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CAR OF THE WEEK: Yaris Cross a smart and reliable family favourite

April 12th, 2024 8:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

CAR OF THE WEEK: Yaris Cross a smart and reliable family favourite Image

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THREE models were responsible for more than half of all Toyota’s sales in Ireland last year: the Corolla first, then the Toyota Cross ahead of the Yaris hatchback.

With not a great deal of distance between them — in horse-race terms, say a head apiece. And with the Corolla and Yaris Cross in third and fourth place respectively in all cars sold here in 2023, it certainly must have made Toyota Ireland very happy with the Japanese company’s overall models strategy, which also saw it very comfortably the top-placed car brand performer in Ireland.

The Yaris Cross is somewhat larger than the hatchback on which it is based, in every dimension except the wheelbase. As a crossover-SUV format car it also rides higher, and the styling along with larger wheels also makes it seem bigger. Key competitors are Renault’s Captur, Volkswagen’s T-Cross, and Nissan’s Juke. So it is competing in a crowded market. And clearly well able for that competition.

It’s a good looker, with a strong front, and yet is less a sculpted style icon than its larger sibling C-HR, recently arrived in a new iteration.

Winning the 2022 World Urban Car of the Year title positions the Yaris Cross right in its target space: the young suburban family that needs more capacity but not yet a substantially larger car.

My review car was the top-level GR Sport version which arrived in Ireland less than a year ago. The visual additions beyond badging include techier lower front grille and rear diffuser treatments, as well as its own style of alloys.

The inside shares a number of style features with the Yaris hatchback, though there are differences in the actual dashboard trimming. The GR Sport trim adds red-stitched details to the seats, steering wheel and transmission shifter. As well as a GR badge on the steering wheel, in case you forget what you have. A full-length glass roof in my car added to a very airy feeling for all passengers, those in the rear having more leg and headroom than in the Yaris hatch. But the real plus from the longer body is for their luggage, with 38% more capacity in its 397L. The car also had a double deck boot, allowing for a concealed under space or the option of carrying taller stuff.

All Yaris Cross models sold in Ireland are hybrid, with the same 1.5 3-pot petrol and electric motor system as in the hatchback. The E-CVT automatic transmission is the same too. Some people don’t like how CVTs sound when pushing on, but they’re efficient and I have no issue with them (full disclosure, made before, our family car is a Yaris hybrid hatch). Having the same engine does mean that the Yaris Cross is slower to 100km/h, and I also found that the 4.8L/100km I got is a little thirstier than the hatch. Still a frugal little beast, though. Anyone familiar with Toyota hybrids — which effectively means the vast bulk of the brand’s buyers — will be comfortable with their seamless operation.

All Yaris Cross variants get the full range of Toyota’s driver assist features, including active cruise control and lane assist — that latter can be turned off as required by a simple button on the steering wheel. The GR Sport gets a tighter suspension setting than its companion variants, but without any extra power, that’s really a moot benefit. The car is best simply regarded as a reliable, smart looking small family carrier. In that, it pretty well does what it’s supposed to do in an exemplary fashion. If I was required to find a significant fault with the Yaris Cross, I wouldn’t be able.

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