‘Alliance is a two-way street, not a one-way road’, especially when it comes to business. We have witnessed Toyota upscaling its sales chart with rebadged Maruti-Suzuki mass-market products. But now, Toyota has raised its stake by introducing much-needed eco-friendly, efficient hybrid technology in collaboration with Maruti Suzuki to compete in the rather busy mid-size SUV market, which is dominated by Koreans and now lately by Germans. The Creta and Seltos enjoy the monopoly of the viable VFM tag, and German twins- Kushaq and Taigun- appeal to the enthusiast community. Whereas, in the wake of sustainability, Toyota backs on its legacy of hybrid technology to build its foundation in the Indian market. How efficient is the Urban Cruiser Hyryder, and does it have it all to establish itself among tough competitors?

 2022 Urban Cruiser Hyryder: Efficiency over performance!

Toyota has brought its tried-and-tested 1.5-litre engine found in the internationally-sold Yaris hatchback. The engine running on an Atkinson Cycle produces 91 horses and 122 Nm of torque and is paired with an electric motor that produces 79hp and 141 Nm of torque. To read about an Atkinson cycle, click here.There are two motors, out of which one is a starter generator connected to the engine, and the other is connected to the transaxle that drives the wheel. The latter aids in regeneration during deceleration and supplements the engine with the additional required energy. 115 horsepower! Yes, that’s the total combined power output from the hybrid system. Agreed, on paper, it’s not an appreciable number, but the boost from the electric motor right from zero RPM compensates for the less power and torque from the engine. However, the acceleration is not brisk, which clearly reflects that the Toyota Hyryder is tuned toward fuel efficiency rather than performance.

A dedicated energy flow meter is displayed on the instrument cluster and on the infotainment screen showing how the motor and engine work in tandem to power the wheels. During deceleration, you can clearly notice the motor juicing up the 177V battery pack. And, of course, when pedalled spiritedly, the engine and motor work together to power the wheels. We encountered a fuel efficiency of 16-17kmpl with our spirited driving style.

The Urban Cruiser Hyryder comes with two driving modes in addition to the normal mode – Eco and Power. The modes are the derivatives of ECU mapping, and power modifies according to the change in modes. However, we didn’t find any significant difference whatsoever. Interestingly there is a dedicated EV mode, which drives the car up to 2-3km with a speed limit of around 30-40km. The EV mode will be activated only if the battery is charged more than 60 per cent. And as soon as the battery depletes more than 60 per cent, the hybrid mode is activated. Note- you need to be very gentle with the pedal to drive in the EV mode. Well, quite honestly, I found this mode to be a little gimmicky, and one would barely use it in the real world. There is also a ‘B’ mode on the gear lever, which not only assists with hill hold or hill assist but also maximizes regenerative braking. Wherein the electric motor changes its polarity and acts as a generator that charges up the battery by converting kinetic energy into electrical energy. The regenerative braking effect isn’t strong, and you must press the brake pedal to stop the vehicle completely.

Step on the gas, and you will notice the lively pickup, but it struggles to build up speed due to a lack of mid-range and high-end grunts. On top of that, the engine gets quite noisy and annoying. The three-cylinder engine isn’t refined, and the rubber-band effect makes driving quite sluggish. Plan overtakes cautiously, as the Hyryder doesn’t like to be driven enthusiastically. And as I already mentioned, drive it gently, and the car will bless you with praiseworthy fuel economy.

2022 Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder : Take me on a Road-trip!

The Urban Cruiser Hyryder gets the MacPherson struts in the front and a Torsion beam at the rear. The suspension is well-mannered, wherein you can feel the softness of the springs when going over the bad patches of the road. Spring rates and dampers are well-engineered to provide a comfortable experience. We also took the Hyryder through rough patches, though only for a shorter stretch, and it didn’t cause any sort of discomfort whatsoever. The Hyryder feels stable cruising at triple-digit speeds and manages to tackle the undulations pretty well.

The steering feel is responsive, and feedback is quite confidence-inspiring. The body roll is also minimal. The only drawback, though, is the self-centering of the steering wheel. It lacks uniformity and becomes a little jerky. While cruising at highway speed, the steering weighs out a bit, which further aids stability.

The Hyryder gets the ventilated disc at the front and the solid disc at the rear. The braking offers decent bite, but due to regeneration, the braking feedback is a little different. However, you get acclimatized to the feel and feedback of brakes quite effortlessly after initial impressions.

2022 Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder: Look at me!

Toyota has managed to keep the design language of the Hyryder quite minimalistic yet distinctive; perhaps that will lure the family-centric audience. On the front, it gets a rather different sporty element with a carbon fibre-like finish, with twin-LED DRLs infused beside it to give it a peculiar look. The LED projector headlamp is mounted on the lower portion of the bumper, which eliminates the need for extra housing for the fog lamps. Well, we haven’t driven it at night, so I would keep my judgment on the lamps’ effectiveness.

Toyota has managed to excel with its rivals in terms of dimensions. It is one of the longest in its class, with 4365mm in length. However, it is not the widest. It sits somewhere in the middle when it comes to width. However, the wheelbase of 2600mm is slightly less than its competitors. Looking from the sides, you won’t find any cuts and crises, but you will admire the big rear quarter glass and a chrome strip running across the window panels. The roof rails are non-functional, and black cladding runs across the length of the car, giving it a rugged look. The alloy wheels of 17-inch look decent and give the Hyryder a proportional stance.

The rear section is quite unique and elegant. It gets dual C-shaped LED tail lamps and a large thick chrome section running across the length of the tailgate. Just like the front, the reverse parking indicators and reflectors are mounted on the lower section of the rear bumper. All-in-all, the Hyryder SUV looks imposing and stylish, especially in this dual-tone blue-black colour.

2022 Urban Cruiser Hyryder: Welcome inside!

Once you are inside, you will notice the cabin layout is a little similar to the Maruti Suzuki cars. The steering and the AC unit seem to be borrowed from Baleno, and that’s not a bad thing. The physical AC controls are something more accessible and practical. The overall cabin layout feels solid and plush. The dark black and brown interiors look nice, and the soft-touch materials on the dashboard, along with smart chrome inserts, give it an upmarket appeal. Well, talking about an upmarket appeal, the dual-pane panoramic sunroof amplifies the overall experience inside the cabin.

The 9-inch infotainment system is well-positioned. However, it is a little tricky to operate. The brightness and the font on the screen are aptly sorted out. The significant welcome, though, is the first-in-class Heads-up Display, which gives all the necessary information in the vision of your eyesight. The instrument cluster is a little small and isn’t that appealing either. However, it manages to display a decent amount of information. The seats are comfortable and hug you well. Moreover, there are ventilated seats for the driver and the passenger, but the noise of the air circulation is pretty audible, which is something Toyota needs to work on.

The rear seats have plenty of space for the knees to accommodate and get a decent amount of headroom as well. Just like the front seats, the rear seats are well-cushioned and comfortable. However, the seats lack lateral support, and you tend to slide frequently during hard braking. The rear passengers are also given due importance with rear AC vents and two charging sockets. The boot space isn’t enough to accommodate more than two mid-size bags because the battery pack is mounted under the rear seats, which eats up the boot space marginally.

2022 Urban Cruiser Hyryder: Confusing Sensibility

Toyota aspires to position itself firmly with its first-in-class hybrid technology. The Hyryder is praiseworthy in all terms of its overall offerings. Agreed, it won’t be an enthusiastic choice, and the engine noise is prominent enough to dull out the driving experience. However, its high-speed stability, appealing interiors, distinctive looks and, more importantly- its efficient mile-munching capabilities make it a unique and future-proof proposition. The Honda City e:HEV being a sedan, does not appeal to the masses in general, especially in India. And that gives the Toyota Hyryder an early mover advantage with its SUVish character. More importantly, its viable all-around capabilities will undoubtedly appeal to the masses to transit toward future-proof mobility before complete electrification. But now it all depends on how Toyota manages to price the Hyryder. If launched competitively, it will give tough competition to its well-established rivals and eventually pave the way for a carbon-neutral future.