PRODUCED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH TOYOTA
Good editor Carolyn Enting puts the Toyota’s GR Yaris, Cross Hybrid and Hatch Hybrid to the test with motorsport rising star Chelsea Herbert.
There’s nothing like experiencing a hot lap to appreciate the skill and thrill of motorsport and understand the attraction to it. What makes it even more thrilling is doing one in a hybrid.
Imagine the future of motorsport where it’s hybrid or EVs racing around a track. Diehard petrol heads may scoff it will never happen but when it comes to CO2 emissions and noise pollution they are the better choice for us and the planet, and they can sure fly, so why not?
Admittedly the fastest car on the track the day New Zealand motorsport driver Chelsea Herbert hosted our group for some hot laps was the GR Yaris (not a hybrid, though it is extremely fuel-efficient). It is the first every-day production car to be reverse engineered by Toyota from a pure motorsport car. And while it’s super racy, the Yaris model I’d choose to take home would have to be the new compact SUV Toyota Yaris Cross.
The Golden Ore exterior definitely beckoned to my inner fashionista though it wasn’t just the paint job that got me excited.
Being an SUV it sits higher on the road, improving visibility but it’s not so massive as to make parking a mission. And there’s plenty of boot space! The roomer interior has been cleverly designed to easily fit skis/snowboard, and there is a height adjustable luggage deck that allows for either secure underfloor storage or more space in the boot for larger bags.
I also like a car with good “pick up”, or in the words of Herbert “really responsive to the throttle”.
Herbert, 21, has been racing since age 7 and has made history being the first woman to win a New Zealand V8 race. As a Toyota driver she puts the Yaris Hatch hybrid through its paces on the track at Hampton Downs for the car’s new TVC and it definitely puts zoom into the peddle!
“It’s great to have a car where you can put your foot down and just go and there’s no lag…, as not having that can be really dangerous at times when you think you can put your foot down and your car doesn’t go and you go whoopsy,” says Herbert.
The Yaris Hatch and Cross models also have some great safety features, which Herbert says is “huge” for her. She broke her back racing in January 2020.
“It makes you feel very secure and confident,” says Herbert. “When you’re driving a car that is something you really want and one of those features is the automatic braking system when if you are coming too close up to a vehicle or object it automatically brakes for you.”