Auris Hybrid leaves its rivals green with envy
THE strangest thing happens the minute you sit behind the wheel of the Auris Hybrid.
A feeling of calmness and serenity washes over you and all is well in the world.
That contentment continues unabated as one takes off in glorious silence on the first leg of your journey ... to save the planet.
Now, I don't know whether it's the electric motor with its faint space-age whirs or the graphic readout congratulating your eco- conscious driving but one develops an air of unashamed smugness.
The lighter your right foot the more righteous you become almost to the point where you look at other drivers with utter contempt.
That becomes apoplectic rage when one encounters a poor unfortunate behind the wheel of a 4X4 or an SUV.
You see with its outstanding green credentials which boasts the lowest CO2 emissions (93g/km and €160 annual road tax) of any petrol or diesel in the C- Segment and fuel economy of almost 71mpg -- it's hard not to get a bit uppity.
Adding to that bullish arrogance is the build quality of the cabin which is superb.
We were expecting the usual Toyota fare of hard, unattractive plastics and dull upholstery. Not here.
A snazzy, soft padded pin-holed material covers the dash while the clocks and surrounding switches have more of a Lexus feel to them.
This is especially evident with the dainty gear lever on the CVT (Constant Variable Transmission) gearbox which is finished in the same light blue that adorns the boot and bonnet badges.
The instrument dials are like something out of the Starship Enterprise and instead of a rev counter, a special gauge tells the driver whether the car is regenerating power, running on battery or using the petrol engine.
A colour reversing camera situated in the left corner of the rear view mirror is a brilliantly simple yet effective touch.
Drive-wise its a mixed bag with three different selectable settings. For full electric the EV button is ideal for heavy traffic and the 82bhp motor can travel at speeds of around 30kph (manual states 45kph) for a distance of 2 kms.
Eco Mode starts you off on electric and switches to petrol should you exceed the speed or distance. Then there is Power mode giving 25pc more throttle response should you need to overtake.
All three deliver a smooth, comfortable ride but one can't but feel like its too much like hard work selecting one or the other and the noise is considerably louder from the 1.8 litre, 136bhp engine with hard acceleration.
Economy is second to none around town but as soon as you hit a motorway at cruising speeds, the mpg falls significantly.
In fact, if you've got a commute of over 80kms, a diesel will probably serve you better.
It'd be cheaper too as the Hybrid comes with a premium price tag starting at €25,750 -- almost €6,000 more expensive than the standard 5-door Auris.