Toyota Auris helping hybrid revolution gain momentum

PUBLISHED: 16:34 04 November 2015 | UPDATED: 16:34 04 November 2015

Facelifted Toyota Auris has more presence and an upgraded interior while the popular green hybrid models add to the feelgood factor.

Facelifted Toyota Auris has more presence and an upgraded interior while the popular green hybrid models add to the feelgood factor.


People are likely to see petrol hybrids in a new light with emissions hitting the headlines. And getting the full benefits is likely to make you a more measured, careful driver, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Clean thinking

I might have found a simple answer to the ‘Dieselgate’ emissions scandal and aggressive fast driving in one package – petrol hybrid.

Rather simplistic I know, but Toyota and luxury arm Lexus have been banging on for years that one day people will wake up to the dangers of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and not just worry about carbon dioxide (CO2). Thanks to Volkwagen that day is here.

And with a self-charging hybrid, the smoother and more controlled you drive the more the economy and the environment benefit.

Toyota Auris

Price: Toyota Auris Hybrid Icon hatchback £21,145 (range £15,245 to £25,095)

Powertrain: 1,798cc, 98bhp, four-cylinder petrol and 80bhp/60kW electric motor to give combined output of 134bhp

Performance: 0-62mph 10.9 seconds; top speed 112mph

MPG: Urban 80.7; extra urban 72.4; combined 78.5

CO2 emissions: 84g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 13%

Insurance group: 12E (out of 50)

Warranty: Five years or 100,000 miles (eight years on hybrid components)

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,330mm; W (excluding door mirrors) 1,760mm; H 1,475mm

Refreshing change

It’s all good news for Toyota which has refreshed the Auris with more exterior presence, apprearing broader and lower, upgraded interior, better road manners and refinement and safety features. The hybrid – high on economy, low on CO2 emissions and with virtually no NOx or particulates – accounts for more than half of British-built Auris sales in western Europe where it is the best-selling hybrid.

Under the bonnet

The big news is a new 114bhp 1.2-litre turbo petrol and 110bhp 1.6-litre turbo diesel alongside uprated 89bhp 1.4-litre turbo diesel, 98bhp 1.33-litre petrol and that popular 134bhp hybrid combining a 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor.

The hybrid needs careful driving to get the best from it but I consistently topped 60mpg, regularly hovering around 70mpg – it’s all about being mean, green and clean.

With the ability to run on electric motor alone, stop-start urban driving actually boosts economy. Use the engine to get up to speed, lift off the throttle and maintain momentum on the battery up to about 44mph with a light foot. The Auris hybrid will coast huge distances off the throttle when slowing down and, all that time, you’re recharging the batteries.

The CVT automatic gearbox works well in urban driving but floor it and you get a lot of engine noise – another reason to drive with a light foot!

How it drives

You’d never call the Auris exciting but it is downright dependable. It corners competently and, with barely any body roll and more weight and feel at speed from the retuned electric power steering, it’s easy to maintain momentum, so encouraging a smooth driving style to boost eco motoring.

The suspension has been tweaked for better straight-line ride comfort so the Auris smooths and sooths bumpy roads well with poor surfaces more noticeable from the tyre noise.

Space and comfort

The Auris is roomy enough to carry three average adults in the back reasonable distances with decent legroom – if those up front aren’t greedy. Headroom in the back is sufficient for two passengers but squeeze three in and they might find the edges of the roof lining a little close for comfort.

Clever packaging means that, even with the large drive battery pack, the Auris still has a full-size, well-shaped 437-litre hatchback boot with an underfloor storage tray and low sill. Drop the 60/40 rear seat backs and it rises to 1,199 litres but there is a little slope up from the floor.

At the wheel

The curvy new fascia is all very user-friendly with a colour touchscreen on all but entry model to control most in-car functions.

Given the hi-tech nature of the Auris, a handbrake lever, rather than an electronic parking brake, seems out of place.

Despite efforts to improve sensory quality with upgraded soft-touch materials, some plastics lower down the cabin, such as the door bins, feel and look cheap.

A shallow rear screen and high parcel shelf limit visibility – fortunately all but the entry model gets a rear-view camera as part of the range’s attractive standard equipment levels.

Final say

The Auris proves you don’t have to make sacrifices to drive a hybrid when it comes to space and practicality and will reward a measured, restrained driving style. It’s not exciting but does give a feel-good factor when you look at the emissions and what you could achieve economy-wise.

The only thing likely to gain momentum is the uptake of hybrids.

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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