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Among the cyclists, we tested the new Yaris hybrid

Racing bikes, VTCs, Dutch bicycles, electrically assisted bicycles… In the auto section of “l’Obs”, this is the first time that we have started an article talking about cycling. And for good reason ! In this bright beginning of September, around Lake Annecy and on the small mountainous roads of the region, cars are in the minority.

It seems that all lovers of the little queen – runner version of the Tour de France or family out for a ride – have met there. We will see if, in the midst of silent two-wheelers, the new Toyota Yaris hybrid that we are testing knows how to be discreet.

The interior of the vehicle is rather a pleasant surprise, with both a certain elegance and a good management of space. The 4e generation of the city car did not take a centimeter, unlike most “new generations” who are still getting fat. But we don’t feel cramped there. No fantasy – we are not in a manga – but a neat design.

Head-up display

If the dashboard is well designed, we deplore the size of the multimedia touch screen (7 or 8 inches depending on the model, against 10 for other brands). Too bad. But this defect is largely compensated by the head-up display – rare in this category of car – which can be discovered by switching on the ignition.

Comrade uninitiated, know that this technology, which embeds the main data (speed, limitation etc.) directly on the windshield, was developed for fighter pilots. Thus, they never take their eyes off their target. On the cow floor, this is one of the most formidable innovations in safety. The driver’s brain can in fact stay focused on the road, without wasting precious seconds constantly glancing at the meters or at the central screen.

On the east shore of Lake Annecy, behind a family on bikes, we are traveling at 24 km / h, as indicated by the head-up display on the windshield. (Claire Fleury / “L’Obs”)

In “the world after”, as they say now, the private car is one of the few closed spaces that can be shared without a mask. The other road users that we pass do not wear them either, but they are mostly helmets. Cyclists, more cyclists and a few bikers, on the sublime road which climbs to the Hermitage of Saint-Germain-sur-Talloires. On the departmental road (currently under construction) which runs along the east shore of Lake Annecy, motorists adjust to the speed of the bikes. And not all of them are … swift.

More zen thanks to hybridization

At least, by rolling at very small steps, we do not pollute, the Yaris naturally switching to electric at these speeds. As soon as we can accelerate (a little), it switches to thermal and recharges the batteries. Secondary advantage of hybridization: we are much more zen and patient behind the bicycles, because we take full advantage of the tranquility and silence.

A short break on the road to the Col de Leschaux.  (Claire Fleury /

A short break on the road to the Col de Leschaux. (Claire Fleury / “L’Obs”)

Along the western shore of the lake, cyclists are entitled to a track completely separate from the road. Good for them because the traffic is dense. A winter ski instructor / summer renovation contractor even tells us that in August, “It’s worse than in Paris”. Mazette! And even in September, the van drivers rush in whenever they can. Motorists wait more or less. We drive slowly, electrically, but the noise of other vehicles does not allow us to enjoy the silence of this mode of propulsion. We’re just happy not to make the pollution worse.

(Claire Fleury /

(Claire Fleury / “L’Obs”)

On the road to the Col de Leschaux, where you don’t meet anyone except a few very courageous cyclists, you can finally really test the new Yaris. We admire the cows, and we wonder if the car itself will be a little less calf. As the manufacturer claims, will it be a little more responsive than previous generations? Has the calf turned into a bull? We must not exaggerate, but the 4e generation is much more nervous. The laborious acceleration is over. The Japanese city car “made in France” – in Valenciennes – has taken the hair of the beast.

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