Ray Leathern thinks the Yaris HSD is something of a Goldilocks car for Toyota when it comes to hybrids. The Prius was a little too far one way and the Auris HSD went a little too far to the other. The Yaris HSD is therefore just right.
First of all, what makes the Toyota Yaris HSD unique is that it is the first full hybrid B-segment car in South Africa, or indeed anywhere else in the world. Secondly, I’m happy to see Toyota’s ‘Hybrid Synergy Drive’ (HSD) has finally made it out of the much maligned Prius and into something a little more likeable like the new Yaris. Hearing the concept of a Yaris running on Prius internals sounded just about perfect a year ago when it was first announced.
The Yaris HSD acts as Toyota’s flagship for the rest of the Yaris range and now offers customers a choice of two fully independent powertrain types – petrol and full hybrid (rather than diesel). Toyota themselves see it as a major milestone in the company’s full hybrid roll-out strategy. How quickly times have changed. Remember when we used to have powerful, sporting models as range topping models?
The Yaris HSD is built in France at Toyota’s second dedicated hybrid facility. The plant produces 1 000 cars a day, or one every 68 seconds, and 25% of those are hybrids. By 2013 Toyota will be able to offer five full hybrid models throughout the world: the Yaris HSD; the Auris HSD; the Prius; the Prius+ and the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, which made news by being the Prince of Monaco’s favourite city run-around.
When it comes to this specific Yaris range topper, the HSD differentiates itself from a regular Yaris with more aerodynamically efficient exterior bodywork, that combines a new, more aggressive, front design that is reinforced with hybrid-specific, LED, day-time running lights. It looks good to my eye, but it’s not only cosmetic, the lower bumper houses a larger, trapezoidal grille for optimising engine bay cooling. The exterior length is 20 mm longer than the standard Yaris, to give it extra presence and the HSD gets exclusive 15- and 16-inch wheel designs. At the rear the HSD gets a LED-type high mounted brake light and LED signature tail lamps, while hybrid-blue Toyota badges, front and back, round off the unique styling.
We are quite fond of the new Toyota Yaris’ interior and the HSD makes it even better, with exclusive Ice Grey trim and blue detailed stitching. A white and blue backlit hybrid system indicator and centre console ‘Toyota Touch’ system incorporates a hybrid energy monitor. Much like the blue badging, a blue gear lever can be found to remind the driver he is indeed in a hybrid, just in case he forgets.
The new powertrain has been optimised for the Yaris’ compact design, without causing detriment to the passenger accommodation and load-space. Both the fuel tank and battery are installed under the rear seat. As a result, the Toyota Yaris Hybrid maintains identical occupant space and the same 286-litre luggage capacity as that of the standard model.
The hybrid system is downsized from that of the Prius to a re-engineered 1.5-litre petrol engine with a lighter, more compact, electric motor, transaxle, inverter and battery pack. The total system weight is 201 kg, 20% (42 kg) less than that of the Auris Hybrid.
The DOHC, Atkinson Cycle petrol engine with VVT-i is based on the engine block of the second generation Prius and it delivers a claimed average fuel consumption of just 3.8 L/100 km and CO2 emissions of only 88 g/km. Toyota say a high proportion of journey time can be undertaken with the engine not running at all, creating a uniquely quiet driving style that makes it the ultimate urban run around. The theoretical range on a tank of fuel is over 1 000 km.
Maximum power from the petrol engine is 55 kW at 4 800 r/min and maximum torque is 111 Nm between 3 600 – 4 400 r/min. The electric motor generates a maximum of 45 kW of power and 169 Nm of torque during acceleration. Combined power is 74 kW and the Yaris HSD will get to 50 km/h in 4 seconds and 100 km/h in 11.3 seconds before topping out at 165 km/h. 70% of all engine components are either new or totally redesigned and the use of highly efficient, 12-hole atomising fuel injectors, further reduces fuel consumption and emissions.
Toyota has also gone to some lengths to downsize the housing for the electric motor, generator and power-split transaxle. They say it is effectively no bigger than a conventional gearbox and is the most compact hybrid transmission yet engineered by Toyota. The reduction in battery size and weight means battery charging efficiency has been improved by 60% compared to the Auris HSD.
Despite all these other worldly measures taken to make the Yaris HSD as eco-friendly as possible, Toyota’s engineers have not forgotten about driving feel. They undertook exhaustive testing to ensure the new HSD has dynamic abilities in various driving scenarios. Making a car that is ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘sporty’ often uses similar philosophies. The HSD boasts a class-leading drag coefficient of Cd 0.286. That comes from ensuring a lowered centre of gravity and aero friendly body parts. This in turn improves the drive quality.
Not that we were really able to test the sporting intent of the Yaris HSD. Toyota quite rightly arranged an economy run for us on the day, and well, I don’t normally worry about that sort of thing, but when it became a contest with a prize, I just had to compete my little heart out. Over a 140 km route from Pretoria University to Hartebeespoort we managed to consume just 2.43 L/100km. Incredible right?! I couldn’t believe it either. This was verified by the very man who organises the Total Economy Run. Amazingly, that wasn’t even enough to win the competition that day. Our vehicle lost out by 0.01 L/100km to the eventual winners. Bizarrely however, the trip computer average said I had only achieved 4.2 L/100km. Perhaps my resetting skills need some work.
Within an economy run context the Yaris HSD is a sublime car and I look forward to having it on road test to explore its other aspects, such as the handling and power. For the economy minded motorist it even provides a good value proposition. At R223 800 for the XS spec, it trumps the Honda Jazz Hybrid by some R30 000. At R245 900 for the XR spec with seven airbags, leather seats, fog lights and cruise control, you might even think to yourself, “why am I paying R370 000 for a Prius again?”
|Price (incl. VAT and C02 tax)|
|Toyota Yaris HSD XS||R223 800|
|Toyota Yaris HSD XR||R245 900|
Prices include a 3-year/100 000km warranty and 8-year/195 000km battery warranty.