Now, I'm not one to laugh at those less fortunate. But – if we're being totally honest with each other – I have found myself giggling, just a little, as Australia's petrol prices have soared ever skyward.
I'm not laughing at anyone in particular, of course. Nobody really saw this coming, and so it wasn't something you could prepare for. Although if you're still driving around in a Grand Cherokee Trackhawk that drinks like a sailor on shore leave then you've probably got no-one to blame but yourself.
I'm more smirking at the fact that, through some minor miracle, I find myself living with one of the most fuel-efficient ICE vehicles I've driven in eons at exactly the right time.
The Japanese giant's bite-sized SUV pairs a tiny petrol engine with small battery to lower fuel use. (image: Andrew Chesterton)
See, mine is a Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid, the Japanese giant's bite-sized SUV that pairs a tiny petrol engine with small battery to lower fuel use. I won't bore you with how hybrids work here. They've been around long enough now. But I will say this – they work.
Ours pairs a small 1.5-litre, three-cylinder engine – good for 67kW and 120Nm – with a two small electric motors (but only one big enough to deliver driving power) for a combined output of 85KW. It feeds that power through an occasionally loud CVT transmission, and then sends it on to all four wheels.
In my first four weeks with the Yaris Cross my fuel use has been just 5.3L/100km. And I don't want to give too much away too early here, but after that, the number just kept on dropping.
In my first four weeks with the Yaris Cross my fuel use has been just 5.3L/100km. (image: Andrew Chesterton)
That's still some way higher than Toyota's official claim, but to be fair to the Yaris Cross, our month behind the wheel was almost entirely in the city – never good for fuel use.
And to be honest, I was pretty happy with five-odd litres. But I'm even happier with the pint-sized fuel tank fitted to the Yaris Cross Hybrid, and the fact that it happily accepts the cheapest 91RON fuel.
Our Yaris Cross Hybrid is fitted with a 36-litre fuel tank, which means even when petrol prices were at their highest (for now, at least), a crisp $50 note was usually all that was required to take it from almost empty to full.
Based on the five-litres-per-hundred figure – and relying on my notoriously bad math skills – I can travel somewhere in excess of 700kms for that $50 investment. Not bad, hey?
The entire Yaris Cross Hybrid range is pretty well-equipped. (image: Andrew Chesterton)
That's the good. The bad? To take advantage of those fuel bowser savings you'll need to put your bank account through some upfront pain.
Our test car is the Yaris Cross Urban AWD, and it's not cheap. It sits atop the model tree (above the GXL and GX, offered in two- or four-wheel drive), and will set you back a considerable $37,990 before on-road costs. Drive-away? That's more like $42k.
Yes, it's the top of the tree, but the truth is entry to any model in the Yaris Cross Hybrid range will mean you have to find more than $30k to put one on the road. Even the cheapest GX 2WD is $28,990 before on-road costs, then its the GXL 2WD at $31,999, the GX AWD at $31,990, the Urban 2WD at $34,990, the GXL AWD at $34,990, and then our car.
Look, in this brave new world of car availability, things are expensive right across the manufacturer board (and if you really want to wince, check out the Yaris Cross' used prices on Autotrader), but for those of us old enough to remember when small cars were cheap, it's a bit of a price shock.
All models get a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with DAB+ digital radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. (image: Andrew Chesterton)
So what do you get for that investment?
To be fair, the entire Yaris Cross Hybrid range is pretty well-equipped. And, with an additional centre airbag and a five-star ANCAP rating, it's pretty safe, too.
All models get things like alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, a leather-accented steering wheel, single-zone climate control, a digital instrument cluster with a 4.2-inch information display, a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with DAB+ digital radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a six-speaker audio system.
Spring for the GXL and you'll find LED headlights and navigation, while our Urban builds on all that further with 18-inch alloys, very good heated front seats, an additional fast-charge USB port, a head-up display and an auto-opening boot.
So, cheap to run, less so to buy, and a very positive first-month experience. But some questions remain. It's small, but is it too small? How does it handle longer-distance trips? And, critically, what will Poppy the corgi think?
All this and more on the next episode...
Cheap to run, less so to buy, and a very positive first-month experience. (image: Andrew Chesterton)
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication. Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.