20.5.2010 New Auris hybrid on test in Spain
This week Toyota has been road testing their most advanced hybrid compact hatchback, the Auris hybrid, in Spain.
The Auris, with Hybrid Synergy Drive, has been taken through a combination of suburban streets, motorways and windy hill climbs; enough to put any modern car's performance and handling to the test. The Auris has been reported to have tackled the conditions well, but did it live up to expectations?
The first day of Auris testing took the hybrid through a vast range of road conditions, from city centres to open roads and hill climbs. The fuel economy figure averaged 5.1 mpg short of the official combined figure (70.6 mpg for the Auris hybrid T Spirit with 17 in wheels) - this was a reasonable result considering the nature of the route adopted and the drivers constant need for air conditioning!
The Auris was then tested in a city centre environment; for this the ECO drive mode was selected. Stretches of the journey were completed in full electric mode, a feature that only a full hybrid is capable of. After 40.9 km of largely city driving, an average fuel economy figure of 68.9 mpg (4.1 l/100km) was clocked. This figure fell 1.7 mpg short of the Auris' official value. Other Auris testers in Barcelona reported figures that were exceeding the official fuel economy figures.
A last test stretch was needed, POWER drive mode had to be explored. At the single push of a button there is a 25% increase in throttle response, and overall improved performance. 60.1 mpg (4.7 l/100km) was achieved over a 25.3 km stretch, a drop of 8.8 mpg from the official combined figure.
The Auris was certainly tested over a challenging range of road conditions, but will it live up to its predecessor, the Prius? In each section of the test the Auris did fail to reach the official fuel economy figures, but only just. Maybe more common road conditions would reveal more impressive mpg figures? Other tests that were also conducted in Spain did record figures that exceeded to official figures.
Toyota has also revealed that their cutting edge technology hybrid will come with a price tag of £18,950 on the road, for the T4 specification. The top spec equivalent, T Spirit, will be priced at £20,700, which comes with additional extras such as smart entry and start, and rear view camera display in the rear view mirror.
It is probably fair to say that many were hoping for a more affordable option from Toyota. Compared to a T4 Prius at £21,160 or the T Spirit Prius at £22,610, the much smaller Auris is only around £2,000 cheaper. Also at £18,935;, the top spec Honda Insight costs essentially the same as the basic spec Auris model. With the Auris available from 1st July this year, only time will tell how popular Toyota's new hybrid offering will be.
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