Campbell Spray enjoys driving the award-winning small Toyota but thinks lack of space is a problem
As Ziggy and Dooey were being belted into the car after their afternoon walk in Phoenix Park an acquaintance came up with his dog and I inquired about how the repainting of his lovely green 30-year-old Turbo R Bentley was coming on. But he was having none of it.
“This is lovely. Absolutely lovely, very, very classy. Look at that colour, those beautiful lights. This is some gorgeous car,” he exclaimed as he continued to stroke the red pearlescent paint – actually called Tokyo Fusion – of the Toyota Yaris I was driving that week.
He was almost making the same yelps as Dooey does when she sees a stag in the park. It made me look at the little car in a new light.
I had been looking forward to driving the Yaris for some time. Earlier this year it had won the European Car of the Year trophy; a result which was helped by many jurors being almost struck speechless by the performance of the sporty sister the 4WD 360-hp Yaris GR which is the finest hot hatch available at the moment. But the ordinary Yaris’s design, super petrol/battery hybrid system – which can deliver 80mpg (3.5l/100km) around town – very low emissions, perky ride and top class safety features swung the support.
I really liked driving it. It was nicely responsive and the heads-up display, in the top-of-the-range Premier edition which comes in at €26,475, was very good. This isn’t cheap for what still remains a small car whose rear space for tall adults is very compromised.
There is a non-hybrid petrol version starting at €19,110 while the hybrids begin at €23,485. The luggage area is not as big or adaptable as many rivals but it is adequate enough and there is even space for a temporary spare wheel.
Toyota always comes very high in reliability surveys and the little fourth-generation Yaris should be no exception with very good depreciation rates. Although my wife liked the looks, she is against cuteness at the moment so I hope she will be more taken with the Yaris Cross when we drive it.
It is bigger all round and has a much more elevated stance. However its prices start at where the ordinary Yaris’s ends. I think the rear space and relatively old-fashioned infotainment system will count against the success of the Yaris hatchback.
Yet I was rather taken with the French-built Japanese car even if people might have thought I would struggle to get in! If you want space and more adaptability it is worth considering the Honda Jazz hybrid, there’s a slight bit extra outlay yet it is a far more practical. The Jazz is always at the top of satisfaction ratings.
If the Yaris is small, the Citroen Ami is tiny, but that’s the whole point of it. The quirky little two-seat runaround is part of “urban mobility solutions” and is aimed at navigating busy streets and fitting into narrow parking spaces. Expect to see the Cargo version in use by An Post and others.
The total vehicle weight of the little fully electric vehicle is just 485kg and it is only 2.41m long and 1.39m wide. There’s a 5.5kwh battery which plugs straight into a conventional 220v socket and charges completely in three hours to give a range of 75 kilometres and a top speed of 45kmh.
A nostalgic nod to the iconic Citroen 2CV comes from the side windows being opened by flipping the glass upwards. I expect the Ami is going to be very big with schemes like Gocar, and I can imagine the day when banks of them and similar vehicles will have bays around the big cities like those for the Dublin Bike scheme.
The price of around €10,000 will work against private buyers. However in the UK, where they will be considerably cheaper, there are already 120,000 expressions of interest in buying them. In France they can be used by anyone aged above 14 and a licence is not required. However here the Ami will remain a left-hand vehicle and a full driving licence will be required.
The insurance situation has to be resolved as it is likely to be very much a second vehicle for private customers, ideal for hopping down to the shops. I loved my small test in the buzzy little Ami although I wouldn’t like it so much if massive juggernauts were thundering past.
On the day I saw the Ami, Citroen’s new flagship C5 X model was on display. It looks very striking and has a rather elevated stance with large, almost-estate-like space. The seat comfort as in all Citroen saloons (but definitely not in the Ami!) will be first class. The cabin also looks very plush and modern.
It goes on sale next March with a petrol engine and plug-in hybrid version. A full EV will come in 2024.
I caught up with the new Kia EV-6 last Monday a couple of weeks after testing it in southern Spain. Amazingly, this large electric vehicle looked even more striking and was a most satisfying drive as I drove out from Castleknock Hotel around my old stomping ground of the Strawberry Beds, where I lived for five years between 2003 and 2008.
The three pubs down the ‘Beds’ – especially the Strawberry Hall – have some great outdoor spaces for convivial mingling. The long winding road along the Liffey is a wonderful place to escape to and was blessed to be given a special conservation order back in the 1980s.
It is good to see that nearly all the derelict cottages I remember have been brought back to life.
Anyone looking at buying an EV should consider the EV-6 and its sister the Hyundai Ioniq 5. These two beautifully designed Korean cars are perhaps the finest EVs at the moment for their price.
After grants the EV-6 starts at €50,000 and is very highly specced. You’ll be absolutely knocked out by the interior furnishings and space.
I’ve got one for a full test in a couple of weeks, but for the moment don’t think of not checking them out. You’ll be blown away.