THE fourth generation of Toyota's Yaris sees the likeable supermini get a whole new package of improvements from top to bottom.

Significantly, it now rides on what is the first application of the new GA-B platform, which the company says allows for better compactness, practicality, driving enjoyment and safety. It will be used on all future small Toyota cars.

And the new hybrid system that comes with it delivers delivers 14bhp, fuel economy from just under 70 miles to the gallon.

With CO2 emissions from 92g/km and a reputation of being the world's safest compact car, it is certainly grabbing headlines for all the right reasons.

Primarily a city car, the Yaris is an agile mover. That's down to this new platform, which gives a lower centre of gravity and much greater body rigidity. In fact it might be a little too rigid for some tastes if you opt for the sportier versions.

If there is one area of motoring where Toyota has consistently led the way it is with its hybrid electric powertrains, and this new one not only helps the Yaris achieve better fuel economy but also lowers the CO2 emissions and enables the car to operate on its electric power alone at higher speeds and over longer distances.

The Yaris is now available only with the new three-cylinder1.5-litre hybrid powertrain, which is linked to electric CVT transmission.

Toyota would say you get the best of both worlds: zero emission motoring for significant amounts of time and no concerns about recharging or range. In fact the electric vehicle mode can operate at speeds of up to 80mph and operates for longer than in previous versions.

But CVT transmission is not to everyone's taste. It gives the Yaris a perfect pairing on city streets, but the engine gets a little noisy when pushed hard.

Ride comfort is satisfactory, but with the 17-inch alloys and sports suspension of the Dynamic model there's tendency for the over-firmness on poor surfaces.

There's a whole host of safety equipment too that will help avoid collisions through steering and braking inputs.

Measuring 5mm shorter and 40mm lower than the previous model but with a longer wheelbase and greater width to increase cabin space, the Yaris comes with a lower driving position and cockpit designed around the concept of "eyes on the road, hands on the wheel".

Now it is the most compact car in its class, with an athletic stance thanks to the muscular front and rear wings normally seen on faster cars.

Driver distraction is also minimised with a "binocular" arrangement of the meters and TFT multi-information display in the instrument binnacle on Design grade and above.

The car's stability inspires confidence, while its response to the driver's inputs is natural and precise, communicating a heightened sense of agility. The combination of the car's compact, low and wide dimensions, the quality of the GA-B platform and the performance of the fourth-generation hybrid powertrain gives the car a fun-to-drive quality that strengthens its emotional appeal.

There are four trim levels Icon, Design, Dynamic and Excel, plus a high-spec Launch Edition model. Standard features include Toyota Safety Sense, automatic headlights and wipers, electronic parking brake and smartphone integration,16-inch alloy wheels, Toyota Touch 2 seven-inch multimedia display, a reversing camera, automatic air conditioning and power-adjustable, heated door mirrors. A bigger touchscreen, better audio, bigger wheels and more safety features are available in higher-grade models.

Toyota should be applauded for once again pushing the boundaries of the hybrid powertrain. This is undoubtedly the best one yet and will ensure its crown remains in place.


Toyota Yaris Hybrid Dynamic

Price: £21,920

Engine: Three-cylinder 1.5-litre hybrid producing 114bhp

Transmission: Electric CVT automatic

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 9.7 seconds; top speed 109mph

Economy: 65.6mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 98g/km


Performance: ***

Economy: *****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: *****

Value For Money: ****