All objectivity aside for a second, this is a rather nice looking little crossover - despite it being a vehicle category I don’t have much affection for. Even in this gold-like yellow, the high bonnet, 18-inch wheels, and black contrast elements give it style and presence.
That would’ve been a nice combination to attract attention at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show where it was scheduled to premiere. Sadly, the early March event was cancelled due to the concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
With looks covered, this Yaris Cross is about as unambiguous as can be about what it is and where it stands. Obviously, it’s a higher-riding, somewhat SUV-like sibling of the European-spec Yaris hatch which, annoyingly, we are denied from buying here.
Technically, it also shares the Yaris name with the very sporty GR Yaris, but takes visual cues mostly from the RAV4 - a model we hope to enjoy on our roads sooner rather than later. Looking and hopefully driving like a smaller version of Toyota’s midsize SUV makes the proposition of the Yaris Cross quite appealing.
But is it more appealing than a C-HR? We think so yes! Though it’s meant to slot in beneath it in Toyota’s crossover/ SUV hierarchy. They’re comparable in raw dimensions, though naturally the C-HR has an advantage there (80mm longer wheelbase, 30mm wider, and 180mm longer overall).
That isn’t too much of a size gap, though, and the C-HR’s cabin isn’t known for being especially huge. Perhaps, for most buyers, the more rounded styling and more-than-adequate practicality will lead to the Yaris Cross being the more popular.
In this writers opinion, the newer but ‘smaller’ entrant makes a better case for itself against its slightly older, somewhat larger cousin, putting up a stronger fight against the likes of the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-30, Peugeot 2008, and incoming Proton X50.
In most markets, the entry engine will be a 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated 3-cylinder engine producing 118hp. However, a 116hp hybrid will also be on offer and will enable ‘e’ all-wheel drive with an electric motor powering the rear axle.
Higher tier variants of the five-seat, five-door crossover will also come equipped with the Toyota Safety Sense suite, which will include Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, front and rear cross traffic alert, and Lane Departure Warning among others features.
Inside, it’s pretty much standard fare if you’re already familiar with the Euro-spec Yaris. We have a very functional and decently stylish dashboard, elevated by interesting upholstery patterns on the leather seats and ambient interior lighting. There’s also a generously sized infotainment screen with clear support for Apple CarPlay (and Android Auto).
Sadly, there are no plans as yet to introduce it to the Malaysian market. However, should there be enough justification, a local launch could be on the cards for early 2021 given that the Yaris Cross has already been confirmed for the equally right-hand drive Australian market debut in late 2020.