This week we have the Toyota Hybrid that’s not a Prius – the Toyota Auris Hybrid – in for Review and Road test. Has the Hybrid come of age?
The Toyota Auris is not one of those cars that stick in the mind. It’s just there. It’s just another well-built Toyota. A slightly odd looking one with a slightly odd name, admittedly. But just a fairly non-descript Toyota, nonetheless.
Not that there’s anything wrong with not standing out. It’s exactly what a lot of car buyers want. For many, the idea of a car that shouts loudly is anathema. They want something almost invisible. The Auris does that commendably.
In fact it seems even more anonymous than its predecessor – the Toyota Corolla. And when it first arrived – all the way from Derbyshire – it really was just a Corolla with a new Body.
A new body and some new interior bits, it’s true. But a new body that hid a fairly mediocre suspension, and some rather dreary engines. And the inside didn’t exactly cover itself in glory, with some odd detail and less than tactile plastics.
The name didn’t help much either. How do you say ‘Auris’? Is it ‘Orr-iss’ or is it ‘Ow-Riss’? But Toyota wanted to put fresh air between the Auris and the Corolla, so the name was here to stay. But Toyota did decide to do something about the rest of the Auris.
Nothing major, mind you, just some titivating and improving. There was a new grill bolted on the front and the lights got a tweak – as did the bumpers. Nicer alloys made the Auris look more premium and better quality materials inside made it feel more premium too.
But what Toyota also did was revamp the model and engine range and introduce what we have this week – the Toyota Auris Hybrid. Yep, this is the love child of the Prius and the Auris – all Prius underneath and all Auris on top.
Which strikes us a a bit odd. Why would Toyota busy themselves sticking the Prius running gear in the Auris when there’s no clear light between the two cars? It seems like the only ones to lose from this move would be Toyota as the Auris Hybrid takes sales from the Prius.
Still, that’s Toyota’s problem. From a car buyer’s perspective it does make the hybrid option more mainstream. And more discreet. You’d be hard-pushed to know at first glance that the Auris Hybrid is anything different.
Yes, there are some HSD badges and blue bits round the logos, but that’s about it. Even the now much-improved interior doesn’t shout ‘Eco-Warrior’; it’s a much nicer place to be than before and feels a notch up from the cabin of the Prius, which can feel a bit low rent.
So the whole point of the Auris Hybrid must be to appeal to those who don’t want to shout about their eco-ness. People who want a Toyota that doesn’t shout anything but ‘Sensible Car’.
And if that’s what they’re looking for, the Auris Hybrid will suit perfectly.
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