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Toyota Yaris Hybrid Driven: Why Europeans Won't Get Prius C Page 2

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Toyota Yaris Hybrid First Drive [Photos: Antony Ingram]

Toyota Yaris Hybrid First Drive [Photos: Antony Ingram]

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Why no Prius C?

While Toyota said the Yaris Hybrid won't be coming to the U.S. for highway economy reasons, there are a few more marketing-led answers as to why Europe gets the Yaris and the U.S. gets a Prius, and not the other way around.

Firstly, the strength of each badge must be considered. Yaris is Toyota's biggest-selling nameplate in Europe by quite some margin. It's the Toyota most customers are familiar with, so a hybrid model has greater market penetration than an all-new model like the Prius C. In the U.S, the regular Prius hugely out-sells the Yaris subcompact, so a car bearing the Prius badge has a greater impact.

Using the Yaris is also economically viable for Toyota. The current platform was designed with a hybrid system in mind, so the car's impressive interior and trunk space is unaffected. By using a near-identical powertrain to the Prius C, Toyota also benefits from economies of scale, making both cars cheaper to produce in a class where profit margins are lower.

Conclusion

There's no doubting that in Europe, the Yaris Hybrid is the most accomplished and important hybrid yet. It's the cheapest--undercutting many of its high-mpg diesel rivals--and it sits in a popular model line, in a high-selling sector.

It also makes the only other hybrid in its class--the Honda Fit Hybrid--seem obsolete. The Fit is $2,000 more expensive, less sophisticated with its mild hybrid technology, less economical, and where the Yaris avoids several road tax and congestion-charging schemes, the Fit attracts them with its higher CO2 emissions.

The U.S. won't miss the Yaris Hybrid, just as Europe won't miss the Prius C. Both cars are largely identical where it counts, and different where they need to be. And they're both very good cars.

Toyota provided airfare, lodging, and meals to enable High Gear Media to bring you this first-person drive report.

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Comments (6)
  1. I own a Prius c. I am very pleased with the fuel economy. Now maybe the "c" is different than the Yaris Hybrid, but I have to drive *differently* to maximize fuel economy, slower acceleration to stay in electric mode, coasting down hills, etc. But what I really want to say is that it sounds like if I had a choice between the Prius c and the Yaris hybrid, I would choose the Yaris. The "c" has a cramped back seat and unless you fold down the seat, the cargo area is tiny. Sure it is a subcompact, but c'mon, give us a few more inches.
     
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  2. Interesting to hear your thoughts, Ed.

    To confirm, to get the stated figures I had to consciously drive with economy in mind and naturally Toyota had chosen a route to allow the best chance of getting high economy figures.

    However, it did seem that over those same routes, a deliberately heavy-footed driving style still returned impressive economy, though we didn't get any significant highway driving, where economy may suffer a little.

    Regarding slow acceleration to stay in EV mode, Toyota actually recommends accelerating with the engine and then backing off to kick in EV mode - that way you don't hold up traffic, but also uses the greater engine power to accelerate, and more efficient EV mode to maintain speed. We're covering this soon!
     
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  3. Yeah, I have to say I have found the experience of driving the "c" is more complicated (and therefore more interesting) than can be encapsulated in a paragraph. When I am in traffic I do just as you say and accelerate with the gas engine and then cruise in electric mode.

    I have been getting numbers (according to the car) in the mid to upper fifties in hilly Pittsburgh, which is quite satisfying, for what it is worth. I guess if I just drove the "c" rather than trying to tease it into electric mode, I might get mileage numbers in the low 40's, but seems like almost any hybrid could do that. Almost no hybrid can get fifty three in the city (without ninja hypermiling skills).

    Check out the Prius c numbers on fuely.com
     
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  4. I really wish that when a manufacturer creates something that is innovative and works better than previous they wouldn't revert to the old design when introducing a new model.The one item I am writing about is the return to a traditional staggered gate transmission selector.On the second gen Prius its perfect,on the latest Prius less so and now on the Yaris gone altogether.I have the staggered gate on my IQ and find it crude,noisey and needing a visual glance to select direction. I do not believe it would be any cheaper to produce than the Prius electric switch type considering the numbers already made.Is this throwback to convention customer driven or dictated by bean counters?
     
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  5. I should have clarified why I think the selector is perfect on the second gen Prius... it's ergonomically correct as one can select direction without removing their hand from the steering wheel.its quiet,it's a modular electric switch fed through the computer with safety features preventing misuse. And finally it does'nt take up floor space.
     
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  6. Hi Don, sorry for the late reply to your comment. I'm actually in agreement with you - I like the high-tech switch-style shifter in the Prius, and much prefer it to a regular auto gate. I also like how little the smaller shifter intrudes into the cabin, particularly over a floor-mounted unit.

    However, I think you've hit the nail on the head. In Europe, where Yaris buyers are relatively conservative, a traditional gear gate is a more comfortable step than going to a Prius-style unit. It may also be cost-related, since apart from detail changes it's presumably the same physical unit.
     
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