The Toyota Auris Touring Sports is offered with a choice of five engines. Buyers can pick from a 98bhp 1.33-litre petrol, a 113bhp turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol with a manual or automatic gearbox, an 89bhp 1.4-litre diesel, a 110bhp 1.6-litre oilburner and the 134bhp 1.8-litre hybrid with the e-CVT system.
The focus here is on the range-topping hybrid option. The hybrid system is a wonderfully compact device, complex to explain but brilliantly simple in its operation.
There is a drive engine and drive motor/generator, both of which are connected via planetary gears to the driven wheels, and a secondary motor/generator, whose speed can be varied to allow for discrepancies in the speeds of the drive motor, engine and driven wheels. It’s simpler than it sounds.
It’s often erroneously described as a continuously variable transmission (CVT), but it’s easy to forgive the mistake, because they’re similar in practice. The Auris’s internal combustion engine, if it’s running, is able to spin at its most efficient revs, which most of the time means that it’s not making a great deal of noise.
When it does, it’s smooth, but the integration of the drive sources is unrivalled in its smoothness. The Toyota Auris just mooches along like any automatic, with a touch of creep at idle and an amicable throttle response on bigger openings.
It’s not über-responsive, mind. Most cars will hit 30mph from rest in comfortably under 3.0sec, but the Auris wants a solid 4.0sec, which is one of the main reasons why it takes 11.6sec to reach 60mph from rest.
It actually feels livelier than that. Not ‘lively’ lively, but lively enough, perhaps like a 10.0sec-to-60mph car. And because of the seamlessness of the delivery, you’re seldom left completely wanting.
Nonetheless, the Toyota is at its best at modest throttle openings, where it delivers impressive smoothness; it’s one of the most relaxing drivetrains we can think of. Wet and dry, the Auris stops in short order, too.