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Toyota’s new Yaris Cross didn’t impress at first but it definitely grew on me

The new model sits somewhere in between the CH-R and the Rav4 and will sell really well for the Japanese company

The interior is well equipped and comfortable

Daragh KeanySunday World

Are Toyota taking a leaf out of Mercedes’ book? Are they attempting to build something for everyone? It certainly seems that way when you consider this latest model added to their range.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury…this is the Yaris Cross. Not to be mistaken with its namesake the regular Yaris nor a few other models in the Toyota range like the CH-R or even the Rav 4.

Okay, so the latest Rav4 is humungous compared to this but the styling and chunkiness definitely tips the cap to the very popular SUV.

As I have said many many times before in this column…expectation is a bad thing in the motor review trade. But on this occasion it has flipped my previous experiences on its head and expectation resulted in me not really enjoying this car at the start but the more I drove it the more I enjoyed and it made sense.

I love the current Yaris and the latest Rav4 but I don’t get car companies when they just lob out an ‘in-between’ car for the sake of it.

But this 1.5 litre three-cylinder petrol hybrid engine (in an automatic five-door design) grew on me as the week went on and is certainly a car that should be considered in the super-competitive B-SUV segment.

And with an asking price starting at €29,700 it is definitely an attractive prospect.

But what do you get for your money? For starters you get a clever and great looking car. No one can deny that. Although the ‘wannabe cool’ element to me would certainly opt for a better colour than the silver that my press car came in.

It is rugged looking thanks to the black plastic wheel arches which trick the eyes into thinking it is sitting higher than it really is. It sits 30mm higher than then Yaris, but it definitely feels higher.

Even though it has the same wheelbase as the Yaris hatch it is an amazing 240mm longer thanks to the (predominantly) front end bodywork. The design revolution at Toyota is continuing to progress quickly thankfully and none of their current line up can be described as ‘bland’.

Although I’d question the need for the black side step which stretches along the entire side of the car. It doesn’t look bad but it is usually reserved for cars that sit higher and require a help to get into the cabin.

The interior is well equipped and comfortable

Speaking about the cabin it is nicely spacious with no bother for four adults. A fifth may struggle but four adults is no bother and even three kids across the back was seamless on my 2km-school runs each morning.

Driving position (which a lot of people don’t think about) is really good and everything that you need access to is within easy reach of the driver.

The engine has 114hp and 120Nm of torque and is delivered through its automatic gearbox. They claim a top speed is 170km/h and the 0-100km/h takes 11.2 seconds which all sounds spiffing if that’s what you are into, but the reality of real-time driving is far less exciting.

It’s fine, don’t get me wrong but it does just go through the motions of getting you from A to B without offering any great spikes in excitement or fun.

The full HEV is powered through the aforementioned automatic gearbox and growls (not in a Mustang way) if you even dare to attempt any sort of acceleration. Normal every day driving however is fine and pretty efficient.

Most Toyota customers (and there are many of them) won’t worry about that growl. It hasn’t affected sales one bit in recent years and won’t start now.

Being a Toyota will automatically ensure that this car does well. The loyal fan base is strong here and the claustrophobic market here should be worried.

I am in a rare place that I have driven them all. I know all too well that most customers don’t actually drive competitive cars in a segment. The Yaris Cross sits nicely and comfortably in the middle in my opinion.

I could list at least a dozen or so cars that would be direct rivals to it and while some of them are not worthy for consideration others are light years ahead.

There are various things you have to compromise on here when considering a new car. Some of my favourite cars in the market cost a bit more. While others have a lower quality finish with a more attractive asking price.

The Yaris Cross sits in the middle. It doesn’t win any of the criteria, but it ticks every box. I was disappointed at first when I got in as its look promised me more excitement. But I soon began to realise why it is selling so well. And now having had a week in it I would honestly find it hard to find a real reason why you shouldn’t buy it.

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