Toyota Yaris Cross - compact rival to Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008 revealed

Toyota has unveiled its new compact SUV, the Yaris Cross. It’s something of a looker; is, of course (being a Toyota), a hybrid; and offers the option of all-wheel drive. On-sale next year, the Yaris-based newcomer will go head-to-head with the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and VW T-Cross in what is, probably, the most congested and highly competitive sectors in the UK.

Sitting below the Toyota C-HR and Rav4, the Yaris Cross measures well when lined up against the sector benchmark, the Juke: the Toyota is 45mm longer overall, and has a 30mm longer wheelbase. That, inevitably, will mean more space inside.

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And while the newcomer shares its 2,560mm wheelbase with the latest Yaris supermini, the compact SUV is 240mm longer overall and is 90mm taller. It’s also 20mm wider than the supermini, and benefits from 30mm of extra ground clearance.

But it’s another, bland compact SUV?

No, far from it. Revealed via an online presentation, the Yaris Cross — built on the smallest version of Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform — will, crucially, bring hybrid technology to the small SUV market from its launch.

“Clearly, we want the car to be perceived immediately as an SUV, so we emphasised a higher ground clearance; a strong horizontal axis, giving great balance and poise; big, squared wheelarches; and of course big wheels, up to 18 inches in diameter,” Lance Scott, design manager at Toyota’s European Design Development studio, explained.

“The face was another very important aspect for us. We wanted to keep the strong DNA of Toyota’s SUV line-up, but at the same time give Yaris Cross its own identity.”

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So, it’s a Toyota SUV looky-likey

Hmmm … not really. The Yaris Cross gets its own different design of grille and headlights compared to the Yaris, while the side profile shows a much more rugged, tough look due to its large squared-off wheelarches — surrounded by black plastic cladding — and a new C-pillar.

There’s also new styling at the rear, and on some models the tailgate will be powered. While Toyota has yet to confirm the boot size, we should expect it to be larger and more practical than that of the Yaris. We know though that Toyota’s Belt Flex system for securing items, underfloor storage and an adjustable boot floor will all be available. Rear seats will also have a 40:20:40 adjustment.

You mentioned it’s a hybrid …

I did. The Yaris Cross is powered by the same 114bhp 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid Atkinson-cycle powertrain as found in the Yaris. The Cross will — according to Toyota — emit less than 120g/km on front-wheel drive models and 135g/km for all-wheel-drive variants.

And while the company has yet to confirm performance or fuel figures, it does emphasise this fourth-generation hybrid system has been tuned to ensure the Yaris Cross feels responsive to drive.

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… and all-wheel drive

Toyota has also made the bold step of making intelligent all-wheel drive will be available as an option on the Yaris Cross. Though the electrical system will operate in front-wheel drive for most of the time, when required extra torque will be sent to the rear axle.

As you would expect, a number of driver assistance systems — including automatic braking and steering intervention — have been integrated and come as part of Toyota Safety Sense.

What about the interior?

Toyota is remaining tight-lipped on the car’s interior details; though the images released clearly show it closely resembles, not surprisingly, that of the Yaris supermini. It means the dash is dominated by a large centrally-mounted touchscreen featuring the latest version of the firm's infotainment system, which offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Will it be a success?

I suspect so. The world appears to becoming ever more crowded by compact SUVs. Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, I think you should prepare to see a lot more on our roads. From what we’ve seen so far, the Yaris Cross certainly looks to be one of the more stylish and practical on the market.

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So confident is Toyota that it expects 150,000 to be sold across Europe in the first full year of sales. In fact, the carmaker believes the latest Yaris family — hatch, GR and Cross — will account for a third of its total sales. So yes, I think we can predict this one will be a success.

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