Toyota Auris Hybrid Synergy Drive Excel
Our Rating

4/5

Toyota Auris Hybrid Synergy Drive Excel

We fail to come anywhere near the official fuel economy figures.

The current Toyota Auris - a very much smarter-looking device than its immediate predecessor, I dare to suggest - arrived late last year, and was discussed in no small detail in Tom Stewart's launch report.The Hybrid Synergy Drive Excel tested here is the most expensive model in the range at £21,745, but considering the electric motor and battery pack it's fitted with it isn't dramatically costlier than the 1.6-litre petrol Excel with CVT automatic transmission, which is only £1500 cheaper to buy.Not as cheap to run, though. The Hybrid Excel is officially the third most economical Auris, its official combined fuel economy of 72.4mpg being beaten only by the 74.3mpg of the 1.4 diesel and the cheaper Hybrid Icon, which has smaller wheels and tyres. All three are comfortably below the 100g/km CO2 emissions threshold for Vehicle Excise Duty and the London congestion charge.Obviously, I can't let that pass without mentioning how economical I found the test car to be. After just under 380 miles - roughly half of them on the motorway, a third on A-roads and the rest in town - the trip computer suggested that I'd averaged 52.5mpg.A refill of the tank and some work with a calculator gave me the figure of 52.9mpg. Slightly better, but not within hailing distance of 72.4mpg and, frankly, a little short of what I'd have expected to get in a similarly-sized diesel.Mind you, a diesel would be much noisier. The Hybrid is so quiet around town that it's not always obvious whether the engine is running or has switched off to let the electric motor do all the work. The sound effects become an issue only when you're accelerating reasonably hard or trying to maintain speed up a steepish hill - in either case the 1.8-litre petrol engine starts to rev quite hard, as engines mated to CVT transmissions always will in these circumstances.Ride quality is very good, and so, at least up to a point, is the handling. Considering all the extra bits and pieces this car is carrying compared a with a conventional petrol or diesel model, this might be a surprise, but it's not uncommon with hybrids because their weight is more evenly distributed between the front and rear axles. It certainly works with the Auris.Rather impressively, the battery pack doesn't compromise the luggage space, which at 360 litres is more impressive than in the Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra but less so than in the Volkswagen Golf. Rear passengers don't get such a good deal, though unless you need to carry four large adults on a regular basis this might not be too much or a problem.I'm happy to say that I enjoyed this car while I had it, but it's not quite at the sharp end of its class, and I'd have hoped for better real-world fuel economy. Personally, I think I'd accept the higher noise levels of a good diesel. Engine 1798cc, 4 cylinders plus electric motor Power 134bhp Transmission CVT automatic Fuel/CO2 72.4mpg / 91g/km Acceleration 0-62mph: 10.9 seconds Top speed 112mph Price £21,745 Details correct at publication date

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