The other day I was cruising on a Maryland motor way when I saw a white Toyota Yaris scurrying by the left side of the car. Now, before that day I couldn’t care less about the existence of the Toyota Yaris. I thought of it as the illegitimate little brother to that ghastly thing we call the Toyota Prius; in short, just another one of the plastic eco-crap boxes. However, looking at the little bugger from up close, I couldn’t help but imagine what a high-performance, hot hatch version might be like, considering the car’s small dimensions and sort of Peugeot 205iness.
And what d’ya know? Only a few petrol-filled days later (more on that coming shortly) this thing popped up before my eyes on my computer desktop.
Initial impressions? In a word, excitement. Honestly, I’d never been so excited about a Toyota since the GT86, but that was only because I knew that Subaru was the kid from school that did all the research and writing for the project, and Toyota just printed off three pictures, claiming that the printer ran out of ink. However, after having slept on it for a few nights, I’m a bit skeptical as to how good of a car that the Yaris Hybrid-R could actually be.
I just can’t help but think that the rear-wheel powering electric motor that only gives another 60 bhp will make the car feel like it’s carrying the unnecessary weight that it is. Honestly, a 300 horsepower, front-wheel drive hot hatch sounds like it’d be the dog’s bollocks, but adding on an electric motor and a battery pack that a Prius would be more deserving of, and God knows how much more power a Prius needs…
The reason why I’d even gotten excited about a hot version of a Yaris was because I had a compact and lightweight package with possibly a turbocharged four-cylinder in mind. I’m pleased by the fact that the at least sort of lived up to the engine and compact bit, but you can basically cross off lightweight and add ‘stupid, unnecessary electric motor and battery pack.’
And to break it down even further, you can truly capture what Toyota wants us to think about when we think of the Yaris R from the advertisements. The hot hatch has made and has kept its reputation of being a backroad blaster because it was light and agile enough to be thrashed round on a backroad.
However, with the ad showing the car racing up Eau Rouge and through La Source, there’s a possibility that it’s not quite agile enough to be thrown around a tight, twisting one-lane backroad like a proper hot hatch; instead, I predict that the car will probably be griped about as being a bit sluggish and slow to respond to both throttle and steering inputs.
And there we are. My chest has been made clear of my skepticism and now they are free to float in the internetosphere. So, can a Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R be any good? Obviously we won’t be able to truly know what the car is like until it’s been thoroughly thrashed both on track and on road. Let’s just hope that Toyota remembers a few things from Subaru’s booorrrring lecture about some nonsense called ‘driver involvement’ and ‘fun.’