I’m in a Steve sounds off mood. Nothing too serious, but need to get it off my chest.
It concerns something as simple as a speedometer. Today’s cars are generally well equipped to give warnings about speed limits so why was I so anxious about stepping over the mark in the Yaris Cross?
The display is standard numbers but set out in European style 20mph increments, so just a mark for 30mph. Then there is the computer generated speedo pointer which is too thick for complete accuracy.
Yaris has traffic sign recognition so lights up the speed limit in a small circle but is positioned just below the 40mph mark which could be tricky in a 30 limit because your eye is drawn to it. Now all this would not matter if there was a digital speed readout as well. Most cars have one and I am pretty certain Toyota has it on the similar dial in the Corolla.
There, I’ve said my piece, now let’s get down to the real business and the Yaris brand which is growing and growing. Cross is the five-door mini SUV model, taller and longer than the hatchback by 240mm (nearly 10 inches if you prefer) and has been joined by the GR Sport, but not to be confused with the Yaris GR which is the hottest hatchback on the planet bar none.
It is a bit of a show car with a redesigned sporty looking grille, 18in machine finished 10 spoke alloys, rear diffuser, sports seats with GR logos and drilled aluminium pedals. GR stands for Gazoo Racing, the performance arm of Toyota, and they have lowered and tweaked he suspension so slightly sharper handling, but a firmer less comfortable ride than standard Yaris Cross.
As with all Toyotas you get an efficient hybrid supported engine, in this case the three-cylinder 1.5 litre petrol. Although it carries the GR badge it does not gain any extra horse power so performance is nothing special but the sportier ride can give a misguided notion that you are zipping along.
The engine is all about efficiency and there can be no argument there. It drops in and out of electric mode and in town driving will manage a mile or so on pure electric power. Official fuel consumption is in the high fifties but I had no trouble bettering that and never dropped below 62mpg in a week’s driving.
This is one engine fits all while rivals like Ford Puma, Volkswagen T-Cross and Skoda Kamiq, offer a choice. Some would say that is a drawback but I don’t think a car of this nature needs more than one engine size.
At 4180mm long Yaris Cross is a small car but you would not think so once inside. With a higher roofline than the hatchback headroom is good and there is ample legroom in the back with a seat wide enough to fit three not too overweight adults.
Even more impressive is boot space and with the excellent 40-20-40 seat back arrangement there is room for skis or surfboard through the middle. It has two levels with a flat loading area, or the boards can be lifted to increase space. A useful extra is a removable rubber floor mat and rubber protectors for the seat backs.
Apart from the sports seats and logos GR Sport gets heated front seats and powered lumber support otherwise it is standard Yaris Cross. Trim quality is okay but there is far too much hard plastic along the dashboard and door cards. Glad to see heating controls are separate from the touchscreen which has been given a much needed upgrade so better graphics and faster response.
Without any increase in performance I would walk past GR Sport and look at a higher grade Cross if only to have a more comfortable ride. In spite of my hiatus with the speedometer this still makes it into my top three small SUVs, in fact it is a toss up between Ford Puma, which is a bit nicer to drive, or Yaris Cross which is a brilliant compelling all round package.
Yaris Cross GR Sport
£29,480 (starts £23,919)
1.5 litre petrol; 114bhp
0-62mph 11.2secs; 106mph
112g/km. 1st road tax £210
Insurance group 12