The Driving team has been testing the three types of car with electric power: a Toyota Auris Touring (hybrid, below), a Volkswagen Golf GTE (plug-in hybrid) and a Renault Zoe (pure-electric). Which will prove the most practical solution during the winter months for three full-time workers with young families?
- Model 2017 Toyota Auris Hybrid Excel Touring Sports
- Motor 1,798cc four-cylinder petrol
- Power 91bhp @ 5,200rpm
- Torque 105lb ft @ 4,000rpm
- Electric motor power 80bhp (60kW)
- Electric motor torque 153Ib ft
- Maximum combined power 134bhp
- Top speed (NEDC lab test) 112mph
- 0-62mph 0-62mph 13.5sec
- Fuel consumption 70.6mpg
- CO2 emissions 92g/km
- Road tax£110 for first year; £130 a year for next five years
- Benefit in kind tax 17%; £909 or £1,818 (2017/2018; 20% or 40% tax payer)
- Price from £26,905
- Price with options£28,950
- Options fitted Leather seats (£950); Metallic paint – white pearl (£545); Panoramic roof (£550)
- Test period November, 2017 to April, 2018
- Starting mileage 1,374 miles
November 29, 2017: Introducing the Auris Hybrid
You know that feeling when a friend says, with a certain degree of smugness, “Hate to say I told you so”? Well, that friend is Toyota. And while it may seem hard to believe, it has been warning of the perils of diesel for two decades.
In 1997, Toyota launched the Prius. It was the first petrol-electric hybrid car to be built and sold in meaningful numbers. Then, ‘meaningful’ meant 1,000 a month.
Its mission was to persuade more motorists to adopt ‘clean’ hybrid technology. The company claimed that its emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide were just 10% of the levels demanded by Japanese regulations. Its CO2 emissions were also said to be significantly reduced compared with conventional petrol cars.
The Japanese car maker waxed lyrical about its creation: “Engineers closed their eyes and imagined a car that would change everything. It would do less harm to the environment by significantly reducing noise and emissions, and would maximise fuel economy beyond that of most vehicles. Now Toyota has realised that vision and you can park the future in your driveway.”
Today, my driveway has a Toyota Auris parked on it. It uses the same sort of hybrid powertrain that the Prius introduced, 20 years ago.
The original idea behind a ‘green’ hybrid system still stands today; namely, that it should be no different to driving a conventional car with an automatic gearbox.
That means it asks nothing different of the driver. So there’s no need for anyone to get their hands dirty, and plug cables into power sockets at home or public charging points.
Instead, the car’s petrol engine and electric motor work in harmony, and onboard technologies, such as regenerative braking, help keep the electric motor’s battery charged at all times. All you have to do is fill it with petrol from time to time.
Because it isn’t a diesel, it is increasingly seen as a socially acceptable everyday family car. And the road tax and company car tax are competitive. All of which partly explains why 10 million of drivers have bought a hybrid Toyota.
The leap from 12,000 sales in that first year, to more than 10 million today, suggests Toyota’s engineers had the clearest glimpse of the future of any car company.
The Auris Hybrid Touring Sports is Toyota’s equivalent to diesel-powered versions of the Ford Focus estate, Kia cee’d Sportswagon and Volkswagen Golf estate. It’s built in Britain, at Toyota’s plant in Burnaston, Derby, and costs from £22,085 with hybrid power.
This one on extended test comes in top-of-the-range Excel trim, which lifts the price to £26,905. With optional leather seats, metallic paint (white pearl) and a panoramic glass roof (which doesn’t open) the cost ends up at £28,950. In its first year of road tax, this hybrid costs £110, then £130 a year for the following five.
The serious savings start if you’re a company car driver. This Auris Hybrid attracts benefit in kind tax of 17%, versus 25% for the broadly equivalent VW Golf estate 2.0 TDI GT 150 DSG. It means a 40% tax payer would have to hand over £1,818 for the Toyota, during the 2017/2018 tax year, whereas the VW would be £2,714.
At such an early stage of proceedings, there’s little point looking into the real-world fuel economy of the hybrid system. Toyota promises a combined economy figure of 70mpg, but it will take some practice to get it anywhere near that. We live in the Kentish countryside, and the twisting, rolling nature of local roads is going to test to the limit this car’s ability to make fuel go as far as possible.
First impressions are of a very quiet car that has steering and suspension tuned for comfort. Performance is best described as lethargic. The petrol tank is on the small side (just 45 litres; a Golf diesel estate holds 50 litres), but perhaps this is in order to create the vast, 675-litre boot – which shames plenty of estate cars from the class above. Rest assured, it will be put to good use; with three children and two dogs, this estate car will be worked hard.
Aside from the real-world fuel economy and associated running costs, the burning question for many drivers is whether Toyota’s hybrid system is as easy to live with and nice to drive as a diesel-powered family car.
I’ll be answering that, and more besides, in further updates on this page.
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