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It’s not easy being green – Toyota Auris Hybrid

Toyota, probably the worlds most sensible car company has put its problems behind them; sales in the US are returning to normal and they are number one in  a host of  markets  around the world. In Europe, however the story is quite different and they face increasing pressure from rivals as diverse as Volkswagen to Kia. In response they have a host of new products in the pipeline including 10 new hybrids by 2015.

The current Auris is classic Toyota, aimed at middle of the road drivers concerned with reliability and low running costs. In a sector dominated by such good cars like the Ford Focus, Opel Astra, VW Golf, driving excitement is not high on the agenda for the Auris buyers.  Unlike its competitors though Toyota offer a hybrid in their hatchback range and  the Auris Hybrid, a mainstream alternative to its Prius  gives the Auris a much needed boast.

 

Test Car
Our test car the Auris Hybrid, uses a repackaged version of the Prius’s eco-friendly engine fitted to the standard hatchback. Like the Prius, the Auris combines a conventional engine with an electric motor. The only significant difference between the standard Auris and the Hybrid one is a discrete hybrid logo on the front wing or the HSD (hybrid synergy drive) one on the boot.

 

On the Road
The ride is smooth  but uninspiring. In the city it creeps along in electric-only mode.   On the motorway the electric motor and petrol engine blend in to provide adequate acceleration but it is a refined engine and one at least that you know will be ultra reliable. It uses CVT (constant variable transmission), on the road it is at best irritating and at worst infuriating as it is extremely slow to respond and takes an incredible amount of time to build momentum.

On the road you can select between ‘EV’, ‘Eco’ and ‘Power’ drive modes;  the default normal mode EV(Electric Vehicle) uses electric power only and  operates up to a speed of 45km/h and a distance up to 2km so it is suitable for city driving. The other two modes depend on what your style of driving is, the Eco mode is the best for maximum fuel efficiency but the power mode will give the best accelerator response  of the three.

 

Economy
The hybrid engines offer low emissions and high fuel economy. The Auris returns 4.0 litres per 100 km with CO2 levels of 93g/km and therefore qualifies for the lowest annual motor tax rate. The journey from 0-100 km takes about  11.4 seconds, but driving at speed isn’t really this car’s strong points.

Interior
Inside the Auris is typical of Toyota and houses a range of dark grey plastics that while durable make the interior a sedate even austere place. It is however  practical, versatile and there’s plenty of space with room for five adults, plus rear seats that split and fold. Boot space is limited to 354 litres due to the fact that the battery resides in the back of the car.  Space  does increases to 761 litres with the seats down.

 

Verdict:
The Auris’s  green credentials are predictably impressive with combined fuel economy of  - 4.0 litres per 100km  or  70.6mpg  and emissions at 93g/km.  The standard Hybrid  is priced €25,425 and with the luxury option as tested it rises to  €27,885. The problem for anyone interested in a hybrid is that there is no greater public demonstration of your green conscience than owning a Prius. Priced at €29,525 the Prius while more expensive is better overall value. Alternatively for those want to feel good about themselves but need a decent performer the Lexus CT300 or the Honda CRZ is hard to beat. For the rest of us an economical diesel car is still the better option

 

Competitors:  Lexus CT200h, Nissan Leaf electric, Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 , Honda CRZ

Why you’ll buy one? Impressive fuel economy; good value for money.

Why you won’t? Drab interior; small boot ; poor ride quality,

Last Word:  Despite the growing number of electric motors  hybrids still remain the number one choice of the green motorist and the original Toyota Pruis still  the one to choose.

 

Toyota Auris Hybrid

 

Factfile

Engine 1,798cc four-cylinder Atkinson cycle petrol engine putting out 99bhp @ 5,200rpm and 142Nm of torque @ 4,000rpm and a 82bhp electric motor. Combined output is 136bhp

Max speed   180km/h
0-100km/h  11.4 seconds
Emissions (motor tax)  93 g/km €160
Starting price  €25,425 (test car €27,885)
Model price range 25,425 - 27,885
No of Doors: 5
Euro NCAP: 5
Fuel type:  Petrol
Fuel Economy:  4.0 litres per 100km (Combined Cycle)
Boot Capacity Seats up : 354

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