THE JACKED-UP version of the Toyota Yaris makes for a likeable compact crossover, taking its namesake to new heights – literally.

It looks good, is easy to drive and is pleasingly economical. The Yaris Cross is also a mix of two things Toyota is good at - hybrid cars and SUVs.

As you’d expect, it has plenty in common with the standard Yaris in terms of shared body parts, but is higher, longer and wider.

There is just one engine option – a 1.5-litre three-cylinder naturally-aspirated petrol unit mated to an electric motor, producing 116hp and 120Nm of torque.

Northwich Guardian: The Yaris Cross

During a week in its company, I had ample chance to test the Yaris Cross in a range of environments, not least during a weekend family outing from Yorkshire to London.

Heading down the M1, the adaptive cruise control and lane assistance technology worked a treat, making for a fairly relaxing four-hour stint behind the wheel.

While hoovering up those motorway miles, the Yaris Cross averaged a very impressive 52.1mpg.

With comfortable seats, a good range of adjustment and a cabin well insulated from tyre and wind noise, we arrived in the capital still feeling fairly refreshed.

In London’s busy and varied streets, I came to appreciate the lofty driving position which offered an elevated view of any chaos unfolding ahead.

The steering was light and responsive, allowing me to manoeuvre the vehicle easily in the heavier traffic. As good as it had been on the motorway, it felt most at home in this urban environment. In such conditions, you can drive the Yaris Cross using either electric energy or a combination of both petrol and electric power. Of course, you’ll need to be fairly light on the accelerator for the combustion engine not to kick in.

For further ease of use, every version of the Yaris Cross also comes with a reversing camera.

Northwich Guardian: Yaris Cross

Back on the B-roads of rural Yorkshire later in the week, the Yaris Cross was surprisingly good fun and engaging to drive, with plenty of grip.

There’s not too much body roll to be aware of, but the suspension can be a bit fidgety over undulating roads when driving swiftly.

The 1.5-litre engine seems to be a sensible choice for a car of this size, providing a balance between acceptable acceleration and superb fuel economy.

The interior proved spacious enough for two adults and two children on the lengthy journey south. Rear seat space isn’t as good as some rivals, so three in the back would be a real squeeze, especially for the middle person.

Headroom is decent enough though, as people over six foot should be comfy enough in the back.

However, the rear passenger doors really don’t open far enough to make getting in and out an easy process. When I got in to try it out for size, I had to pour myself through the narrow gap in a way that was, to say the least, not very graceful.

The 397-litre boot is a decent size and was adequate for our overnight bags, but is still smaller than some key competitors.

The cabin feels well put-together, with a simple layout that’s robust and offers decent storage for oddments.

There are some softer-touch materials on the dash and nice fabrics on the doors, although you don’t need to look far to find some harder, scratchier plastics.

Northwich Guardian: The Yaris Cross is pictured near Meltham in West Yorkshire (left) and near Hope in Derbyshire (top left)

You get a bright digital driver display as standard, while there’s eight-inch touchscreen entertainment screen on lower spec models and a nine-inch screen on higher spec levels.

It’s user-friendly in most respects, although the graphics are a bit uninspiring and it occasionally lags.

In terms of looks, the heavily sculpted bodywork lends the car some purpose and road presence, while the black side skirts and roofbars add a tougher and more robust vibe.

In conclusion, it’s hard to criticise the car’s looks, fuel economy and everyday usability. A bit more space wouldn’t go amiss in some respects, but you have to remember that the Yaris Cross is billed as a ‘compact’ SUV.

Toyota Yaris Cross

TRIM: Premiere Edition

ENGINE: 1.5-litre petrol hybrid

MAX SPEED:106 mph

0-62MPH: 11.2 secs

TRANSMISSION: CVT automatic FWD

PRICE:£28,185

ECONOMY: 54.6 - 57.6mpg combined

EMISSIONS: 100 - 117g/km