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Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport Hybrid 2024 review


Toyota has increased its GR branding presence in Australia, but is the Yaris Cross really a GR Sport product?

Good points

  • Great on fuel
  • Comfortable sports seats
  • Fun-to-drive nature
  • Pleasant three-cylinder thrum
  • Quirky digital speedo
  • Stylish, modern looks

Needs work

  • ‘GR’ in name only
  • Clunky hybrid operation
  • Lacks some key safety features
  • Firm, unpolished ride
  • Outdated infotainment
  • Limited back seat space

Toyota’s GR Sport is very quickly becoming the equivalent of BMW’s M Sport trim. From the Land Cruiser 300 Series right through to the C-HR small SUV, the GR Sport name is building its reputation as the popular sports pack for Australian buyers.

But how does this GR branding follow through into the driving experience, and are these GR Sport-branded vehicles really any different to their non-sporty siblings?

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 rear 3/4

Well, today is the day to find out, as I have been thrown the keys to the Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid.

At $36,000 before on-roads, the front-drive GR Sport isn’t the most expensive Yaris Cross money can buy. That gong goes to the Urban hybrid AWD that is priced from $39,000 before on-roads costs.

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 badge 2

I can’t help but feel a little sceptical when it comes to sport-branded editions of regular city cars, but the Yaris Cross GR Sport promises an extra pep in its step given that it fits both GR-tuned suspension and brakes.

But for a car designed for largely city driving and the work commute, how much do Toyota buyers want sportiness in their daily drive? It’s now the time we found out.

What are the Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid’s features and options for the price?

The Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport evaluation vehicle we have been given has been fitted with the following features as standard:

  • 18-inch GR Sport alloy wheels
  • Black ultrasuede and leather seats 
  • 4.2-inch instrument cluster display 
  • 7.0-inch centre touchscreen
  • Six-speaker sound system
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto 
  • USB C and A ports 
  • LED daytime running lights and headlights 
  • Regenerative braking system
  • Single-zone climate control
  • Nanoe-X air purification system

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport 2023 front 3/4 close

For its $36,000 asking price, I think the Yaris Cross GR Sport is okay in terms of features, but the spec sheet isn’t quite as broad as I was expecting.

Interestingly, the GR Sport lacks some features that are available on the Urban, such as a head-up display and satellite navigation, which are omissions that should be standard in my opinion.

If you’re one to go ahead and tick the options box, the Yaris Cross GR Sport has very few to choose from, with only a two-tone roof being a $799 extra outlay.

How does the Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid drive?

The GR Sport, like the rest of its Yaris Cross siblings, is built for the city rather than the racetrack. Don’t let the GR Sport branding fool you: this small SUV is more a city grinder than corner winder.

Hopping into the Yaris Cross for the first time and switching it on starts with complete silence – this is a hybrid, after all. Tucked into the comfortable and supportive leather and suede seats, it’s time to set off on the road and see what the Yaris Cross GR Sport is like day to day.

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 driving rear

Under very light throttle, the Yaris Cross GR Sport will cruise around in EV-only mode, which is pretty pleasant. However, more than a quarter throttle will bring the 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine to life, and it’s a little bit overdramatic.

The transition between EV and petrol power is accompanied with a little thud, and overall feels a tad unpolished considering Toyota’s distinguished history with this electrified technology.

Power and torque comes from a 1.5-litre three-cylinder naturally-aspirated engine, along with a small electric motor, to produce 85kW (combined) and 120Nm.

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 engine

Those aren’t high outputs, though the GR Sport does feel brisker at getting to the city street speed limit than perhaps it actually is, which could be to do with the car’s relatively low 1235kg kerb weight.

Having experienced a few three-cylinder engines in my time, the Yaris Cross GR Sport was refreshing with its somewhat gruff and throaty three-pot rumble, which is unique in the current climate of largely four-cylinder turbo engines.

And although it does make some noise (which won’t be to everyone’s taste), it’s nowhere near as loud as my long-term Subaru Crosstrek’s 2.0-litre flat-four engine.

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 driving front 5

Another bonus? This is a very frugal powertrain, with our testing returning a figure of 3.8L/100km over a trip distance of around 200 kilometres. That’s dead on the official Toyota claim, which I think will please plenty of Yaris Cross buyers.

How about the ride quality? I drove the Yaris Cross extensively through city streets and also on the highway, where I found the vehicle to be more on the firm side and a little uncomfortable over even the smallest road surface imperfections.

The rear end of the Yaris Cross GR Sport uses a torsion beam setup and over undulations in the road surface, the Yaris Cross picked it all up, chattering away with some lack of refinement I wasn’t initially expecting.

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 driving front 10

There also seemed to be a significant amount of suspension noise, which was a little disappointing.

But the Yaris Cross GR Sport does make up for this firm suspension somewhat, displaying clear characteristics in the ‘fun-to-drive’ and ‘x-factor’ road testing category.

I very much enjoy small cars, and it was not only fun to blast around the city streets but to also challenge myself to get the lowest fuel economy possible.

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 driving rear 5

The car certainly handles well and feels balanced and poised through the corners. Although this car will hardly ever see a twisty road, I felt that the Yaris Cross conveyed a sense of fun to me, and that’s important. The steering is light and quick and the car feels agile on its feet.

I just wish that to make a car more involving or fun, it has to come at the cost of ride and refinement. If only there was the perfect balance.

What is the Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid’s interior and tech like?

The GR Sport variant of the Toyota Yaris Cross hasn’t been on the market for very long, and yet it’s already starting to age inside.

While the leather and faux suede upholstered seats and steering wheel feel premium and fresh, the glaring issue inside is the 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with its large piano black gloss surround.

Not only does this screen run the now old-fashion Toyota infotainment system, it’s also very small.

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 interior front
Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 gauges

Running my Android Auto on the screen gives barely enough space for the Android layout, with the multi-function view allowing only a tiny map section. Surely we will see an update with a better and bigger screen soon, but for now, this just isn’t up to scratch to the rest of the vehicle.

And to add to the issue, the reversing camera within this screen is small and of poor quality, making it difficult to see in low-light conditions.

I do like the digital dials for speedometer and EV/petrol hybrid power modes, but the central 4.2-inch digital instrument cluster could be slightly bigger and could provide greater functionality.

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 interior screen 2

Up front, driver and passenger get one USB-A and one USB-C port and generous cupholders, however the lack of a centre armrest is a bit strange and takes some getting used to.

The front sports seats are comfortable, supportive and look the part. I found these pews to be comfortable even after a few hours behind the wheel.

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 interior front seat
Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 interior back seat

In the back, things are more on the cramped side. Two adults will fit in the second row, but I can’t recommend it for long road trips.

That being said, this Yaris Cross GR Sport would be perfect for a young family, with plenty of room in the second row for kids and even very young ones in baby seats.

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 baby seats 3
Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 interior boot

In the boot, the Yaris Cross GR Sport has 390 litres of cargo space, which will be fine for the majority of situations but I wouldn’t want to move house or go to IKEA with the GR Sport.

For $36,000 before on-road costs, the Yaris Cross GR Sport gives a lot in the interior, but it falls behind with outdated tech and some cheap scratchy plastics.

Is the Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid a safe car?

As standard, the Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport comes with the following safety features:

  • AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • Blind spot monitoring 
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Lane trace assist 
  • Road sign assist 
  • Auto high beam
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Reversing camera 
  • 360-degree camera 
  • Eight airbags 

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 driving front 4

The wider Yaris Cross range was tested by ANCAP in 2021, however the GR Sport was oddly  not included in testing, meaning it is yet to hold an ANCAP rating. This is likely due to the fact that GR Sport was only added early in 2023. 

Generally, the Yaris Cross GR Sport’s safety systems worked well, however the lane trace assist would occasionally tug at the wheel rather abruptly when going down the highway. 

What are the Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid’s ownership costs?

The Yaris Cross might not win marks for its overly firm ride or somewhat clunky hybrid powertrain, but it certainly adds points for frugal fuel use and servicing.

During our week with the Yaris Cross GR Sport, we returned an average fuel economy of 3.8L/100km, exactly matching Toyota’s claim. This was throughout a mix of highway, urban and more sporty driving situations.

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 driving front 9

Theoretically, you would be able to drive up to 940km on a single tank, which has a 36-litre capacity.

The Yaris Cross will cost $1250 over five years to service through Toyota, and is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

This means that the ‘cost to own’ is very low – a big win.

The honest verdict on the Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid

What are my final thoughts on the Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport?

The small, sporty SUV from Toyota might have a GR Sport badge slapped on it, but this is certainly no canyon carver.

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport hybrid 2023 badge

The Yaris Cross nails the small car brief with frugal fuel use and some fun to drive characteristics, but is ultimately let down by a firm and jittery ride and a dated infotainment system.

Its 1.5-litre hybrid system is a little janky, but overall fun to use. I just wish the change between electric and petrol was smoother and more subtle.

If you’re after a fun city car for the whole family, skip the GR Sport hybrid and go for the Urban or GLX hybrid. Not only will it likely be more comfortable, but also more pleasant for those longer commutes.

Toyota Yaris Cross GR Sport 2023 front 2

With all being said, Toyota’s luxury arm Lexus has just announced the concept of a hot performance version of its upcoming LBX – a model based off the current Yaris Cross platform.

Called the Morizo RR concept, this plucky small SUV shoe horns the GR Yaris’ 224kW/400Nm 1.6-litre turbo-four and mechanical all-wheel-drive system into what we can only presume is a very fast little city car.

Perhaps, one day soon, Toyota could build its own version that could rival the likes of the Volkswagen T-Roc R.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs

Variant tested GR SPORT HYBRID

Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

1490 cc
67kW at 5500rpm
120Nm at 3800rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
36 litres
3.8L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
947km (claimed)
Front Wheel Drive
Single gear
4185 mm
1765 mm
1580 mm
Unoccupied weight
1200 kg

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