Small hatchbacks are big sellers and there are a bewildering number available in this crowded market sector which is dominated by Ford and Volkswagen, though there are other strong rivals which have their own plus-points – such as the Toyota Yaris.
Yaris has two major advantages over its class rivals– it scores higher than most for reliability and is also available as a petrol-electric full hybrid, unique in the small car sector.
Prices start at €14,833 (£12,995) for well-equipped entry models and there are eight different trim levels. At the top of the range is the Yaris GRS, a distinctive hi-spec hybrid which comes with features such as sports seats and sports steering wheel, black styling accents, larger alloy wheels and stiffer suspension.
Powered by a 98 hp 1.5 litre four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor and mated to slick CVT auto transmission, the GRS has an attractive cachet. Its smooth acceleration gives a 0-100 kph time of 11.8 seconds and top speed of 166 kph (103 mph). Average fuel economy is 19.8 kpl (56 mpg) and its emission figure is low at just 89 g/km.
Neat and nimble to handle, in city traffic it can be driven on electric power only. Light steering makes parking an easy process and on the open road at higher speeds it is very planted on the corners. The firmer suspension on this version is still comfortable on smooth surfaces though it will jolt on potholes.
Standard kit on the GRS is extensive and includes air-conditioning, cruise control, rear spoiler, multi-media touch-screen, rear-view camera, front parking sensors and safety features including pre-collision system, lane-departure alert and tyre pressure warning. This version costs €22,641 (£19, 835).
The cabin offers good accommodation for four adults and the 286 litre boot is larger than on the previous Yaris model and can expand to 768 litres by folding the rear seats, though the load floor is not flat. The dashboard is laid out in simple straight-forward form with well-placed dials and switches for maximum ease of use.
Yaris is a smart, practical hatchback with nice driving dynamics and while the GRS version is aimed at a niche sector who perhaps prefer a more sporty image, there are enough other models in the range to please almost everyone.
Model: Toyota Yaris GRS Hybrid
Engine: 1.5 litre petrol with electic motor
Transmission: Electric CVT Auto
Performance: 0-100 kph 11.8 seconds, top speed 166 kph (103 mph)
Economy: 19.8 kpl (56 mpg)
Emissions: 89 g/km