2021 Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid (car review)

AUSTRALIA’s leading car brand, Toyota, describes the 2021 Yaris ZR Hybrid as the small car that has it all. We’ll admit we were sceptical about that claim, but it’s sporty and offers plenty of visual sass from its funky compact hatch design.

Its incredibly well styled from the front, with aggressive contours around the front grille and bumper. Our Yaris ZR Hybrid came in Coral Rose, and the bold red against a matte black grille looked super sexy.

A well paired combination with the auto-retracting black mirrors simply adds to the look. It rides on five-leaf clover styled 16-inch alloys, which sort of don’t work with the high riding wheel arches, making them look strangely small.

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The view from the rear of the Yaris is all about taste though, and the 2021 Yaris ZR Hybrid has bubble-butt for days. It’s got some nice side skirts and a spoiler kit that follows on from the front end too.

Inside, Toyota have reimagined the driver’s console. Bye-bye dials, hello digital. LED speedometer to the right, hybrid charge status to the left. The latter fluctuates between power, charge, and eco modes.

Between these two displays is a 4.2-inch multi-information display. It’s end-to-end digital, and there’s even the option to scroll through your Spotify tracks, complements of the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

You can also keep on top of the brilliant fuel economy experience thanks to the Hybrid powertrain, but more on this later. A nifty little head-up display projects your speed and other alerts into your peripheral view, and that can be quite handy.

There are door pockets for driver and passenger, which is a nice touch, and a small drink bottle fits in well. But the tapered design of the pocket makes it hard to fit a hand in to rummage around for something small, such as house keys.

You’ll fit two coffees in the centre console, but you’d better have good reach. They are far back behind the handbrake lever, and almost in line with the backrest of your ZR sports fabric trimmed seat.

There’s some storage space for your phone just ahead of the 6-speed automatic transmission, and an appropriately placed USB port too. A 7.0-inch colour touchscreen powers the infotainment system, and the 6-speaker system is impressive.

It lacks a decent bass sound. There’s some real highlights though, including the leather-accented steering wheel, with a multitude of built-in controls. It’s a nicely laid out steering wheel, that feels natural to use.

The 2020 Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid comes with a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, thanks to its eight SRS airbags, and a bevy of advanced driver assists like lane trace, lane departure alert with steering assist, and pre-collision safety which has pedestrian/cyclist detection.

There’s also a blind spot monitor and ABS. The pre-collision warning system does sometimes throw up false positives, and we did notice the pedestrian warning went off once or twice, when there wasn’t actually a pedestrian.

Automatic high-beam control, a reverse camera with traffic cross alert, and vehicle stability and traction control also feature. Safety goodness aside, it’s a pretty quiet little thing to get out on the road.

Powered by a 1.5-litre VVT-IE hybrid engine that offers 85kW of power and 141Nm of torque, it’s whisper quiet. It’s got plenty of grunt though. It’s got plenty of zip (much to the surprise of two unsuspecting passengers), and great corner control.

There’s a slight lag when the internal combustion engine kicks in, but it’s not really noticeable once you’re used to it. The battery charges as you drive thanks to regenerative braking, and you should manage 3.3-litres/100km on the fuel economy front.

In real world testing, we managed 3.8, with some spirited driving. It comes with a 36-litre petrol tank. For some perspective; next time you’re shopping, hold two 2-litre milk bottles in your hands, and then remember that this Yaris uses less than that to move 100km.

Answering whether the ZR Yaris is family friendly is a tricky one though. It isn’t very spacious in the rear, but if you have a young family, with say one or two younger kids, then you’re all good. Adults in the back seat, not so much.

It’s the perfect car when hunting for parking around Sydney though, and you can grab those small car spots that the big cars can’t have. Luggage capacity sits at 270-litres, and the rear seats are split-fold.

It comes in a rainbow of colours, including Glacier White, Ebony, Crystal Pearl, Silver Pearl, Atomic Rush, Scarlett, Lunar Blue, Bronx Bronze, Cherry Blossom, Coral Rose, Eclectic Blue, and Electric Green.

In some colour choices, you can also choose a black roof for increased contrast. The 2021 Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid is priced at $36,334 drive away and is great value for money considering all the inclusions you get.

Our test vehicle was provided by Toyota Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid, contact your local Toyota dealer.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness
Value for money


Pros – cutting-edge safety inclusions; intelligent driver assist; astounding fuel economy.
Cons – small rear space; wheel and wheel arch proportions; cup holder location.
Sabih Dean
Sabih Dean
Driving is one of my favourite pastimes. How much I enjoy it depends on the power, comfort, luxury, and panache of the car I’m in. It makes all the difference.


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<strong>Pros –</strong> cutting-edge safety inclusions; intelligent driver assist; astounding fuel economy.<br> <strong>Cons –</strong> small rear space; wheel and wheel arch proportions; cup holder location.2021 Toyota Yaris ZR Hybrid (car review)