combining this component longevity with reduced labour times during servicing means that maintenance costs on the hybrid over 100 000 km are expected to be among the lowest in the B-segment.
The full hybrid battery is designed to last the entire life of the car.
The new Yaris hybrid benefits from a three-year/100 000 km warranty, extended to eight years/195 000 km on hybrid system components, including the battery.
As with other Yaris models, the vehicle comes with a standard four-year/60 000 km service plan.