No PR Pickle for Toyota, writes Ian Mallon
TO GET the New Year off to a gallop we're going to learn how to make a 'Publicity Pickle', a bittersweet tipple which will either chase the blues away or leave an awful taste on the palate.
For this you will need one gamey celebrity carnivore, one shotgun, an Audi Q7 and a host of lifeless birds -- and I don't mean The Corrs.
Mix them all together, add one big smug smile and leave to bake very slowly for 24 hours, at which point a gaggle of curious badger-hugging types crawl out of the woodwork and express outrage.
What happens next is that the whole concoction gains a bitter twist, with the celebrity looking like Sarah Palin at a bear shoot and the car brand looking like it just shot Bambi's mother.
The key to the 'Publicity Pickle' that Audi finds itself in - thanks to Rachel Allen's decision to drape her St Stephen's Day bird slaughter across the bonnet of her free Q7 - is what happens next.
Will Audi take back the keys of the car that they just gave her before Christmas and make a statement about how it stands shoulder to beak with the poor ostracised birdie population?
Or will it sit back and bask in the glow of its inadvertent PR splurge, which proves that the Q7 is not for the peasants and is clearly a car for the elite, gentrified game shooting MILFs of this world.
The latter, I think.
One car which has no New Year's controversy is the Toyota Hybrid.
The latest version to follow the 'World's First Green Car' -- the Prius, is the Auris.
And while you're not likely to find too many of them down at the local post- Christmas hunt, you will find a more right-on kind of driver behind the wheel.
The Auris Hybrid carries on the brilliant traditions introduced to the market by the Prius at a time when the economy encouraged green motoring.
Now that there is no money around there is no clear and present danger to the environment, apparently.
The lack of cash in the pockets means that Toyota has come up with a Hybrid that has all the magic of the Prius, but with less expense.
The Auris has some pretty spectacular bonuses too, including a delicious 1.8 petrol engine to compliment the 82bhp electric unit, banging out an impressive 132bhp in total.
The luxury line comes with a quite sensational reversing camera in the rear view mirror -- it really has to be seen to be believed.
There are all the trimmings on this model including 17-inch alloys, multi information display and rear parking sensors to name but a few.
On-board comfort and sophistication are second to none, although I would have liked more storage space for coins, phone etc between the two front seats and a drinks holder would have been good too.
But all-told, from a mere €24,925 the Auris Hybrid is one PR job that won't come up smelling of dead meat.