You’ve got to hand it to Toyota, its vast size rarely seeming to create much in the way of inertia. If anything, the firm moves at a faster corporate speed than many seemingly nimble rivals. And the fact that Nissan was for years a bigger brand in the European region. Toyota didn’t like that reality one bit and so, reinvention happened.

Becoming bigger in B-models

After the Auris name was ditched, a new generation of the Corolla with the all-important shift to stand-out looks instead of the previous vanilla transformed the brand in the European C segment. The appeal of that name will be further exploited with the Corolla Cross (from autumn ’22) and below it, now, the Yaris Cross, an in-demand B segment crossover.

You can make a case for calling this 4,180 mm long five-door crossover an SUV, even if it doesn’t look like one. That’s because unlike so many others in the same class, the Yaris Cross can be had with all-wheel drive.

All-wheel drive option

Electric drive to the back axle pushes up the CO2 average, although not by much. The base Icon model grade front-wheel drive cars emit 100 g/km, while for the two AWD versions – the luxury-spec Dynamic or Premiere Edition – that rises to 115. Both of those can also be ordered with front-drive only, and CO2 is 113 g/km. So aside from higher pricing, you’re hardly penalised for choosing extra grip.

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No Yaris Cross is anywhere near bargain basement levels, neither Toyota Motor Europe (TME) nor Toyota Great Britain (TGB) having any interest in chasing volume over margins. While Yaris pricing starts at GBP20,210, the Cross line-up begins at GBP22,515 (and reaches GBP30,545).

The view from up front…

It’s a roomy little car and from the either of the front seats, spaciousness is the strongest impression.

There’s the expected big screen positioned in the middle-top of the dashboard but Toyota has chosen to keep HVAC functionality happening via actual buttons. That gives the Yaris Cross a handy safety advantage over many of the class’ established alternatives.

Oher niceties include a chunky small-diameter steering wheel, large and clear gauges, lots of places to stow personal belongings, easily controlled light functions via a left-hand stalk and a fair quota of soft fabrics and plastics. There is a lot of grey though, and not everybody likes polished faux-ebony (‘piano black’ some call it) trim due its tendency to show finger marks.

…and in the back

In the back, you immediately notice things are far cosier and yet it’s far from a feeling of confinement. The view out is better than in the larger Toyota C-HR too, with generous glazing a good touch.

The boot offers an impressive 397 litres and that extends to 1,097 with the seat-backs down. In the entry level trim, the split is 60:40 but Toyota makes the 40:20:40 alternative standard for all other grades.


Power comes from M15A-FXE, a 1,490 cc three-cylinder engine which produces 68 kW and 120 Nm. The hybrid system’s motor add 59 kW and 141 Nm. Curiously, only one number for their combined efforts is quoted, that being 85 kW (116 PS).


Whatever it is, torque is good although there’s not anything like an excess for the front tyres to be overburdened with. Steering is typical Toyota which these days means nice and accurate, a small number of turns lock to lock and getting closer to the Ford Puma’s gold standard.

The smooth delivery to the front axle is via an electronically-controlled CVT and cars which have AWD have their motor positioned over the rear axle. Performance suffers a little as 0-62 mph times of 11.2 (FWD) and 11.8 show. Top speeds are identical, at 106 mph. Economy is an excellent 54.6-64.2 Combined across the range. Driving mainly on motorways and A-roads the car I borrowed from TGB returned 57 mpg.


Although TME had said that this would be a model for Europe, it turned out that this would be a secondary region, with the vehicle going on sale in Japan and certain other markets in Asia-Pac first.

Sales in Toyota’s home market commenced at the end of August 2020 with cars for EU and EFTA markets, along with the UK taking until the third quarter of this year.

The lead plant is Toyota Motor East Japan’s Iwate with build at Onnaing near Valenciennes in northern France added around six months ago. Both Yaris and Yaris Cross are made on the same line, these models sharing a platform, powertrains, a wheelbase dimension and much else besides.


Before the worst of the microchip shortage crisis hit, TME had said it would like to be selling 150,000 a year of the Yaris Cross on average over the vehicle’s production life. The car is certainly an accomplished model and deserves the success it’s already attaining.