Toyota Auris T Spirit HSD 1.8 VVT-i 5dr

October 2010

picture of car from the front

Only the car's blue Toyota badge tells you this is the hybrid version of Toyota's Auris

Ratings

Overall Rating 8Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 9Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 6Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 6Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Good levels of cabin space
  • Oddment storage is generous
  • Hybrid Auris drives just like a regular Auris
  • In the right environment this Auris makes a lot of sense

Gripes

  • Modest outright performance might prove a disappointment
  • Firm ride can prove a little uncomfortable around town
  • Boot space suffers thanks to location of hybrid power system
  • Interior plastics can't compete with best in class

It was only a matter of time before Toyota produced a hybrid version of its mainstream family hatchback, the Auris. Offering a similar level of performance to that of the Prius, the Japanese car maker believes the more conventional Auris will have a broader appeal.

Outwardly there's little to tell the hybrid Auris apart from its petrol and diesel powered cousins. To the well informed observer the tell-tail sign is the blue Toyota badging - the convention identifying both Lexus and Toyota hybrids.

What you can't see from the outside is the Auris hybrid's potential. Like the Prius it offers owners the ability to make meaningful savings, both financial and environmental. There's no question that the cars sub 95g/km CO2 rating and 70-odd mpg fuel economy are impressive attributes for a family-size hatchback.

Key to its appeal is the fact that it behaves like a regular family car and doesn't look like a futuristic spaceship. It's not all plain sailing, however, as boot space is reduced over the standard Auris thanks to the hybrid's extra hardware.

That aside, driving the Auris hybrid is a straightforward experience, and possibly easier thanks to the car's CVT auto gearbox and games console-like gearshifter. Factor in the typically Toyota heavily assisted steering, a raised driving position and the ability to drive a few hundred metres in battery only mode at low speeds and there's more to this car than meets the eye.

Our verdict on the Toyota Auris T Spirit HSD 1.8 VVT-i 5dr

The appearance of the Auris hybrid is proof that the time to convince mainstream buyers of the merits of green motoring has come. To compare this Auris to an equivalent oil burner would be to miss the point, however. The Auris is best suited for urban journeys and sympathetic, light-footed drivers. Boy racers need not apply.

Costs
Costs rating 9

The Auris hybrid has been designed with low cost of ownership in mind. With its low fuel consumption and CO2 rating, the car offers owners significant tax savings over that of a conventional petrol powered family hatchback.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 6

For most of the time the hybrid model performs just as well as conventional Auris. With enough room for a growing family, the car's cabin is a good size and boasts plenty of oddment storage. Where the hybrid car differs is in the boot department. With the hybrid hardware behind the rear seats, load space is significantly reduces to that of a supermini in real terms.

picture of car from the rear

battery-only mode useful for short, low speed driving

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 6

This revised second generation Auris boasts a redesigned handbrake, which should please those who found the original item awkward. In hybrid trim the car's stubby auto gearlever is straight out of the Prius and is immediately intuitive. The car's main instruments are, clear and concise, while the extra hybrid-related information - range, performance - is displayed in an easy to understand format.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 8

As far as five-door hatchbacks go the Auris offers a good level of space and comfort for occupants. The support seats fore and aft are welcome, and under normal conditions engine and road noise is well suppressed - only hard acceleration will disrupt the otherwise calm cabin ambience.

Car security
Security Rating 7

Remote central locking and an engine immobiliser are both standard, while selected models offer a completely keyless entry and ignition feature so that you can keep the key in your pocket at all times.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

Like with the conventional Auris models, the hybrid variant boasts an impressive array of passive and active safety measures, including ABS, EBD, brake assist as well as stability and traction control. Occupants are also protected by seat belt reminders, nine airbags (including knee airbag for the driver), front seats designed to prevent whiplash and two Isofix child seat fittings.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 5

As with any full hybrid from Toyota the driving experience is a little unusual at first. The ability to drive on electric power alone for short distances at low speed can prove useful, but you soon learn to drive the Auris hybrid in a gentle, considerate way. Your reward for hard acceleration is lots of noise and not much progress as the CVT auto gearbox struggles to keep up with your demands. Moderate acceleration, plenty of anticipation and gentle braking is the way to getting close to the official economy figures. Everything else is pure Auris, from the heavily assisted steering to the car's slightly firm ride.

picture of car interior

Auris hybrid's cabin near-identical to the standard car

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 7

The regular Auris has been designed with families in mind, and the five-door model is certainly appealing. The car's durable cabin is an obvious plus point, although the hybrid's compromised boot could pose a few problems if you fail to plan ahead.

First car appeal
First car Rating 8

Just like with a regular Auris, there's no reason why the hybrid model can't be a recommended purchase for a novice driver. It's a safe, practical and reliable choice; all-round visibility is good which makes it relatively simple to park - a distinctive plus for the less experienced driver. With its automatic gearbox and simple controls, the hybrid Auris could be the better choice.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 6

Toyota has a reputation for producing reliable vehicles, and as such many are purchased by the more conservative, older driver, as well as by families. The conservative-looking Auris the lacks visual flair of some rivals but it is modern. It does trump most rivals with its hybrid technology, however.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

With its slightly raised front seating position, the five-door Auris is an accessible car. Realistically, there's no compromise when accessing the rear seats either. The boot hatch feels light, and can easily be opened and closed one-handed.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The hybrid Auris benefits from an elevated level of specification over the regular models, and its audio offering is above average. Sound quality is good and the essential controls are present on the steering wheel. Bluetooth connectivity, iPod connections and sat-nav are all available.

picture of car in detail

Delivers impressive fuel economy driven smoothly

Colours and trim

The conservatively styled Auris works best if selected in a bold exterior colour, with white a surprisingly good choice. Inside, a decent range of trim levels do much to lift the car's otherwise somber cabin ambience. The interior fabrics and plastics do not feel special, but they are robust and well put together.

Parking

Thanks in part to the elevated driving position, all-round visibility is good and parking is straightforward. Parking sensors are a welcome addition, as is the car's light and accurate steering at low speeds.

Spare wheel

A tyre mobility kit is included as standard.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.33-litre (100bhp); 1.6-litre VVT-I (122bhp); 1.8-litre HSD hybrid (98bhp plus electric motor). Diesel engine options - 1.4-litre D-4D 90 (89bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox, six-speed manual gearbox, switchable MultiMode automatic gearbox, E-CVT auto for HSD hybrid. Trim levels: T2, TR, SR, T3, T4, T Spirit.

 

Alternative cars

Volkswagen Golf Sixth generation inherits strong build quality and frugal diesel variants

Ford Focus Benchmark for general motoring duties but lacks innovative hybrid model

Vauxhall Astra Impressive mainstream alternative, but can't match Audis HSD for CO2 rating

Honda Insight Competent alternative hybrid that's cheaper to buy than Auris but quite as efficient



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October 2010