In pure electric mode you can drive at up to 31mph for 1.2 miles
It's a cheap ownership proposition, but not engaging to drive
60mpg economy in real world conditions should be possible
Prius electro-mechanicals have been slotted into Auris
Auris is practical, but doesn't have largest boot in class
Stubby gear selector isn't intuitive
What is it?
In effect, this is an Auris with Prius electro-mechanicals, providing a Toyota hybrid at slightly lower prices in more mainstream clothing.
The headline news is its class-leading 89g/km, the servicing costs of a 1.0 Yaris and the low tax it attracts.
Its 74.3mpg just betters the Prius, although their CO2 numbers are identical, while the Auris also tops the less powerful, stop-start Focus Econetic (109bhp, 99g/km) and Golf BlueMotion (103bhp, 99g/km).
Its petrol engine is an Atkinson cycle 132bhp 1.8, a 79bhp, 153lb ft electric motor supplementing the former’s 105lb ft. For technical reasons you can’t add these numbers, but the theoretical peak is 295lb ft.
What's it like?
It certainly doesn’t feel like adding the power and torque figures is legitimate on the road, its admittedly brisk powertrain lacking the immense low-to-mid-range tug of the Auris 2.0 diesel that it replaces.
With its CVT transmission prompting persistent high-rev thrash when worked hard, this an unwelcome substitute for the tachometer replaced by a gauge revealing the charging status of the battery.
Switching to Eco, via a switch behind a stubby gear selector whose return-to-neutral mechanism promotes confusion, softens the noise by dulling the throttle response, together with performance. But for commuting, it’s fine – and the threshing noises create an incentive to back off and save fuel.
You can also drive in pure electric mode, at up to 31mph for 1.2 miles, but the motor is better left to deploy when the ingenious brain sees fit, which is often in urban jams.
A hard and decidedly uneconomical thrash through the hills produced 36.6mpg – another economy-minded tester managed 57.7mpg - so 60mpg-plus should be on.
But thrashing this Auris is an unrewarding experience, this hybrid version shorn of the recently-titivated conventional versions’ improved agility – blame Cd-reducing lowered suspension, fuel-eking high tyre-pressures and extra weight – and its steering is pretty lifeless too.
Should I buy one?
This is a car that’s more transport - if intriguing transport - than engaging drive, but one that proves civil at sensible speeds (more so than the Prius) and tempts very effectively with its dramatically reduced running costs.