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Ford Puma against Toyota Yaris Cross and VW Taigo in the test

Now the bravest of all small cars has also succumbed to the pursuit of gentle adventure: the Toyota Yaris Hybrid. As a cross, it rigs up a competitor for the established Ford Puma and the new VW Taigo with mild boldness and lush dimensions.

If you think about it carefully, the unexpected rarely rumbles into life to take us by surprise. Rather, the foreseeable can always surprise us. Like the need for an umbrella – when was it not left at home when rain was forecast, how often was it carried around when the sun was shining? – we tend to misjudge our automobility. So we arm ourselves with SUVs in case the A 8 runs out of asphalt behind Adelz-/Odelzhausen. Which happens quite rarely than that we get tangled up with the chunk in a parking garage. Or we fail to stuff a shelf into the sports car, which we also drive because behind the wheel at the tender age of 44 you could be noticed by a talent scout roaming the Schloßstraße as a future Formula 1 world champion.

What's that supposed to mean now? Get in the mood – for the comparison test between the new Toyota Yaris Cross, the newly launched VW Taigo and the Ford Puma. The three gently rigged small cars are among the smartest cars of all in real everyday life, they are economical, cheap and safe. Do they also have unpredictable talents? Let's clarify in the test.

Ford: Puma cum laude?

The Puma's deepest talent? He drives you crazy. An apple tree or a fir tree - at least as long as these trees are not more than 115 cm tall. Then they fit upright in the Ford, the trunk of which has a basement for the catacomb-like mega box and drain. But the 4.19 meter short Puma has even more to offer - although an extensive space is not one of them. For undiminished joy of travel on the short, steep-backed rear seat, it is advantageous for passengers to have growth that ends early and/or an intense desire for physical proximity to one another. The Ford accommodates pilot and co on small, well-formed seats without spoiling them with plenty of space.

Spaciousness, on the other hand, is cultivated by the sorting of the buttons, which are arranged between the front seats - for example for the driving modes that have a rather inconspicuous effect. The majority of the operation is to be organized with fidgety steering wheel buttons in the on-board computer or to approach it on the clearly structured touchscreen. Considering that there isn't a lot to serve, it keeps you busy.

You can also keep yourself busy – and entertained – while driving. He draws even banal short distances into a big break. Its precise, responsive steering responds sleekly; it bends resolutely in curves, swinging its rear slightly when there is a change in load – so gently that it encourages, not frightens. Then back on the gas.The small one-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine is already boldly drumming up the thousands of revolutions again.

Strong drive, tight chassis

It's been around for a decade, hasn't lost any of its temperament in the meantime, but has gained efficiency and power in addition to many international awards for its brilliance. Finally, the technicians set up a mild hybrid system for him.

Since its belt starter, powered by the 10 Ah 48 volt lithium-ion battery, overboosts the boost pressure slack when starting with 50 Nm, the technicians can whirl up a larger turbo. This gives the Puma a busy temperament with still reasonable efficiency (6.9 l/100 km in the test) - despite the seven-speed double clutch box, which can be messed with neither by paddles nor a manual lane in its reeling off and the dreamy gear changing.

The chassis could be more prudent when it comes to comfort. Compared to the Fiesta, the rear twist-beam suspension, which is stiffer, larger shock absorbers and stiffer bearings keep body movement, body roll and suspension capacity within tight limits. The Puma stumbles over short bumps in particular, but it copes with long waves more carefully. Let's see if he gets a green branch here with the lower price.

Toyota: Yaris best performance?

The Yaris, on the other hand, is thriving - and by that we don't just mean that, like other Toyota hybrids, it lets virtual leaves sprout in the instrument display when the driver successfully tries to improve efficiency. But its transformation from the hiccuped small car to the city SUV. Although we have trusted the Toyotas to do everything since they came around the corner with the GR Yaris in autumn 2020 - transversely and with countersteering such as accelerating at the stop. Any more useless knowledge about the GR Yaris? Gern: The technicians only took over seven body parts for him, listing every headlight, every exterior mirror and every tail light individually in addition to the roof aerial.

The Cross is also completely different from the normal Yaris. It is also based on Toyota's global small car platform, but is 9.5 cm higher, 2.0 cm wider and 24 cm longer - with the same wheelbase. That's why it's no less cramped when traveling on the barely formed back seat. After all, the Cross offers a third more trunk volume with 397 liters, which can be cleverly expanded with the three-part folding rear seat backrest.

Pilot and Co sit six centimeters higher, but not very comfortably on weakly shaped seats, whose coarse backrest adjustment is just as annoying as the low back support. Toyota arranges the operation up to the somewhat cumbersome setting of the wide, standard assistance via steering wheel buttons catchy, but like the whole interior in an unadorned way that even surpasses that of the Ford.This is also due to the lightweight construction ambitions of the technicians, who fitted thin metal sheets to the Cross over the bodyshell, which was reinforced with a ring structure. Since the noise insulation was not given much weight, the changeable drive of the drive combo can be followed in all its sound power.

Hybrid drive as an efficiency miracle

Because there we have: a 1500 three-cylinder naturally aspirated engine, 92 hp and 120 Nm powerful, which according to Toyota also achieves an efficiency of 40 percent due to the Atkinson principle and high compression. An electric motor with 59 kW and 141 Nm supports it in its moderate drive efforts - but only if the 27 kg light 800 Wh lithium-ion battery has collected enough energy for boosting via recuperation. With a light load and up to 130 km/h, the E-Werk can keep the car moving on its own for a short time. In the city, the back and forth of the drives works seamlessly. Over country and on the highway, the needy, matte three-cylinder engine often has to do it alone, which it always homogeneously, but never quite convincingly manages - also because the gearbox (planetary gear set) allows it to rev up so high. Only the efficiency is really cheerful (5.8 l/100 km in the test).

Cheerfulness? Doesn't trigger the handling so directly. The Yaris shoves into unambitious understeer early on, its steering is unmotivated in terms of both precision and feedback. This means that the Cross drives safely, but feels unsteady and imprecise when driving faster. Even the tight chassis tuning does not inspire agility in handling. After all, it reduces the body movements, but even more so the comfort. With 18-inch wheels, the Yaris rolls off harshly, and the suspension responds unduly roughly to short bumps.

The price also seems unreasonable at first, but this is put into perspective by the extensive standard equipment. Let's see if the Yaris has drawn the crosse lot.

VW: Taigo, -go, -go, -go?

And now to the old VW Passat. Because in order to clarify the true format of the Taigo, we have to go back to 1988. At that time, VW brought the first Passat with a transverse engine, the B3, well known as the coati, which evolved into the B4 in 1993 and was the space miracle of the middle class until its replacement in 1997 applies, with 72 cm of standard seating space in the rear and 465 liters of luggage space (variant!).

Now: drum roll, Chingderassabum, Taigo enters under confetti rain, because he has 71 cm standard seat and 440 l trunk - with a good 30 cm less length than the Passat used to be. What is a nice example of real progress relevant to everyday life, as well as for the space efficiency of VW's small transverse module bottom MQB A0.

The above was developed by VW's Brazilian branch - an SUV coupé called Nivus, which has now been Europeanized into the Taigo to compete here as a souped-up version of the T-Cross - 16 cm longer and 9 cm lower.In addition to the current assistance protection, there is also the matrix LED light and a colorful interior. Even that doesn't look quite as high-quality as one is used to from VW. Nevertheless, the Taigo is ahead of the other two in terms of material selection. However, its advantage in terms of space is significantly greater. In the rear, two - and sometimes three - adults can be accommodated well on the thickly padded back seat. VW sets up the cockpit with large, strong and long-distance comfortable seats. A Golf doesn't accommodate its passengers much comfortably either. However, the handling of its crew hardly makes it any more difficult than the Taigo, since the small VW have also adopted the current operating structure - including nested infotainment and feedback-free touch buttons for climate control.

Successful overall package

Which, however, would have already covered everything that there is to criticize about the Taigo. Otherwise he is a small car of great format. This is particularly evident in the comfort. With the gently tightened set-up, the suspension only responds a little harshly on short, rough bumps, and carefully puts away less nasty hits as well as long waves. Despite the careful tuning, the Taigo also has it when it comes to handling.

The Puma likes to stage the curves more dramatically with its sharper steering and load changes. In the driving dynamics tests of slalom and lane changes, however, the Taigo is significantly faster and much more confident on country roads. Its steering speaks a little more cautiously, but no less precisely and with clear feedback. Load changes don't even make him flinch, he pushes himself out of the curve with the XDS differential lock simulated by brake intervention and with the homogeneous power of his eager three-cylinder again.

The VW is the only one that doesn't have the support of an electric motor, with the cultivated one-liter direct injection engine and the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission shifting with perfect timing driving the 1253 kg light Taigo spiritedly despite the lowest overall performance. However, in the test consumption of 7.2 l/100 km it is 0.3 l/100 km above the faster Ford and even 1.4 l/100 km above the Yaris.

In addition, the VW only gets 555 km on one tank because it has such a small tank like the other two. But that's particularly annoying with the Taigo, because otherwise it really is a talented long-distance car - and here it's the winner. With his qualities, he can easily compensate for his sparse equipment compared to the festively decorated Yaris. The fact that such a fully-fledged small car, oh dear, should cost almost 30,000 euros is entirely justified and was even to be expected - and that makes us all the more surprising.


1.VW Taigo 1.0 TSI 587 points

With the best sizes: So much comfort, safety and space is only available one size larger in compacts. Cheerful handling, lively drive, but operating circumstances and sparse equipment.

2. Ford Puma 1.0 EcoBoost 564 points

With best regards: gripping handling and busy engine, but harsh comfort and tight space. The Puma does not outgrow its format, but is small, practical and inexpensive.

3. Toyota Yaris Cross 1.5 VVT-iE Hybrid 549 points

With the best cruising: it's better to take it easy, driving in the very economical but temperamentally dull hybrid. Extensive assistance, but harsh suspension and high price.


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