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Toyota Auris Hybrid
5/10

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Road Test

Toyota Auris Hybrid driven

Driven February 2013

Additional Info

Toyota gave us the GT86 this year, something for which it's clearly keen to make amends. So it's set about balancing the sports car's yang with a bit of plainer yin. And given us a new Auris hatchback.

Toyota's Golf rival has long been an underperformer of the highest order, but as we understand it, company boss Akio Toyoda's demand that Toyotas ought to be more fun to drive applies across the board. So here we have a heavily facelifted Auris, one that's received some heavy body revisions, an all-new interior, has new suspension, has lost weight and possibly found a new purpose in life. Possibly.

It does look quite different from before. Well, the nose does, anyway; it's a bit like one of Citroen's chevrons inverted. The flanks are neatly pressed, too, but I bet when you first clicked to this page there was no flash of instant recognition. The biggest change is the drop in height, the Auris is now 55mm lower - a big drop. This has a nice knock-on effect, reducing the frontal area, improving the aero and lowering CO2 emissions.

To just 85g/km, in the case of this hybrid model. It's a Toyota, so of course there's a hybrid model. Same system as the Prius, but flakier. This one can travel a mere 1.25 miles solely on electric, and it's a shame that, having instigated the hybrid revolution, Toyota isn't doing more to keep the pressure on. However, 85g/km is low and makes for free tax and good boasts in tearooms across the land. If only it weren't paired with a horrid CVT transmission and blandly intrusive 1.8-litre petrol.

And why does the cabin have to be so slabby and plain? I swear the old one was more interesting than this dull and generic effort. Perhaps the most interesting thing is the cloth on the seats, which has a raised weave. No detectable improvement to the quality or tactility, either, but, as ever, you get the impression you're sitting in something that will never go wrong.

But never excite, either. Some good stuff exists here, though. The Auris is now more professional around corners, it doesn't flounder, has reasonable body control and is placid when cruising. Bit more road noise than I was expecting from something that aims to do battle with a Golf (or even a Kia Cee'd) - and it's not a car you're ever going to get a kick out of driving. It's just too boring.

Ollie Marriage

The numbers
1798cc, 4cyl petrol and electric motor, 134bhp, 105lb ft, 76.3mpg, 85g/km CO2 , 0-62mph in 10.9secs, 112mph, 1370kg

The verdict
Sharper-looking, better-driving, but this plain-clothes Prius lags well behind the Golf.

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