Toyota Auris Hybrid

Eco-minded driving, without making an eco-statement

A Toyota Prius says a lot about its driver. Many of them are good things: the driver is likely to be someonewho cares about the planet and is unafraid of new technology. Some, though, might find the green halo of eco-virtuousness a tiresome statement of outlook, a message too concerned with the means rather than the end. What thesepeople need, who like the idea of a hybrid but don’t want to come over all Friends of the Earth, is a normal-looking car with hybrid innards. All the advantages, none of the image baggage.

Several carmakers have promised such hybrids, but none has actually produced a mainstream hybrid hatchback, until now. Toyota, again, is the manufacturer. Its new Auris Hybrid, built in theUK(and nowhere else), uses Prius mechanicals and electricals all wrapped up in a package that looks almost exactly like a regular Auris, apart froma fractionally lower ride height, a different front grille and some blue-tinged badges.

Diesels used to be on the fringe, but are now entirely normal, mainstream and unremarkable. This Auris is the first step towards doing the same thing for hybrids.

Somefigures. The attention-grabbing one is the paltry 89g/km of CO2 this Auris generates on the official fuel-test cycle, if you choose the smaller, 15in wheel option. Go for the vanity of racier-looking 17in wheels, and this rises to 93g/km, still comfortably within the realms of free road tax.

Then there’s the prediction that40 per cent of Auris sales will be of the hybrid version, though this is partly a clue that the regular Auris has hardly been a storming sales phenomenon. But perhaps most interesting of all: the Auris Hybrid is 25kg lighter than the Auris 2.0-litre diesel, despite adding an 80bhp electric motor and a nickel-metal hydride battery to its mass. That said, together these additions do make the Hybrid 105kg heavier than the 1.8-litre petrol Auris.

The whole Auris range recently had a mild makeover, and the Hybrid conforms to this, apart from having unique suspension settings. The Hybrid also helped to further improve the regular car, as prototype examples, showed uprattles and resonances normally masked by engine noise. The Auris’s aural disturbances were duly hunted down and eradicated.

Tempting, especially when you realise the Auris, from £18,950, is no more expensive than conventional 2.0-litre, dieselrivals, as well as potentially much cheaper to run, both in fuel usage and in taxation. Nor need the presence of the electrical parts be much of a worry regarding future unplanned expense, because the hybrid power train has so far triggered minimal warranty claims and the battery has an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty.

So, where’s the catch? There appears not to be one. The boot is slightly smaller as the battery encroaches. Theperformance isn’t as lively as that of rival diesels, but it’s brisk enough. The continuously variable transmission can make the engine revs soar too easily when you want vigorous acceleration, which can be annoying, but you learn to drive around that trait. Braking smoothly to a stop takes some practice, too, as you adapt to how the Auris blends its energy-recovering, electrical braking with physical retardation from the brake discs.

Against that, the Auris steers and corners tidily, is comfortable enough over bumps, and quiet if you can keep the engine at mid-speed or below.

The dials include typical hybrid information, such as how parsimonious or profligate you are being with energy sources and a moving graphic showing the energy flow between engine, motor, battery and wheels. This is a mean little diagram compared with the two-layered display of crisply presented cleverness in the Prius, but it makes the point that the Auris Hybrid is a means to an economical end, not an eco-statement in itself.

Crucially, that economical end is on offer all the time, not just in an official economy test. On a brisk drive through some sweeping, hilly roads, I saw an average of 62mpg, which was the moment when the Auris Hybrid made perfect sense. Would I have one?

I do believe I would.


Ford Focus ECOnetic:

£20,427,109bhp, 99g/km.

The stop-start, rougher and cruder than the hybrids’ engine reawakening, is key to this Focus’s road-tax-free status. Good but dear.

Honda Insight 1.3 ES-T:

£19,303, 87bhp, 105g/km.

Top-spec Insight is well-equipped, but hybrid has a less powerful motor. Transmission is CVT like Auris’s, styling is mini-Prius.

Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI BlueMotionTech:

£19,195, 105bhp, 107g/km.

High-economy features, including stop-start, make a frugal Golf. Good, but doesn’t go the whole way.

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
Clarke Carlisle
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
David Hasselhof in Peter Pan
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Regulatory / Compliance / Exeter

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - 12 Month Fixed Term - Shrewsbury

    £17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...

    The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Planner

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...

    The Jenrick Group: World Wide PLC Service Engineer

    £30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'