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Yaris joins elite hybrid club, but will it save you those extra thousands?

WHY do some car manufacturers make vehicles we don't really want or need?

The BMW X6 is a prime example.

A fully-fledged 4x4 with a coupe-like, low roofed body – bizarre.

Porsche did something similar with the Panamera – a gargantuan 4-door 911 which you can now get in ... diesel.

The only reasonable explanation I can come up with is they do it because they can and the accountants figure the marque will eventually recoup the design costs.

Now, that's all well and good at the high end as the 'more money than sense' cliche kicks in, but this peculiar fad has spread.

Yes, the same rules now apply in the 'bread and butter' end of the market which unlike the luxury end can sometimes confuse customers and confound critics.

The new Toyota Yaris – the only B-Segment model available in petrol diesel and hybrid falls into this bracket – but in a good way.

Not only have the Japanese car giant reduced the size of the engine from the 1.8 litre used in the Auris and Prius to a 1.5 litre, the electric motor is also lighter as is the transaxle, inverter and battery pack.

The results are an astounding 81mpg or 3.5 l/100 km and CO2 emissions of just 79g/km meaning road tax of just €160 annually.

But are those stats radically different to that of the entry level 1.0 litre, 5-door VVTi petrol Yaris and can you justify spending the extra €3,000 on the hybrid?

That's down to personal circumstances and of course choice but I can't help but wonder; Where does one draw a line between small petrol engines and hybrid?

Where better to explore this conundrum than with the Yaris – the best- selling model in its class which has amassed 56,000 sales since its launch in 1999. From word go it proved a massive success.

Irish punters were bowled over by the perfect combination of reliability, affordability and comfort – making it the ultimate urban car.

In households across the country the little supermini became the favourite mode of transport to the supermarket, school run, swimming lessons and ballet classes as the spacious interior carried five with ease and all their gear.

It sipped the juice, was cheap to maintain and retained one of the highest second-hand values on the market.

So in order to make it even more frugal the new Hybrid has been introduced.

Around town and in rush-hour traffic it thrives. In EV Mode (electric) the stress of the city commute disappears and the light steering, automatic gearbox and colour reversing camera take the chore out of parallel parking.

But take the Yaris Hybrid out of suburbia any you also take it out if its comfort zone.

Any sort of hard driving is greeted with an absolute racket as the engine labours and the same CVT transmission snuffs out rapid gear changes.

Motorway driving will see fuel consumption increase considerably and one 241km round trip used over half a tank of petrol.

On jaunts like that the whole concept is pointless as the more than capable entry level petrol (€200 road tax bracket) would be a much better option.

The Yaris range starts at €15,555 with the Hybrid at €18,950.