What could be better than two Japanese giants going head to head in a car battle.

Last week we looked at the Honda Jazz Crosstar and now it’s the new Toyota Yaris Cross, both late comers to the compact crossover league, make that very late, but both highly regarded superminis.

Don’t like starting with a moan but I have to get this off my chest. My second trip in Yaris Cross was at night and needed light in the back of the car. I fumbled around but found no switch, needless to say there is no light and with a black roof lining it is a black place to be so for goodness sake Toyota let’s have some light! After all this is a car costing £26k.

Hope they get the message, now back to the business in hand.

As the name suggests the Cross is a pumped up Yaris, 90mm taller, 20mm wider and 240mm longer. That extra length, all but 10 inches to us old ‘uns, is music to the ears of owners who think the Yaris is a tad small, which it is against most rivals.

Interestingly Honda did not feel the need to increase the length of Crosstar because Jazz is already a masterpiece of packaging and the roomiest supermini on the market.

So Yaris Cross is a whole new ball game. Forget about handling and performance, although I will mention it later, space is the number one priority in a small car.

For instance, a Toyota C-HR driver is unlikely to downsize to a Yaris but the Cross would fit the bill.

The higher seating position serves two purposes, it’s easier to get in and out, and the driver has a commanding view. If this suggests the Cross is an old persons car think again. Turn the clock back 40 years and I would have been happy to show this off to my mates.

Toyota got rid of its boring tag with the cracking looking C-HR and Yaris Cross shares some of those sharp design cues, just the sort of shape to attract younger eyes, and particularly a young family.

For the driver the dashboard is pretty much a copy of the Yaris with a conventional speedo and information box which is interchangeable by toggling a switch on the steering wheel.

Lots of information options but I couldn’t find a digital speedometer so something else that needs to be addressed.

Otherwise the layout will please most owners, a central nine inch touchscreen for radio, Bluetooth and smart phone connections but separate, easy to use switches for the heating.

Turning Yaris into a compact SUV has done wonders for the cabin making it a viable family car. The big winner is boot space which has grown to almost 400 litres, bigger than the Jazz Crosstar although the Honda still beats the Cross on rear legroom.

No one does hybrid better than Toyota so expect super efficiency from the Cross. It picks and chooses when to run on electric and that can be anything up to 82mph.

The three-cylinder engine is reasonably perky but comes into its own on economy returning an easy 60mpg over a week’s mixed driving. There is also a four wheel drive option.

The improvement to the Yaris’s handling has filtered down to the Cross which is a sharper

drive than its Honda rival.

Yaris is the reigning European Car of the Year and could easily go for the double with Cross for the 2022 title. I like the driving position which is a bit higher than the Honda and is a more rewarding drive than Crosstar. But what does the wife think?

Jean says: “This is a tight call and I would be happy with Cross or Crosstar but my vote is going to the Honda because I preferred the driver’s display with its big digital speedo and I found the tailgate difficult to open on the Toyota. I didn’t notice any difference in the handling, that’s just a bloke thing!

Fast facts

Yaris Cross Dynamic

£26,465 (starts £22,515)

1.5 litre petrol + electric motor 114bhp

0-62mph 11.2secs; 106mph

64.2mpg combined

117g/km. 1st road tax £170

Insurance group 12

Boot 397-1097 litres