Perseverance with hybrid systems has paid off for Toyota. The firm has years of development behind it, and its electrified products are showing a rich vein of form, which is why the all-new Toyota Yaris is our favourite affordable hybrid car for 2020.
Based on an all-new platform closely related to the Corolla Hybrid – a car that picked up the gong in this category last year – the Yaris is agile and fun to drive, while practicality is fundamentally sound for a supermini, with an acceptable 286 litres of boot space.
Hybrids needs to be efficient, and with economy as high as 68.9mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 92g/km, the Yaris fills the brief. It’s also surprisingly quick, with a combined 114bhp from its 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and twin motors supplied by a small battery.
That means electric-only running is more limited than in a plug-in, but with eager assistance from the electric motors, and thanks to the CVT automatic gearbox, the Yaris is nippy in town and fairly fun to drive. Toyota has clearly got a handle on its transmissions too, because for a small car the Yaris offers good refinement and comfort from the updated chassis.
However, as we’ve mentioned, efficiency is key to any hybrid, and balancing the cost to buy (which is even more affordable on finance) with the cost to run, the Yaris is a very appealing efficient small car.
With an eye on budget we’d go for Design trim. It features equipment such as an eight-inch colour touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – that’s a benefit because the brand’s own infotainment systems still leave a little to be desired – as well as climate control, full LED headlights, a reversing camera and Toyota’s Safety Sense 2 pack.
This includes autonomous braking with collision warning, pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-assist, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beam. Given lots of bumps happen around town, where the Yaris will spend plenty of time, it offers strong safety too, crowning a great, affordable hybrid package.
Toyota Yaris 1.5 VVT-i Hybrid Design (£20,970)
As we’ve already mentioned, the list of features on mid-spec Design trim means this Yaris offers a great balance between equipment and cost. In addition, it features 16-inch alloy wheels, so CO2 emissions are lower as well. The Yaris drives sweetly, too; it shows that efficient hybrids can still be fun and packed with personality.
Along with the Yaris, the latest Jazz demonstrates how far small hybrid cars have come. The Honda offers even more practicality than the Toyota, albeit at the expense of style perhaps, with its clever flip-up Magic Seats in the rear. It also features the brand’s new infotainment system, which is a big improvement.
Skoda Superb iV
Available as a spacious hatchback and even roomier estate, the plug-in Superb iV has further improved the appeal of Skoda’s largest family car. The powertrain is punchy, smooth and refined – but importantly, it delivers on the numbers as any affordable hybrid has to, with high economy and low running costs.