Toyota Auris Hybrid (2013-2019) review
|Car type||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions||0-62mph|
Toyota and its Japanese compatriot Honda were among the pioneers of hybrid power, and the Toyota Prius has become almost a household name. Toyota has also expanded its hybrid offering to encompass the Yaris supermini, C-HR and RAV4 SUVs, and this hybrid version of the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra-rivalling Auris, which was sold in the UK from 2013 until 2019, when it was replaced by the Corolla.
This review mainly discusses the car when new; you can also read our guide to buying this generation of Auris secondhand. The Auris name didn't trip off the tongue as easily as the names of its European rivals, though: the Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 308 and SEAT Leon all made it hard for Toyota to attract customers. However, while the Auris didn't exactly stand out from the crowd in terms of looks or image, its hybrid engine was unique in the family hatchback class when it was on sale.
While the Prius competes against the Hyundai Ioniq and the C-HR fights the Kia Niro for sales, the Auris Hybrid appealed to those who wanted a 'normal' family car with impressive fuel economy, without resorting to diesel power. It also promised zero-emissions motoring in urban areas – at low speeds and for very short distances, anyway.
That distance restriction is due to the Auris being a "self-charging" hybrid, with power supplied purely by the petrol engine and regenerative braking system. There's no facility for home charging – unlike the plug-in hybrid version of the Prius. The electric motor's main objective is to keep you mobile in stop-start traffic without using petrol, and to provide zero-emissions power when performing low-speed manoeuvres such as parking. This means those lucky drivers who rarely suffer congested roads might experience fuel consumption more akin to that of a regular petrol car.
The Auris uses a similar 1.8-litre petrol engine, electric motor and battery setup to the Prius, linked to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that effectively uses one, constantly changing gear to regulate road speed. This makes for an easy drive, but can also prove frustrating should the need arise for urgent acceleration. This is definitely a car for either fuss-free, urban motoring or long, relaxing motorway trips, rather than enthusiastic driving.
Those who make a lot of trips into town will benefit most from the electric motor and are most likely to realise the Toyota's lofty 72mpg fuel economy claim. Such users may also enjoy the no-nonsense nature of the Auris, and are certain to appreciate the generous standard equipment fitted to every model. There were four trim levels, each of which could be chosen in hybrid form, and the Icon Tech represented the best value for money when new.
As the second model in the pecking order, it added sat nav to a kit list that already included air-conditioning and a seven-inch infotainment display with DAB radio and a reversing camera. While its interior design does as little to stir the soul as the car's exterior styling, the Auris was extremely well assembled from materials that seem well suited to the rigours of daily life. It was no class-leader for interior space or load capacity, but the more versatile Skoda Octavia failed to offer a hybrid engine at the time.
Families, meanwhile, will be reassured by the standard Toyota Safety Sense package of autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure warning, automatic headlights and road-sign recognition. A five-star Euro NCAP crash-testing rating wins points, too, and Toyota's reputation for reliability was backed up by a five-year/100,000-mile warranty. Running costs should generally be low, although service intervals are only 10,000 miles apart.
While it's not what you'd call a compelling package, the Auris is still worth a look if you want a dependable, comfortable car that makes a minimal impact on urban pollution. Cars like the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In and Toyota's own Prius Plug-In offer greater all-electric range, but are also rather more expensive to buy.
For a more detailed look at the Toyota Auris hybrid, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.