Toyota Auris Hybrid

27 Nov, 2012 11:00am Damion Smy

Styling and efficiency updates aim to make the petrol-electric Toyota Auris Hybrid a contender


The new Auris is a significant step up in terms of efficiency, style and practicality over the car it replaces. It’s better to drive, too, but a clunky CVT gearbox means it still can’t hold a candle to a VW Golf or Ford Focus when it comes to driving fun. Toyota deserves praise for making a step in the right direction, but this car is still some way behind rivals.

The old Toyota Auris was just a car for getting from A to B. It was well suited to its function, yet lacked any real excitement. Enter the new model, featuring a more dynamic look and, says its maker, a bit more driving fun.

We know Toyota is still capable of making thrilling cars – the GT 86 proves that – but can it infuse the family hatchback with the same sense of entertainment?

Toyota decided to start with the looks. Gone is the old Auris’ shapeless, dumpy and bland styling. In its place is the brand’s new ‘keen look’ design language, which you’ll see on everything from the new RAV4 to the next-generation Verso compact MPV.

The result is a more athletic look, with a lower Toyota badge and an upward-angled grille and headlamps that emphasise the car’s width. A rising beltline and sloping roof lead back towards chunky light clusters that help draw the rear of the car together.

Inside, there’s been a clear focus on simplifying the design and improving quality. So you get lots of straight lines and more luxurious materials. Yet while they look good, a lot of the surfaces still feel a bit hard and cheap to the touch. Our top-spec car’s classy silver details and sophisticated white and blue instrument lights give the Auris cabin a premium feel it lacked before.

And before you even set off, you can tell Toyota’s engineers have tried to make this car feel sportier. The driver’s seat is now 40mm lower and the angle of the steering wheel has changed. It feels a lot more comfortable than before, too, thanks to very supportive, well bolstered seats.

Drive the Auris Hybrid through some corners and it feels instantly more impressive than the old car. Body control is good and there’s a bit more weight to the slightly more responsive steering.

Nevertheless, the experience still feels a bit disconnected. The new model is definitely a big improvement on the old Auris, but it’s still no driver’s car.

There are steps forward in other areas, too. The previous Hybrid’s boot was around 120 litres smaller than that of the standard Auris, due to space taken up by the batteries.

In the new Hybrid the batteries sit under the rear seats, so it’s the same size as in the rest of the range: 360 litres. The latest car is more efficient, too – but not because of any tweaks to the hybrid powertrain.

The 1.8-litre petrol engine and electric motor pairing still makes 134bhp, yet thanks to revised aerodynamics and a reduced kerbweight, the Auris now returns 74.3mpg fuel economy and emits only 87g/km of CO2. That’s better than the old car’s 70.6mpg and 93g/km.

The same drawbacks remain, though. Power is sent through a CVT gearbox that is noisy and unresponsive. This hampers refinement, which is a shame considering that ride quality is actually much better.

Our car was a £21,745 Excel model, with 17-inch alloys, cruise and climate control, heated seats plus park assist. The pick of the range will be the £19,995 Icon, which is almost £2,000 cheaper than the least expensive Prius.

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Thought this was supposed to be a review of a Toyota rather than a plug for a VW.

"the new Golf, which have a genuine premium feel both in terms of the way they drive and the way they feel"

Yeah right!

If the VW will 'drive' at all! the VW Golf is and will be far more unreliable than the Toyota Auris, every consumer report in Germany, Netherlands shows the significant TSi engine problems of VW not to mention all the problems with the dsg gearbox. Japanese car are always in every report in the top three, and VW bottoms the list with the Polo, Golf etc etc etc.

This review is really a 'plug' for the VW Golf, go for the Toyota with the excellent CVT gearbox. Every automatic gearbox will generate extra noise when pushed hard. Test it yourself, compare both cars at the dealer, you will be disappointed in the new Golf and I expect you to be surprised by the Toyota.
And no, I do not hate VW (I have had several Passats), but this 'review' is a shame!

That is one truly ugly looking vehicle

AutoExpress is part of AutoBild from Germany, so German cars are great and Japanese very bad. What a waste of time this review.

I agree with you 100%!
This review is a bad joke.

Hmmm...there does seem to be a bias towards certain manufacturers by the motoring press. I've been influenced by magazine reviews in the past and regretted it (a truly awful experience of Mazda springing to mind).

I've always had good, sometimes exceptional, experiences with Toyota so the fact that this car drives well, but not quite as good as a golf, is good enough for me - especially if it never lets me down and the dealerships treat me with the respect I deserve after spending so much money.

But I wish they'd hurry up and build a successor to the MR2!

PS - I've seen official pics of the new RAV4 on other websites - but nothing here or on the other UK mainstream motoring websites. Wonder if that would still be the case if the badge was not Toyota?



AE consider the Golf Mk VII to be the class leader in this segment so its no surprise they refer to it here as they consider this the benchmark to beat to be recommended. They also mention the Ford Focus but no-one is bothered by that for some reason. If you test drive both and prefer the Toyota then thats fine but you can't criticise a review without good reasoning purely because it gives you a result you don't want to hear.

"...and the Bluemotion model will be just as efficient as the Auris Hybrid..."

Not if you want an automatic

The Golf is mentioned three times but the Focus only once. It is perfectly reasonable to criticise a review which gives the appearance of being slanted even if this is not the intention. Appearances matter.

The Auris Hybrid proved to be very reliable and environment friendly, class leading. The Focus to be a very good drivers car, class leading. The Golf is just an average car, the TSI especially with turbo, compressor and DSG was class leading in high garage bills.

Why mention a Focus at all then if the intention is to hijack reviews to promote VW products? Of course it's reasonable to criticise reviews that give the appearance of being slanted but where's the evidence to suggest this one is? a cvt gearbox blunting acceleration and adding noise is hardly an unexpected result. The added weight from batteries and motors etc. is also likely to affect handling so again, no logical reason to suggest this is a lie. To offset this and justify the hybrid technology this car needs to offer significant improvement in fuel efficiency compared to rivals but the figures don't stack up against a new Golf Bluemotion for instance - as AE rightly point out. Interior quality is a bit more subjective but if you compare the interior pictures of this against a Golf it comes off second best

I fear you miss my point. By all means criticise a Toyota product (I have no brief for that maker) but there is no need at all to mention another vehicle in doing so. Continual reference to one particular maker seems like a puff for that concern and I am not the only one to have noticed this. Cicero did something similar when he ended all his speeches, whatever the subject, with "and Carthage will be destroyed". Standard propaganda stuff.

I get 60 mpg easily in my MK II Prius with 84,000 miles and that's with winter tyres. I got the car with winter tyres 2 years ago and just happened that I needed new ones in winter, I can't wait to try A rated tyres. In summer on the last winter tyres I easily managed 64-65 mpg. You do need to learn a few skills to take advantage of the hybrid, it takes practice.
Anyway, it's worrying that I've noticed more and more Diesel cars on the likes of carzone and autotrader that are advertised as having the flywheel replaced, and others are having problems with the DPF too.
The Prius has been 100% reliable and all those things that fail on a diesel don't exist in a Prius.
Gone are the days of reliable diesels and so I won't be going back. I've had too many problems in the past, also included flywheels in 2 VW's!
There is no way in hell I'd buy a 2nd hand diesel these days with over 50K miles as they seem to give trouble, and expensive trouble at that !

The review doesn't criticise the Toyota, it merely finds it slightly lacking compared to the likes of the Focus and Golf, hence the need to mention these cars. Supermini reviews are full of arbitrary comparisons against the Ford Fiesta as its considered the class leader there but this doesn't provoke the same reaction

I have just checked the original piece about the Toyota. Since I wrote my first comment the article has been modified so as to make only one reference each to the Golf and the Focus. My point proven I think!
Now we need the occasional comparison with Vauxhall or Citroen or Alfa Romeo or Hyundai or Honda or Kia or.......... Then AE will have repented fully.

OK I can't argue with that! I guess the Golf references were a tad superfluous in this case and yes it would be nice to see a few more references to cars that don't get regular attention - if they are worthy of mention of course. Not your issue I know but unfortunately I have a new problem with this now as the part about the fuel efficiency being no better than a (generic eco tuned diesel small family car) has been completely removed which I see as a key issue - I would probably compromise on the gearbox/handling if there was a financial incentive for doing it but otherwise why bother?

I agree totally with your latest post being very much pro diesel. However it needs to be said that there are plenty of diesels around at least as good as those by VW which is another reason for a wider comparison


I test drove this car and it deserves so much better than a bog-standard 3-star review. It seems somewhat biased towards the Golf and the writers perspective for it being a 'drivers car'. It's a hybrid and it drives better than most would expect! This review may dull your expectation which is fine if you follow through and test drive it for yourself to make up your own opinion., I for one have placed an order!

VW are not going to cock up the new Golf launch with dodgy engines and DSG gearboxes. The early TSI engines had their problems and DSG when they weren't serviced at 40k miles. If VW don't have success with their flagship model then not much hope really.

The new Golf is stunning and drives amazingly. The new Auris looks smart but Toyota are unfortunate with the amount of recalls which has undoubtedly made a lot of people lose confidence.

Have you actually driven a "new" Golf?

Yes. Or I wouldn't comment..... give me some credit.

One never knows.

Hope they improve the power steering on these! We had on on Gran Canaria with only 60,000 km on the clock and just over 2 years old and its power steering simply locked up in a curve!

And no - neither Toyota or the Canaria dealer assisted on the repiar costs which were very costly!

There upon once it was repaired we changed our car! No more expensive to repair Toyota but a lovely well equipped KIA with a long 7 year warranty!

That says everything!

Toyota's recalls demonstrate a commitment to the customer, safety and after sales service - I find that reassuring. Some other manufacturers will deny everything until there is a string of fatalities

Key specs

  • Price: £21,745
  • Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl petrol plus electric motor
  • Power: 134bhp
  • Transmission: CVT, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 10.9 seconds
  • Top speed: 112mph
  • Economy/CO2: 74.3mpg/ 87g/km
  • Equipment: Xenon headlights, parking assist, cruise control, DAB radio, reversing camera
  • On sale: December