Wheels & Deals: Toyota Yaris Cross, a compact gem; plus news from Opel, Ford and Audi

Wheels & Deals: Declan Colley rolls out the latest motoring news from the world's leading car manufacturers
Wheels & Deals: Toyota Yaris Cross, a compact gem; plus news from Opel, Ford and Audi
The Yaris Cross is said to benefit from Toyota’s fourth-generation hybrid technology and will use the latest 1.5l hybrid system.

We review one ‘baby’ SUV on this page and now there’s another one.

Last week, Toyota launched its new Yaris Cross. The Japanese company has a high degree of confidence in what it describes as a car with “advanced hybrid technology, small-car design, and SUV engineering”.

As the purveyor of some of the dullest designs ever, the company is now trading loudly on its new ‘no more boring cars’ credo and with the Yaris Cross, it does have a smart-looking addition to the line-up.

The compact SUV is a self-charging hybrid and one hopes it is a lot better to drive than the terribly screechy Yaris Hybrid they sprung on us in 2012.

Of course, Toyota says it is, but we shall see.

We are told that the Yaris Cross is constructed on Toyota’s new GA-B compact-car platform. It also shares the ‘big-small’ design and packaging concept that characterised the original Yaris and has a roomy interior within a compact exterior.

The Yaris Cross is also a genuine SUV, benefiting from Toyota’s experience in originating the concept of the recreational SUV 25 years ago, with the RAV4 — today, the world’s best-selling SUV — and, more recently, with the C-HR. A raised ride height and the availability of AWD-i intelligent, all-wheel drive reinforce the Yaris Cross’s authentic SUV credentials.

Yaris Cross is said to benefit from Toyota’s fourth-generation hybrid technology and will use the latest 1.5l hybrid system, developed from the larger 2.0l and 2.5l powertrains used by recent new models, such as the Corolla, C-HR, RAV4, and Camry.

This unit is a three-cylinder, Atkinson-cycle petrol engine, precision-engineered to reduce friction and mechanical losses and optimise combustion speed. The result is high torque at low engine speeds and excellent fuel efficiency, Toyota say. The engine’s thermal efficiency is 40%, which is greater than comparable diesel engines and ensures strong fuel economy and low CO2 emissions. It will have a maximum output of 116bhp and Toyota say that special attention has been given to power delivery. In terms of emissions efficiency, the front-wheel drive model starts from below 90g/km CO2 and the AWD-i version from below 100g/km.

Toyota say the design evokes the classic qualities of SUVs, with a higher body and larger wheels/tyres communicating strength and purpose.

No prices have yet been announced.

Opel Mokka Mark II

We are not sure if this is good or bad news, but Opel has confirmed that the second generation of its best-selling Mokka crossover has commenced road testing.

Given that the original car was not exactly an award-winner, the new one should be better and it is set to enter production in the final quarter of this year, with its arrival in showrooms expected in early 2021.

It will also be available, from launch, with an electric powertrain, ahead of petrol and diesel engines, a testament to Opel’s commitment to electrifying its entire range by 2024.

Opel enthusiasts will observe that the new model has shed the ‘X’ in its name, but the company says it will deliver German engineering excellence, in an even more stylish, efficient, and technologically advanced package.

Although the more intricate details of the design are not visible yet, the muscular Mokka is impressive and shows crisp proportions with short front and rear overhangs and a fully digitised cabin, hinting at a clear, new Opel design philosophy.

James Brooks, managing director at Leeson Motors, Opel importer in Ireland, said that he was excited to give a sneak preview of what is to come with the second-generation Mokka. “The all-new Mokka will denote an important next step in Opel’s new design philosophy. Launching the car with a fully electric engine builds on our strategy to give our customers the freedom to choose the model and powertrain to suit their lifestyle or needs,” Mr Brooks said.

The Mokka EV will join a quickly expanding range of electrified Opel models, including the Corsa-e and the Grandland Hybrid 4, just launched, and the new Vivaro-e, due to arrive before the end of this year.

Ford's battery-powered Mustang Cobra

Ford says that it isn’t loud and that it doesn’t use a drop of fuel, but it’s projected to crush the quarter-mile in eight seconds, at 170mph.

That is pretty impressive acceleration.

But then, it should be: It is a one-off from Ford Performance and it is a Mustang Cobra Jet factory drag racer with all-electric propulsion.

The battery-powered Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 prototype is purpose-built and projected to deliver over 1,400 horsepower and over 1,100ft-lbs of instant torque to demonstrate the capabilities of an electric powertrain.

Following the debut of the all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV — the first-ever all-electric Mustang — the Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 prototype represents another opportunity to advance Mustang heritage and performance, while simultaneously incorporating some of the most advanced technology coming to Ford’s future powertrains.

Toyota hybrid sales

Last January, Toyota passed the 15m mark for hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) sales worldwide, since the Prius was launched in 1997.

Today, in Europe, sales of HEVs have passed the 2.8m mark, with a range of 19 HEV models across the Toyota and Lexus brands, which, in 2019, accounted for 52% of total volume, and 63% in western Europe.

The range of hybrid electric vehicles globally from Toyota and Lexus now numbers 44, far eclipsing the flag-bearer, which remains the symbol of the company’s early and visionary foray into mass electrification.

Audi Avant plug-in

The popular Audi Avant will now be available as a plug-in hybrid and has zero local emissions.

Following the A6 Saloon, the full-size station wagon is now entering the market as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

The intelligent drive management, with a predictive operating strategy, enables the new Audi A6 Avant 55 TFSI e-quattro to achieve a high electric range, low fuel consumption, and dynamic performance.

The Audi A6 Avant PHEV has a comprehensive range of standard equipment, including the S line exterior package, the Matrix LED headlights, as well as the sports suspension and sports seats.

Audi is now also offering its full-size station wagon A6 Avant as a plug-in hybrid.

The electric range of the Audi A6 Avant 55 TFSI e-quattro is up to 51km in the WLTP cycle.

The A6 Avant PHEV accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.7 seconds.

Its top speed is 250km/h. In electric-only mode, the plug-in hybrid can reach a speed of up to 135kph.

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