The crunch of gravel cuts through the slumbering afternoon air like a kid eating crisps in a cinema. But lo! What noise does not through yonder window break for ‘tis nought but an absolute absence of engine noise. Only the soundtrack of a million perfect pebbles rent asunder by the relentless rolling of round rubber echoes ‘twards the imposing property to which this noisy highway of driveway eventually leads.
Anyone looking from the window would be forgiven for furrowing their burnished brow in confusion for the sight that greets them is not the distinctive prow of a Prius nor the looming largesse of a Lexus RX. At first glance this is a mere family hatch, properly propelled by petrol or driven by diesel. How can no sound emanate from its comfortably contoured carapace? Let me be the bringer of new news, dear onlooker. The hatch I hold before you is a Hybrid.
I present to you Toyota’s new Auris electro-fest. And this British built baby loves to whisper so that at low speeds you won’t be getting aural with the Auris at all.
Grinding up gravel in a shrine of silence of all well and good, but what about the really important stuff? How does this honey handle on the real roads? I abandon the slow swish up to a stately home and set my sights on Market Harborough.
Instantly I’m on a ragged roughneck of a road that bucks and weaves like a shot snake across the velvet duvet of bosomy English countryside. It’s time to turn things up at notch. Before you can blink, 1.8 petrol power has slid seamlessly into synergy with barely audible battery boost in a move that gives a simple one word answer – more punch.
Soon we are licking along at a clip, feeling the lowered suspension working with the efficiency of a Swiss watchmaker’s long serving Labrador. Bumps are blown away like a baddie at the business end of an Uzi. Corners are sucked up as if this thing has just popped out of an Electrolux factory.
Yet this eager eco machine is no mere appliance for sometimes it likes to party. During one especially satisfying switchback sequence I piled in hot and slammed shut the gas. In an instant the tail stepped out, I caught it with a dab of oppo and I was away.
The Toyota Auris Hybrid T4 is a bitch. And I spanked it.
Troy Queef is Executive Associate Editor-At-Large for DAB OF OPPO magazine