A week with… a Toyota Auris Hybrid

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Day 1: If you want a hybrid car but worry that a Prius will make you look like a sanctimonious tit, this could be the answer. It has the appearance of a normal hatchback and you could always steam off the hybrid badges. Whether the design is a complete success is another matter. It looks like the front end was styled by someone talented and dynamic but who was then called away on urgent business before he could finish the back, leaving the job to a bloke who was recently sacked by Hyundai.

A plus point is that it’s made in Derbyshire rather than shipped all the way from Japan like a Prius so you could argue it’s more environmentally friendly, especially if you already live in Derbyshire.

Day 2: When the Auris was first put on display at last year’s Paris motoring show I sat in one and howled with laughter at how cack the dashboard was. It felt like the first effort from a provincial Chinese company whose previous business was disposable lighters. Since then someone at Toyota has clearly had a think and, although the design isn’t any more stylish, the quality of the plastics feels better. It also has that sense of light, precise quality that marks out cars from Derbyshire. And sometimes Japan.

Day 3: After three days of cruising about London in the Auris I have identified one bad thing and two good things. The bad thing is the ride, which could and should be better. The good things are the steering, which is much sharper than the expected econo-hatch mush, and the entire notion of hybrids for urban living. Harvesting kinetic energy every time you brake or coast down a hill, turning it into electricity and then using that electricity to move you along at low speeds is ingenious. It’s basically free power. Obviously the gubbins to do this is quite complicated but it’s a credit to Toyota that they’ve made it work almost seamlessly. If you’d like to see how hard it is to make a hybrid work, go and drive the cock-awful Citroen DS5 Hybrid4 which doesn’t.

Day 4: I have to be in St Albans. It’s a trip that involves a short section of motorway and here the Auris experience starts to peel apart at the edges. Clog the accelerator as you glide down a slip road and the whole car fills with a joyless lowing as the CVT gearbox holds the 1.8-litre engine at noisily constant revs until you decide it would be more fun to be clattered by a lorry and back off. It genuinely feels like the whole car is in pain. The Auris is much quieter once it’s up to a cruise but the damage is done on the way there.

Day 5: A man at Vauxhall once told me their Ampera has heated seats because they’re a more efficient and less power hungry way to warm up, which is important in an electric car. The Auris isn’t an electric car of course and, free from that range anxiety, you can use the heater and the heated seats with wild and ultimately sweaty abandon.  Yet the Toyota’s heated seats are bizarrely inconsistent, sometimes starting off too hot and searing your arse like a cheap steak, sometimes giving up and switching themselves off before you’re even warm. Also, the low setting seems to be hotter than the high setting so either the switch is on upsidedown or I need to recalibrate my buttocks.

Day 6: There’s little pleasure in driving the Auris in a spirited manner and it feels like you’re torturing the car if you do, but if you drive it delicately around town it feels very happy and proudly brings you its homework which shows that it’s never doing less than 50mpg. I’m starting to suspect they’ve set the car up like this deliberately. I find myself checking the trip computer and trying to beat my previous average economy figures as if this has become some sort of competitive sport. This morning driving in a relaxed manner yet without dawdling or getting in anyone’s way I did eight miles across London at 61mpg.

Day 7: There are several things to like about the Auris Hybrid. The economy, obviously, and the cleverness of the technology which appeals to the part of a man’s mind that likes gadgets. I also enjoy being able to silently creep down my street on electric power, particularly if it allows me to sneak up on Keith from number 10 as he cross the road and scare the living crap out of him. There is, however, little fun to be had from the handling or giving this Toyota a good thrashing on an open road. All the pleasure comes from trundling about the city and knowing that, for a petrol car, you’re being unnaturally economical. If that’s what you want, it’s great. It feels more sturdy than a Prius and far less smug. I just worry that it’s like one of those speccy, badly dressed kids on University Challenge. They’re very, very clever but you might soon find their company rather wearing.

This car was a Toyota Auris Hybrid Excel with a 98bhp, 1.8-litre petrol engine and an 80bhp electric motor. Toyota say it can do 0-62 in 10.9 seconds and 112mph. They also say it can do 72.4mpg. It costs £21,745.


  1. Well that answers the question I had about the Corolla last week. I’d forgotten you poor bastards in the old country have to call it an Auris these days.

  2. Did 400 miles up to Lincolnshire in the previous shape one of these before Christmas. Comfortable and hassle free. If I recall correctly it had a “power” dial instead of a rev counter………

  3. There’s one thing I really, really like about this Auris…

    I don’t own one.

  4. A hybrid Toyota? What’s not to like!

  5. How long do you have?
    This would be recalled before I got to the end of that particular list.

  6. I used to drive a 2008 Auris (petrol, no hybrid) for work, and found it a surprisingly likeable companion.

    In fact, during the “ash cloud” problem, I drove it from Heathrow to Cork and back, via Holyhead and Dublin, for a business trip.

    Despite being a bit weak in the engine department, it completed the task without complaint.

    My only complaint was the quality of the stereo. What a tinny-sounding lump of crap!

  7. I had the old shape Auris Hybrid as a company car for 9 months. Great car, really comfortable and well built. The bit missing from the review is the incredible torque the Auris produces, away from the lights it’s fantastic, while the competition is busy stirring their box of 20th century cogs, I was at the next set of lights and away. I’d have another one tomorrow if I could justify the cost.

  8. Racing between the lights in your sporty Auris Hybrid whilst the world laughs at you, if you had taken a moment out from being smug and self satisfied and you’d have noitced.

  9. Dull car for dull people who just love dull things. I’ve heard that Toyota are considering a very limited edition ‘sporty’ 3-door version to be designated the Compact Light Injection Turbo Auris but badged as a CLIT Auris. Rumour is that they will be hard to find.

  10. The previous post reminded me of a secret we have kept in our family for many years, that being the fact that my Great Aunt Mary, on my mothers side was born with an extra clitoris. I suppose it is relevant in that, if you were to have two CLIT Auris’s , a His and a Hers, then if you were two lose one, you could always use the other as back up while you searched for the other, or even use the secondary CLIT Auris to search for the Primary CLIT Auris. However this is neither here nor there, what I really wanted to say was that the probability of Toyota designating an Auris with the Letters CLIT would never happen because it just happens to make the name sound like a women’s special bits and I think that there are grounds for litigation in there somewhere. Just like my revealing of the family secret. Damn, Daddy will be most perturbed.

  11. You lot don’t appear to be taking this at all seriously. I’m going back to What Car?.

  12. Now and then I am going to stumble across a write-up like this and I’ll recall that there really are nevertheless intriguing pages over a web. ^_^. Thanks.

  13. A Comparison:-

    1963 Humber Sceptre 1a. 6 Speed manual + Overdrive. 1.6 litre twin carb engine @ 80hp net, 85hp gross (no I didnt understand it either), easily upgradable to the 107hp H120 version. 100mph as standard. 35mpg average. Looks like a baby ’58 Plymouth Fury. £3k. Oh and enough dials to scare a 707. About the only gauge you dont get is the one telling you about brake fluid temperature.

    2012 Prius/Auris. CVT (constantly Vacuous Transmission). 1.8 + electric – 130hp. 95mph down a hill with a following wind. 46mpg (if you are lucky). Looks like a training shoe designed by tescos. £20k. Idiot lights and LCDs.

    Which one makes more sense?

    Not to mention the party trick of our current Toyota demo driver – aka hit the sport button just as Jemma is driving onto a busy roundabout; the result of which was we almost went *over* the roundabout and there was almost a series of events culminating in a violence!

    Final argument – do you really want to drive around in something with a name that translates to Pious?

  14. Highly descriptive article, I liked that bit. Will there be
    a part 2?

  15. It wasn’t ‘A hoot to drive’ then?

    Keep taking the tablets

  16. See you Jimmy?

  17. “Which one makes more sense?”

    The one less likely to leave you with life-changing injuries after a 30mph shunt?

  18. Well i just picked my Auris Excel HSD up on the 23rd Dec (previously had a nissan juke dci) and its a completely new dimension in driving. Having owned 3 previous toyota’s I love them. One recall in nrly 20 years….You cant argue….Another quialty motor!

  19. Hi all,

    Someone here have the Auris HSD with Skyview? Any issue with Skyview like noise, water inside?

    Thanks in advance

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  30. Just bought one from a Toyota dealer 34k on the clock it’s a joke burning smells not sure if it’s brake fluid or whatever but it’s seriously damaging my health I’ve been to two Toyota dealers who say they can’t find fault. I despair never again.

  31. Sure thing.

  32. Ok I came back.

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