On the road: The New Toyota Yaris Cross
On the road: The New Toyota Yaris Cross

Ian Lamming makes a new travelling companion in the Toyota Yaris Cross

YOU will not believe this, and I’m not sure I do either, but it is true.

For four days I posed and preened my way through life in a £200,000 super car; it isn’t easy but it has to be done.

And here’s the incredulous bit; I actually prefer Toyota’s brand new Yaris SUV, the Cross. I know, bonkers eh? But it’s true and this is why.

In a 200mph super car you can never relax. It is stressful. You spend an age driving round trying to find somewhere safe to leave it, where no-one will hit it with a supermarket trolley, or their car door, a place safe from car-jackers.

Super cars tend to be low, long and very wide with heavy throttles and steering and rock hard suspension. They are also loud and in your face and come with performance that can bite you in the bump.

Are they great? Of course. Are they easy to drive? No, they are a bit stressful and exhausting because you have to be on your game every second of the day.

So when I eventually climb back in Toyota’s Yaris Cross for the long and tedious drive home I am swept with a sense of immense relief – ahhhh. Thank you Toyota.

Cross is Toyota’s first small SUV and is based on the equally excellent Yaris hatchback. It proves to be the perfect chariot for the heinous drive back north on roads that could only be described as a car park.

M25? What is that all about? It’s a hamsters wheel to hell, not that you ever reach there because the traffic never seems to move. M40? Normally not too bad but there has been a bump and it’s no better than the Orbital. Pitstop at Bicester Village? Pointless, there’s nowhere left to park. Then the M6. OMG do not get me started on the M6; shunts galore, hideous roadworks and a variety of urban sprawl rush hours to navigate. Eugh.

At one point, the easy to use satnav is showing 185 miles to home and we are travelling at the grand speed of 3mph…oh no we aren’t, we are actually stationary – great.

But as bad as this is, life is ok thanks to this stupendous SUV. The lanky teenager is comfy enough in the back alternating between DVDs on his portable player and his phone, so he is oblivious and happy. His mother, who always has plenty of work to do, is tapping out a staccato on her laptop and I’m listening to the radio while the car takes the strain.

We are all very comfortable indeed, the seats are extremely supportive for the eight hour journey home. The ambient temperature is perfect, as are the light levels thanks to swathes of glass. We are sitting high up so I can neb into other stricken motorists’ cars as we all wait for the jam to clear. Waiting also gives me time to take in the minimalist yet functional interior and fiddle with the trip computer, currently showing 63 miles to the gallon, which warms the cockles of my wallet.

Yaris Cross is auto only, CVT to be precise, hooked up to a very efficient 1.5 litre three cylinder hybrid. It is difficult to tell when it is running on petrol and/or electric because the handover is so seamless. In towns it tends to run on EV and when they both run together performance is excellent.

When we are moving it is happy to float along at the legal maximums and the ride and handling are great. If you are on open country roads or in town it is nimble and fun to drive with great levels of body control and grip – there’s even an all-wheel-drive version if you need more.

The trip away has required luggage and it all fits neatly into a boot that is deep and accommodating. We seldom travel light so it is impressive.

I also love the look of the Cross which is smart and contemporary with simple yet effective lines and great lights fore and aft.

Yaris is proving to be a fabulous cluster of models. GR is possibly one of my most favourite cars ever, crazily brilliant, especially for the money, and normal Yaris Hybrid impressed me so much I recommended them to friends who actually bought one. Cross makes the perfect triumvirate, a diminutive SUV so capable I genuinely prefer it to a super car. True story!

Fact file

Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid

Engine: 1.5 litre three cylinder petrol plus electric

Power: 116hp

0-62mph: 11.2 secs

Top speed: 105mph

Transmission: CVT

Combined MPG: 63.6

CO2: 112g/km

Price: From £22,515.00