Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport (2023) review
Arrival of the GR Sport trim emphasises what a great crossover the Yaris Cross is.
Shane O' Donoghue
Shane O' Donoghue

Published on August 1, 2023

Toyota Yaris Cross overview

At the time of writing, the Toyota Yaris Cross is the fourth-best-selling new car in Ireland this year. That's an astounding achievement for a small crossover, especially given its nearest direct rival is down in fourteenth place. And while some might point to supply issues in recent years skewing the market, most manufacturers have come through that difficulty now, so we believe that the Yaris Cross is a genuinely well-liked car.

Based on the same core underpinnings as the Toyota Yaris supermini, the Yaris Cross is bigger in every direction, but it's hardly a hulking great SUV, either. It sits 160mm taller than the Toyota Corolla hatchback, but still 90mm shorter than the Toyota RAV4, for example. In reality, it's a car that sits between the Corolla and the Yaris and I guess that's what makes it so popular.

Although the Yaris Cross outsells all of its rivals by quite some margin right now, there are lots of good crossovers at the same price point vying for its buyers' attention, varying from the larger Dacia Duster and new Hyundai Kona to the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008, Volkswagen T-Roc, the DS 3 and plenty more besides. No doubt many drivers move to the Yaris Cross from C-segment hatchbacks, too.

Our test car is the newest addition to the line-up, the Yaris Cross GR Sport. Car enthusiasts will be aware of the GR (Gazoo Racing) brand and the serious high-performance machines to wear the badge - such as the GR Supra and the WRC-inspired GR Yaris. For the mass market, there's the spinoff GR Sport trim line designed to give the car a sporty look inside and out, but the mechanicals are little changed. So it is with the Yaris Cross GR Sport. We'll detail what you get for your money in the next section below.

The Toyota Yaris Cross model range

First up, all versions of the Yaris Cross sold in Ireland use the same hybrid powertrain. It's of the non-plug-in variety (previously marketed as "self-charging") and it's the same setup as found in the Toyota Yaris. An efficient 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine is paired with a 59kW electric motor and an electronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) to drive the front wheels. There's no all-wheel-drive option.

Irish prices for the Yaris Cross start at €30,305 for the entry-level Luna model. That comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, a comprehensive suite of safety equipment under the umbrella of Toyota Safety Sense 2, rear-view camera, automatic air conditioning, auto lights and wipers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless entry and start, an eight-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth telephony. Toyota Ireland has found that more buyers opt for the higher-spec cars, so that's as 'basic' as it gets - a long way from the Terra trim line of old.

Next up is the Yaris Cross Sport. This adds privacy glass, a two-tone exterior, digital instruments, 17-inch alloy wheels, projector LED headlamps, more speakers and a variable boot setup to proceedings, all for €33,000.

For €36,480, buyers can have the high-spec Sol version. This features a larger touchscreen (nine inches across the diagonal) with Toyota's latest software, cloud navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay. The seating is significantly upgraded with part-synthetic leather upholstery, deeper bolstering and heating for the front seats and even powered lumbar support for the driver. It also gets front and rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control with an air purifier, automatically retracting door mirrors, ambient lighting and 18-inch alloy wheels.

At the top of the tree is the GR Sport model under test here. It costs €37,990 and the equipment count is based on that of the Yaris Cross Sol. It adds a wireless phone charger and a massive panoramic glass roof to that specification, along with its own sportier design of 18-inch rims. It also gets a GR makeover in terms of badging and detailing inside and out, including on the sporty three-spoke steering wheel and unique upholstery.

The Toyota Yaris Cross interior

While the Yaris Cross feels more spacious than the Yaris hatch inside thanks to the higher roof, it's worth bearing in mind that it has a shorter wheelbase than the Toyota Corolla hatch, so it's no more spacious than that car. There are roomier cars in the sector, so the Yaris Cross is about average in that regard. Two adults will fit in the back so long as the front seats aren't back too far, there are pockets in the backs of those front seats and ISOFIX mountings in the two outer rear seats - standard stuff for this segment.

All versions of the Yaris Cross get split-folding rear seats, though the higher-spec models (Sol and GR Sport) get a 40:20:40 split for more versatility. When folded down they line up with the boot floor for easy loading of long items, increasing boot volume from 397 litres to 1,097 litres in total. Usefully, the base of the boot itself splits in two to allow various configurations and two different heights. There's also a 12-volt power socket back there.

Up front, the dashboard is a simple affair, and it mixes a robust feeling with the occasional piece of soft-touch material. The GR-branded steering wheel features perforated leather and red stitching and it's a good size, still allowing an uninterrupted view of the simple digital instrumentation behind. That red stitching is carried through to the gaiter of the drive selector and into the seat upholstery front and rear.

Ahead of the gear lever is a switchable wireless phone charger with physical switchgear above for the dual-zone climate control. The nine-inch touchscreen is set high in your line of sight, and it all works well. Though we'd like a little more storage space, and a few more USB charging ports, the interior of the Yaris Cross at least feels well put together.

The Toyota Yaris Cross driving experience

When we first drove the Yaris Cross in 2021, we were pleasantly surprised with how it balanced fun handling and comfort. None of that has changed in the GR Sport, despite the use of 18-inch wheels and low-profile Goodyear tyres. Naturally, the lower-spec models on smaller wheels should be even more comfortable around town, but this car could never be described as uncomfortable. It soaks up speedbumps and potholes well, while also being stable on the motorway and even quite fun on a twisty road thanks to its relatively low weight and responsive steering.

The three-cylinder hybrid system works well, too, though it's no powerhouse with a maximum 116hp on tap. And you'll need to rev the engine out to achieve that. It's more preferable to make use of the torque boost of the electric motor. Toyota doesn't quote a combined maximum torque output for its hybrids, but the motor produces 141Nm, which is more than the engine can muster, and that helps the Yaris Cross feel quite nippy at urban speeds in particular. Its compact size makes it a joy to drive in such circumstances, where it's highly manoeuvrable and agile. Visibility is great in all directions, too.

You'll probably get the best economy from the hybrid system around town and at low speeds, as the car runs in its zero-emissions EV mode as much as it can (though of course the energy to do that comes mostly from the fuel in the tank). To enhance efficiency in stop-start conditions, it's worth using the 'B' mode for the automatic transmission as that ups the level of brake energy regeneration. And though it'll be assumed that this hybrid system is best kept to urban driving, we covered over 800 kilometres in this car, with about 600km of that on 120km/h motorways with a few people on board. Pleasingly, it managed an average fuel consumption figure of 5.3 litres/100km.

Our verdict on the Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport

A chance to revisit the Toyota Yaris Sport makes it clear why so many Irish car buyers are choosing the little crossover. It's a really likeable car. I think it looks great, especially in GR Sport guise, and it's good to drive in all scenarios. Sure, most won't think this top-spec version is worth the extra outlay, but we applaud the expansion of the line-up to give buyers even more choice.


Tech Specs

Model testedToyota Yaris Cross GR Sport
Irish pricingYaris Cross starts at €30,305; €37,990 as tested
Powertrainhybrid - 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, 59kW electric motor
Transmissionautomatic gearbox - CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), front-wheel drive
Body stylefive-door, five-seat crossover
CO2 emissions113g/km
Irish motor tax€190
Fuel consumption5.0 litres/100km (56.5mpg)
Top speed170km/h
0-100km/h11.2 seconds
Max power116hp
Max torque120Nm for engine alone and 141Nm for motor alone
Boot space397 litres all seats in use, 1,097 litres rear seats folded
Kerb weight1,200kg
Rivals to the Yaris Cross GR Sport (2023)