Toyota is slowly staring to implement its hybrid Synergy Drive to all its models, the latest being Yaris. The new Yaris Hybrid has made its debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show and it’s the first commercially available B-segment hybrid.

As the Yaris is significantly smaller than the Prius and Auris, Toyota had to make its Hybrid Synergy Drive slightly smaller. After a few tweaks Toyota managed to squeeze its Synergy Drive system under the skin of the compact Yaris and the end result is a 1.5 liter gasoline engine combined with a compact electric motor and a smaller battery pack.

The two units crank out a combined power of 100 hp and the entire system is 20 percent lighter than the standard 1.8 liter hybrid drive train found at the other hybrids offered by the company.

Hit the jump for more information on the Toyota Yaris Hybrid Synergy Drive.

  • 2012 Toyota Yaris Hybrid
  • Year:
    2012
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    73 @ 4800
  • Torque @ RPM:
    82 @ 3600
  • Top Speed:
    104 mph
  • 0-100 time:
    11.8 sec.
  • Price:
    19500
  • car segment:
  • car fuel:
  • body style:

Design

2012 Toyota Yaris Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
- image 476811

Compared to the standard Yaris, the Hybrid keeps the same 2,510 mm wheelbase length, but it’s 20 mm longer, with a total length of 3,905 mm. The extra length was necessary to accommodate the hybrid powertrain, but didn’t affect the vehicle’s turning circle which continues to be rated at 4.7 m.

The entire sheetmetal has been slightly tweaked compared to the previous generation Yaris and the most significant changes were made up front. Here, the 2012 Yaris Hybrid received the latest iteration of Toyota’s design language which is underlined by the new grille, the expressive LED headlights and the huge trapezoidal air intake mounted into the bumper.

The new skin is also improving the vehicle’s aerodynamics which is directly translated into improved fuel efficiency. As a result, the Yaris Hybrid is more slippery, as the air flows easier over the new front and through the innovative underbody covers and wheel spats, mounted beneath the vehicle. All these tweaks brought the Yaris Hybrid’s drag coefficient down to only 0.286.

Interior

2012 Toyota Yaris Hybrid High Resolution Interior
- image 476828

Even is the latest generation Yaris was designed from the start to be able to accommodated a big battery pack, we’ll still have to appreciate Toyota’s packaging talent, as we continue to wonder how this tiny hybrid car comes with such a roomy cabin.

Those extra 20 mm added up front could be the first part of the answer. The second one is that both the fuel tank and battery are installed under the rear seat which helps the Yaris Hybrid maintain the same amount of space and luggage capacity (286 litre) as that of the standard model.

We also have to send a shout at the refined materials and the numerous soft-touch pads that surround the front seats, giving the entire cab an upscale look.

Though we find the grey color scheme a bit to monotone for our tastes and we also expected to find a more futuristic instrument cluster. Naturally, the instruments were modified to accommodate new stats about the hybrid drive train, so the revcounter was replaced with a backlit battery dial that shuffles between Charge, Eco and Power. Other differences over the conventional model are the two buttons mounted next to the handbrake, which permit you to select Eco and EV modes.

Above the gear knob, you’ll find Toyota’s touch system which incorporates a Hybrid Energy Monitor that it’s fairly easy to understand and use.

The base model comes with dual-zone climate control and seven airbags, but you’ll have to spend extra money to get the T4-trim, which includes essential features such as Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and a DAB radio.

In the end, we like the interior environment offered by the new Yaris Hybrid, as it’s practical, spacious and comfortable. Though some of the competitors have raised the bar when it comes to interior design and unfortunately Toyota’s cockpit remained a half step behind.

Engines and performance

2012 Toyota Yaris Hybrid Exterior Drivetrain
- image 476837

The downsized hybrid system combines a new 1.5 litre petrol engine with a more compact electric motor, transaxle, inverter and a battery pack. Toyota says that the total system weights 20 % (43 kg) less than that of the Auris Hybrid.

The power developed by the electric motor and the engine is balanced by means of a fully automatic transmission on a continuously variable basis. The vehicle can run only on electric energy 1.2 miles, but if you pass the 31 mph speed, the petrol unit kicks in automatically.

The combined output of the electric motor and the petrol engine is rated at 100 hp. As you’ve probably guessed, this won’t give any significant thrills as the top speed is rated at merely 103 mph while the sprint from zero to 62 mph is made in 11.3 seconds. However, the car wasn’t designed for drag races, as its main goal is efficiency. Fortunately it does its job great and rewards you with an impressive fuel consumption rating of just 3.5 liters per 100 kilometers (67 mpg).

On road, the car delivers pretty refined performances and in full EV mode the car is absolutely silent. The hybrid gets the same soft suspensions found at the standard Yaris, so you won’t have to worry about ride quality. The handling was especially tuned for city driving as well, and it feels light and accurate. Though, it’s not as engaging as the one from the Ford Fiesta and won’t give you the same amount of feedback either.

It’s also worth to be mentioned that around the city, the car corners well, but on the open road, the body roll feels pretty pronounced.

Verdict

2012 Toyota Yaris Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
- image 476821

At the moment, the Toyota Yaris Hybrid has no direct competitors, which puts it by default in front of the pack. Though, the car is a very nice piece of Japanese engineering, as its compact hybrid drive train works as good as the one from its bigger siblings.

Fortunately the interior comfort wasn’t affected by the hybrid components and the Yaris continues to be one of the most spacious vehicles in its class. However, we would’ve liked to see a more modern looking cockpit, as most of the rivals are already offering futuristic interiors, so Toyota should concentrate on recovering the lost terrain.

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