Saturday, September 30, 2023

REVIEW: The Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport Hybrid – Is This Our DREAM Car?

Kelly Bertrand test drives Toyota’s chicest hybrid – the Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport Hybrid – and falls in love.

(For transparency – While we have an ongoing partnership with Toyota, this review is completely editorial and our opinions stated here are very much our own!)

I’ve always wanted to drive a hybrid. It seems like the Hannah Montana of cars, you know – Best of Both Worlds vibes through and through, and with every trip to the petrol station hurting more and more I am ALL in for using less fuel.

So I was jazzed when I got to test out the Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport (ooh, sport) to really give a hybrid a thorough working out and really see how much impact it has on fuel consumption – but also, the ‘fun stuff’ that goes with buying a new car.

The Yaris Cross GR Sport Hybrid is an interesting size – bigger than a normal car, smaller than your stock-standard SUV, which I, who has only ever owned tiny hatchbacks, absolutely loved because the size upgrade is easy to manage (parallel parking, am I right) and it feels absolutely lovely to drive. It’s higher off the ground and handles like a dream – super zippy off the line (0-100km/h in 11.4 seconds) and gives a really smooth drive.

I really enjoy the familiarity and intuitiveness of a Toyota. No matter if you’re driving your mum’s old Camry or something new and at the pointy end of the price range, it feels like a Toyota. Reliable. Safe. Happy. But this one also has a touch of luxe too.

The outside: Let’s look at the exterior – oosh, this is one sexy looking car. The contrast between the black and white is chic – I can’t explain it but I just felt like I had my shit together far more than I actually do – and the profile is sleek.

It’s the perfect size in the perfect proportion with 18-inch wheels and a cute ‘lil mesh grille. It’s Toyota’s GR – Gazoo Racing -model, so it’s spirit lies firmly on the racetrack and there are moments when I’m driving it where I can feel it wanting to be let loose (don’t worry Toyota I was VERY responsible – although if I’m honest I’m shook Toyota let me borrow cars after I won ‘best drift’ at a racing event earlier this year. Apparently I had people worried about my, er, assertive cornering). Indeed, the Yaris Cross GR Sport reminds me of Sporty Spice – the best out of the bunch, athletic and fun. Oooh, should her name be Mel C?!

The inside: This is the perfect car if you’re looking to upsize – perhaps you have a new addition coming, or you simply want a bigger, safer car to zoom around in. The boot is roomy – it has a removable floor if you need more space – and its higher profile means you’re not going to be bending over to sort our car seats/ luggage.

The Bluetooth is easy to connect to and the in-car entertainment system is super-simple. Also, the safety cameras are MIND-BOGGLING – somehow there’s a birds-eye camera (?!) that shows you exactly what’s around your car when you’re reversing. Obsessed.

In the front seat, everything is where it should be – steering wheel controls, USB and USB-C ports and even heads up display – the fancy spedo projection that pops up on the windshield so you have absolutely no excuse to not know how fast you’re going.

The backseat isn’t the roomiest – four passages will be comfy as, but five will be a bit of a squish. A car seat does fit though – we specifically tested that!

The fuel: I’ll put it simply. I had this car for a week and drove from East Auckland to West Auckland twice, around town every day and also one CBD-Airport return trip. The fuel gauge barely moved. In fact I returned it to Toyota almost full (sorry guys I probably should have topped it up the $10 I used!). Hybrids WORK man – and the Yaris’ fuel economy is bloody brilliant.

Hybrids are the perfect place to start your cleaner car journey – they don’t require plugging in like an electric car, rather the engine powers the battery as you drive, and the car automatically switches between modes depending on your speed and driving conditions – meaning the car does all the heavy lifting so you don’t have to think about it.

The overall ride: Hand on heart, I’m in love with this car. It has everything I need and nothing I don’t, and while other people might want more bells and whistles like heated seats (God I hate those, it feels like you’re peeing yourself and look I don’t need that in my pre-having-kids era thank you) the Yaris Cross GR Sport is perfect for me.

I felt confident and sexy and cool driving it, but I also know if I need to pick up any of my friends’ kids or go on aunty duty, it’s a safe, robust car that’ll meet all of those responsible adult needs.

But more than anything, it’s fun to drive. We spend so much time in the car, especially if you live in Auckland (or Tauranga, apparently!?) and I’m all for injecting as much joy as possible into your everyday life. This bad boy definitely helps that.

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