TOYOTA’S Derbyshire factory has become a world leader with their Auris Touring Sports for it is the first full hybrid compact estate car on the planet which will have big appeal to both private and fleet customers writes Bryan Longworth.
And the Auris Touring Sports hybrid sales are expected to account for nearly half of the total sales demonstrating how hybrid technology for which Toyota is world famous has successfuly moved from being a niche choice a few years ago to mainstream option.
And as well as having big appeal through its very low emissions making it free of road tax and attractive to business users the estate has clever one touch rear seats that easily fold flat and with the batteries being located beneath the rear seats the 530 litres luggage capacity in the hybrid matches that of the petrol and diesel models in the range.
The rather unusually named Touring Sports has attractive frontal styling which gives it plenty of street appeal that helps to make this hybrid load carrier which has the same power system as that in the Prius such a tempting vehicle.
My test car was the Auris Touring Sports Excel Hybrid costing £22,845 with a 1.8-litre petrol engine and CVT automatic transmission with a top speed of 112mph a zero to 62mph time of 11.2 seconds CO2 emissions of 92g/km and a combined fuel consumption of 70.6mpg although the on board trip computer showed this to be just over 50mpg.
The system’s petrol engine and electric motor work together to power the car as a full hybrid but it can also operate on the electric motor alone for short periods such as in city and town driving when tailpipe emissions are reduced to zero for really green motoring.
What impressed me as I started to drive the estate was the very smooth and quiet power delivery from the hybrid unit and the nicely balanced steering making it very user friendly and relaxing and ideal for long trips.
The interior is spacious and comfortable with easy to see instruments and there is plenty of standard kit that includes a very good rear view camera but considering this was the top model the satellite navigation system which also warns of speed camera locations was an optional extra.
What really impressed me was the rear load area which has a nice low and easy to enter load bay making it quite accessible for lifting heavy articles into and out of the estate and there are plenty of stowage spaces under the floor although there is not a spare wheel.
And as I mentioned earlier the one touch rear seat system for increasing the load area size is excellent and the best I have come across because some estate cars and hatchbacks rather surprisingly still have rear seat release systems that are difficult to operate and are far from being user friendly.
The only feature that I found to be a tad irritating at times was the short and stubby gear shift lever for the automatic transmission which was a bit fiddly compared to other automatic gear shift levers.
The UK built Auris Touring Sports has been designed for Europe and it is indicative of Toyota’s perseverance with hybrid technology that the company expects nearly 50 per cent of sales of this estate to be hybrid powered and after testing the car I can see why this boom in hybrid power has become so popular.
My Verdict: A tempting hybrid estate.
Model: Toyota Auris Touring Sports Excel Hybrid.
Engine: 1.8-litre petrol with electric motor.
Transmission: CVT automatic.
Top speed: 109mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 11.2 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 70.6mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 92g/km.
Price: £22,845 on the road.