ROG and Auris in star mode
Comfortable, solid and well designed, this new Toyota brings hybrid motoring right to the forefront of an eco-aware market, writes Campbell Spray
TOYOTA couldn't have had a better match to launch their Auris Hybrid shirts with the Munster team than last Saturday's epic encounter with Northampton at Thomond Park.
If the last minutes of the game -- with 41 phases controlled by Munster before Ronan O'Gara's drop goal to secure victory by the skin of their teeth -- didn't win converts, nothing will. It also made me feel even better about the Toyota Auris Hybrid, which I had returned the week before.
It is the first Toyota car I have really enjoyed this year. It was a comfortable, solid and very well-specced car which sat very confidently on the road to give a very pleasant drive. The only drawback is the reduction in the load area because of the battery. However, it does bring hybrid technology right into the mainstream.
The Auris HSD is powered by an 1.8 99bhp petrol engine and 82bhp electric motor. With careful driving, 70mpg is possible but I think about 55mpg is more realistic. This is, of course, about the same as some diesels but the Auris HSD is much slicker, quieter and cleaner. At start-up and low to mid-range speeds, the vehicle automatically runs in EV (electric vehicle) mode. Under normal driving conditions, the power is adjusted between engine and electric motor to combine performance and fuel efficiency. It is such an easy car to drive, with a slick little direction selector and four drive modes: Normal, EV, Eco and Power.
The HSD starts at €24,925, with about another €2,500 for the luxury grade. At that level, it's creeping towards its premium-level hybrid sister the Lexus CT200h, which has been a great success already.
The Auris HSD deserves to do very well as it is a very attractive package that presses all the right buttons. I liked its great array of extras, quietness and depth. It's a well thought-out car using Toyota's big investment in hybrid technology, and it might teach me to carry a bit less luggage around. Like the Munster team, it got off to a winning start.