Toyota Auris Hybrid review
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Toyota and its Japanese compatriot Honda were among the pioneers of hybrid power, and the Toyota Prius has become almost a household name. No longer is hybrid power reserved to that model, though – Toyota offers a supermini Yaris Hybrid, electrified versions of the C-HR and RAV4 SUVs, and this, a hybrid version of the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra-rivalling Auris.
The Auris name doesn't trip off the tongue as easily as the names of its European rivals, though, and the Volkswagen Golf, Peugeot 308 and SEAT Leon all make it hard for Toyota to attract customers. However, while the Auris doesn't exactly stand out from the crowd in terms of looks or image, its hybrid engine remains unique in the family hatchback class.
While the Toyota Prius competes against the Hyundai Ioniq and the Toyota C-HR fights the Kia Niro for sales, the Auris Hybrid appeals to those who want a 'normal' family car with impressive fuel economy, without resorting to diesel power. It also promises true zero-emissions motoring in urban areas – for very short distances, anyway.
That distance restriction is due to this being a 'self-charging' hybrid, with power supplied purely by the car's 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 manoeuvers such as parking. This means those lucky drivers who rarely suffer at the hands of 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 Toyota's lofty 72.4mpg fuel economy claim, although any company-car user will benefit from a 19% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) figure that no diesel rival can match, thanks to low 91g/km CO2 emissions.
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 are four trim levels, each of which can be chosen in hybrid form, and the Icon Tech represents the best value for money of all.
As the second model in the pecking order, it adds sat nav to a kit list that already includes 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 is extremely well assembled from materials that seem well suited to the rigours of daily life. It's no class-leader for interior space or load capacity, but the more versatile Skoda Octavia fails to offer a hybrid engine.
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 rating wins points, too, and Toyota's reputation for reliability is 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.