- Driving the Urban Cruiser Hyryder 1.5L Hybrid
- Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
- Mileage & Fuel economy
- Ride Comfort
- Handling & Dynamics
At low speeds, inside the city, the Hyryder is quite peppy to drive. The electric torque really helps in closing gaps to the cars in front and makes the Hyryder an absolute breeze to drive in traffic.
Driving the Urban Cruiser Hyryder 1.5L Hybrid
Toyota’s focus was on the hybrid. Hence, it had only that engine option for us to drive. The hybrid powertrain consists of a 3-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine with an output of 91 BHP @ 5,500 rpm and 122 Nm @ 4,400 rpm. This petrol engine is coupled with an electric motor that puts out 79 BHP and 141 Nm. The combined power output available at the wheels is 114 BHP. The figures aren’t impressive when compared to the turbo petrol engines used by the Koreans and Europeans and that is reflected out on the road as well. The USP of the hybrid is fuel efficiency and not performance. There is a 0.76 kWh battery in the boot that powers the electric motors and is responsible for the drive to the wheels in hybrid mode. The battery specifications are very similar to the Honda City Hybrid, which means you can’t really use the Hyryder in EV mode for more than a couple of minutes before the internal combustion engine kicks in to assist. Surprisingly, the Hyryder uses a Li-ion battery vs the Camry which gets a Ni-Mh unit. Li-ion batteries are superior and have a longer life than Ni-Mh batteries.
The Hyryder, unlike the City Hybrid, uses a more conventional hybrid system using a power split device as well as an e-CVT transmission that combines the power from the petrol and electric motors. There is no clever drive lock system like in the City here. As a result, the Hyryder feels like a regular CVT to drive with some correlation between speed and engine rpm.
Keep your foot on the brake and press the blue power button and all you get is a ready symbol on the dash telling you the car is “on”. Since it usually starts in EV mode, the internal combustion engine never comes on at idle. You can start off in EV mode in your driveway. It’s only when the battery state of charge goes below the threshold that the internal combustion engine comes on to charge the battery. Drive with a light foot and you will hear the petrol engine coming on just to charge the battery and switch off once the battery is charged. At low speeds, inside the city, the Hyryder is quite peppy to drive. The electric torque really helps in closing gaps to the cars in front and makes the Hyryder an absolute breeze to drive in traffic. The petrol engine keeps coming on and off discretely and seamlessly. The only time you will hear the petrol engine rev up is if you drive aggressively. Drive with a heavy foot and you will hear more of the petrol engine as it is used not just to charge the battery, but to also send combined power to the wheels. Within the city, the combination of electric motor and e-CVT results in one of the smoothest drive experiences you can imagine. It feels at home pottering around town and you never get tired even when stuck in traffic.
Out on the highway, things are a little different. You cannot just mash the throttle expecting instant response. Overtaking needs planning and momentum is the name of the game. Progress up to 100-110 km/h is brisk and you will find the Hyryder is able to cruise at triple-digit speeds fairly comfortably. After crossing 110 km/h though, the Hyryder begins to run out of steam. The petrol engine gets more vocal and stays on to provide the power needed. This impacts fuel efficiency. The Hyryder can cruise comfortably once at speed but doesn’t like bursts of acceleration for quick overtakes. This car is not for enthusiastic drivers. It’s for sedate drivers who love to cruise at 90-100 km/h. Drive sedately and you will be rewarded with a smooth drive experience coupled with excellent efficiency.
The Hyryder gets drive modes that basically alter the throttle response as well as the behaviour of the internal combustion engine. There is a dedicated EV mode button that will let you drive the Hyryder as an EV for the max distance possible. However, if you are heavy on the throttle or the car crosses ~40 km/h or the battery’s state of charge is too low, the system will go back from EV mode to hybrid mode. It’s basically useful if you want to take the car to drop the kids off at their school bus pick-up point near your house.
Apart from the EV mode, there are 3 drive modes, Normal, Eco and Power. These 3 modes alter the throttle response.
The normal mode is the default mode which is right in the middle of Eco and Power modes. It works best in town and offers the ideal compromise between efficiency and performance. In fact, you really don’t need to change it unless you’re driving uphill or on undivided highways.
In Eco mode, the internal combustion engine doesn’t come on as easily unless you press the throttle a lot more. The response is lazier and it tries to keep it in hybrid mode with the internal combustion engine only charging the battery and not sending power to the wheels unless the accelerator is pressed very firmly.
In Power mode, it’s the opposite. Even with a light dab of the throttle, the internal combustion motor comes alive and assists the power delivery. On undivided highways, this is the mode to use to pull off safe overtakes. Throttle response is much sharper and you rarely see the internal combustion engine turning off. Of course, this mode impacts fuel efficiency the most. We used this mode to climb up Nandi hills as the car really struggled to climb up in the other modes.
You also get a “B” mode which is engaged via the gear shifter. This mode provides maximum regen braking. It is very useful when going downhill as it charges up the battery within a few minutes and you can also use this when slowing down while approaching a red light. You can drive in “B” mode to get maximum engine braking.
Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
The Hyryder’s NVH levels were a bit of a surprise. While the Hyryder did a good job of isolating road noise and outside traffic noise, the powertrain is not like the quiet and serene hybrids we have seen in the Camry or even the City. The 1.5L engine is a 3-cylinder motor and whenever it is turned on, you can feel it in the cabin. When you press the throttle, the 3-cylinder thrum is always audible in the cabin. It’s not a refined sporty growl like a 4-pot motor. If the car is idling for long and the battery level drops too low, the petrol motor comes on and the whole cabin initially vibrates like an Alto! This was very apparent and Toyota really needs to improve the NVH levels of this powertrain. We didn’t get to drive the mild hybrid, but I strongly believe that it will have better NVH levels than this strong hybrid.
Other than that, you also get different whines inside the cabin from the electric components. When accelerating, there is a high-pitched whine from the electric motor, which is faintly audible. When you apply the brakes, you can hear the regen whine which is common in hybrids. However, one very irritating sound was a 3-second whine, which would keep coming on and off. This was heard when the traffic around was lesser. The sound was traced down to the electric vacuum pump for the mechanical brakes. Since this is a hybrid powertrain, the petrol engine keeps turning on and off. The vacuum system for the brakes is electric vs hydraulic in other cars. This vacuum pump makes a loud whine when it comes on.
What’s good, is that road noise and suspension noise are well contained and overall NVH levels aren’t too bad, especially for the rear passengers. It’s only the front passenger and driver who will notice these whines from the powertrain.
Mileage & Fuel economy
The highlight and the biggest USP of the Hyryder hybrid have to be its fuel efficiency. Inside the city, with a normal driving style that isn’t too aggressive, you will comfortably see close to 20 km/l and maybe even more. We drove through some small towns and were able to extract 22 km/l from the Hyryder without trying too hard. The more you use the car in slow moving traffic the better FE you get. The highway is where the FE drops below 20 km/l and when driving uphill, you can see as low as 12 km/l.
For urban commutes, you can easily get a range of 800 km+ range on a full tank. In fact, we drove the Hyryder for close to 2 hours with a lot of idling and a lot of unwanted acceleration, but the fuel gauge never went down and remained at the full level for more than 120 km of driving within town.
The hybrid competes with diesel on running costs and beats it in town. If you drive with the energy flow diagram displayed on the screen, you can actually adapt to driving a hybrid and extract even more FE from it. The trick is to keep the orange IC engine from coming on as much as possible. Throttle input needs to be measured and you will easily see 24-25 km/l on the MID.
Enough space in the engine bay to access everything. Also, the paint quality inside is as good as the outside. Hidden areas in other cars, especially Marutis, aren’t as well done usually:
No engine cover to hide all the cables and pipes. Gives the engine bay quite an ungainly appearance when you open the bonnet:
Thick insulation is provided to improve NVH:
This metal cylinder is the electric vacuum pump for the braking system. You can constantly hear a 3-second whine inside the cabin whenever it turns on:
There are 2 separate coolant circuits. The one with the green cap is the coolant circuit for the hybrid battery and power control unit:
The other coolant circuit is for the petrol engine:
Notice the A/C compressor with the high voltage symbol. Being a hybrid, the A/C compressor is an electric unit and not operated by the engine belt conventionally:
Standard 12V battery is for the accessories. In the Camry, this battery is placed in the boot. But with the smaller 3-cylinder engine, Toyota has been able to pack it in the engine bay itself:
Toyota clearly mentions the position of the batteries. It also claims that the A/C oil (ND-Oil 11) is a superior grade oil to the more commonly used grade Oil 8:
Hybrid battery is rated at 0.76 kWh – almost the same as that on the Honda City Hybrid:
Hybrid battery is a Li-Ion unit, unlike the Camry that runs on a nickel-metal hydride battery:
The Hyryder gets a fairly simple suspension setup with MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear. The suspension is well-tuned. At slow speeds, there is a hint of underlying firmness. This is probably more to do with the 17″ rims than the suspension tuning. At medium speeds, the Hyryder irons out all imperfections and even if you miss spotting a pothole doesn’t result in the shock getting transmitted into the cabin. Overall ride comfort at slow speeds is pliant, but not plush.
The firmer setup works well out on the highway. The Hyryder doesn’t have vertical movement and handles bad sections of road thrown at it with aplomb. The firmness at slow speeds translates to a stable ride at higher speeds.
Handling & Dynamics
The surprise of the package was the driving dynamics of the Hyryder. High speed stability is very good. To test the handling, we took it up Nandi hills and were pleasantly surprised. I was amazed how easy it was to maintain the line through fast sweeping turns up Nandi hills. It was easy to throw the car into hairpin bends and exit them without running wide. The Hyryder’s handling was a surprising revelation. The sad thing was that while climbing uphill, the engine was the limiting factor as it was unable to keep up with the chassis. With the performance on tap, you won’t really reach anywhere close to the handling limits of the Hyryder.
The steering of the Hyryder is also well calibrated. It isn’t super light like Maruti cars. There is some amount of weight to it even though it is devoid of feedback. It also self-centers. The steering is well-tuned at slow speeds with some weight and gets heavier as the speed goes up. When pushing it through a series of turns, it has a sharp turn in. It’s not vague and doesn’t require mid corner corrections to maintain a line.
Being a hybrid, braking is different compared to conventional cars. Firstly, the Hyryder uses regen braking to recover energy to charge the battery. Secondly, the vacuum booster is electric and doesn’t use the pedal and engine like normal braking systems. With disc brakes all-round, braking is good, but needs time to get used to. It’s difficult to get a linear braking response. Sometimes you hit a speed breaker a tad faster than you intended to since the braking isn’t linear. This needs getting used to. It will catch you off guard initially, but after a while, you get accustomed to it and change your braking style accordingly.
Continue reading the discussion on the Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder on our forum.