South Africans have been reluctant to buy hybrid vehicles. One of the reasons is because Government hasn’t provided cash incentives but, despite this, Toyota is trying to get local motorists to warm up to more responsible performance with its Yaris HSD.
The manufacturer’s Hybrid Drive System is no stranger in our market; in fact, it is in its fourth generation and more than four million vehicles fitted with this system have been sold worldwide. Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) is hoping to make hybrids more appealing to the local market and so the Yaris HSD is the smallest and most affordable hybrid on sale here.
The eco-friendly building of the University of Pretoria played host to the launch of the Yaris HSD. Environmentalist David Pepper explained the relevance of hybrid vehicles to the planet’s ecology. His message was clear, “Hybrids will have the last laugh.” As the owner of a Prius, he said the reason he turned to a hybrid was because of his conscience, his love of efficient driving (mainly to annoy his kids), its quiet operation, which makes it a threat to priests (they don’t hear him coming), it’s the perfect commuter and it lasts a long time. He believes that South Africans will soon consider hybrids as an option and, in doing so, will spark new actions: recycling, using energy-saving bulbs, etc. And so the chain of events will start to curb the issues of global warming.
With this fresh in our minds, and feeling quite depressed about our planet and its severe weather changes, we stepped in to the Yaris HSD and were told we had an hour and 40 minutes to get to our destination. Those with the best fuel consumption would win a prize. My driving partner and I were on a mission to win, which would see us driving at 40 km/h. Toyota’s claimed fuel consumption for the Yaris HSD is an impressive 3,8 L/100km, which I thought was a bit optimistic. However, we soon realised TSAM’s claim was rather humble. We achieved 3,15 L/100 km and we didn’t even win. The winning team achieved an average fuel consumption of 2,42 L/100 km.
With it being a competition, combined with my super-competitive nature, it was hard to focus on the task at hand: test-driving the Yaris HSD. The petrol engine’s outputs of 55 kW at 4 800 r/min and 111 N.m of torque are supplemented by the electric motor to produce a total of 74 kW. When approaching a hill, it helps to build up speed before ascending it (if you want to keep fuel consumption low, that is). Keeping the power meter in the Eco range required a lot of planning and coasting, but once I got the hang of it, it became natural; this is Toyota’s “conscious drive towards responsible performance” shining through.
As Kyle mentioned in his driving impression at the international launch, despite the increased aerodynamic quality, lower centre of gravity thanks to most of the hybrid componentry sited under the rear bench and larger wheels, the HSD still seemed fidgety when confronted with crosswinds. Because we were driving “eco-consciously”, if you will, I didn’t experience this, but it felt rather planted on the road. The one distraction, though, was wind noise, despite driving at speeds my grandmother would be proud of.
The Yaris HSD benefits from a three-year/100 000 km warranty, extended to eight years/195 000 km on hybrid system components, including the battery. As with other Yaris models, the HSD range comes with a standard four-year/60 000 km service plan.
It’s hard to say how South Africans will respond to the Yaris HSD, but Toyota is certainly on the right track with this vehicle. It’s affordable and has managed to maintain the same boot space as the regular Yaris by putting the battery under the rear seats. And, it looks good. The fuel consumption on the launch drive was very impressive but, let’s be honest, there aren’t many people who would drive as slowly and as consciously as Mr Pepper would probably like us to, but it is a step in the right direction. And, even if you drive as you normally would, I can’t imagine the fuel consumption peaking over 5,0 L/100 km, anyway.
I hope that, after reading this, you’ll start recycling!
Toyota Yaris HSD
Engine: 1,5-litre, four-cylinder petrol
Power: 55 kW at 4 800 r/min (total system output: 74 kW)
Torque: 111 N.m from 3 600-4 400 r/min (electric motor: 169 N.m)
0 to 100 km/h: 11,8 seconds
Top speed: 165 km/h
Fuel consumption: 3,8 L/100 km
CO2: 88 g/km
Pricing: Xs R223 800, XR R245 900
*All manufacturer’s claimed figures
For more info on the Yaris HSD, click here.