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Auris Hybrid is good, bad but not ugly 

 

HYBRIDS are growing in stature as the technology gets better and better and the motorist is not going into uncharted waters.

One recently improved example is Toyota’s Auris which has a great deal going for it – but some negatives as well.

The model I tested was the top-of-the-range Hybrid Synergy Drive Excel 1.8 CVT five-door version and I was left with a lot of mixed feelings after my time with it.

The Auris is a smart-looking car so it scores high on style and the interior is also nice enough without being extra special.

Push the button to start up and it’s only when you put the gear lever into drive position and touch the accelerator that you know you have power.

Running from electric battery power, you will be noiseless and when the 1.8-litre 16-valve engine kicks in pottering about town it does so pretty smoothly.

The model also runs quietly when cruising at motorway speeds and I thought ride and handling were both pretty good, even on some uneven surfaces.

But it’s when you are looking for a blast of power, for overtaking, going uphill or just want a speedy response, that this set-up lets you down.

The CVT transmission seems to have a problem selecting the proper gear and that’s when the petrol engine gets rather noisy and can be quite obtrusive for driver and passengers.

If you don’t mind that then you should be quite happy with the economical benefits from this model which, with its petrol engine and electric motor generates a maximum combined power output of 134bhp, enabling zero to 62mph acceleration in 10.9 seconds and a top speed of 112mph.

Toyota claim 72.4mpg consumption but I managed just 52mpg which would still be quite an achievement for a petrol-engined car.

The battery is now placed under the rear seat – leaving the same 360-litres luggage space as in other models.

The Auris brings a new Toyota grading to the UK – rising from Active trim, through Icon and Sport to the top-of-the range Excel.

Standard spec on the entry-level model includes seven airbags, air conditioning, follow-me-home lighting system, Hill-start Assist Control, Vehicle Stability Control and LED daytime running lights.

Prices start at £14,495    with the test model costing £21,745.

A lot is expected of this new Auris Hybrid by Toyota who are looking for an anticipated pan-European sales mix of one third hybrid, one third diesel and one third petrol, with the UK hybrid sales expected to be a bit higher.