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Our Fleet Test Drive: 1st Report - Toyota Auris hybrid

Date: 13 August 2010   |   Author: Tony Rock

[3] Smart 17-inch alloys

A second hybrid has joined the BusinessCar fleet - we've already got a Honda Insight - but it's also something of a first.

The Toyota Auris hybrid is the first time a hybrid version of a standard car has been launched into territory most fleet drivers can afford, and Toyota is sensing an opportunity among those that want to minimise tax and fuel payments without some of the eco-warrior associations that maybe come with the more stand-out styling of the Prius or its Honda equivalents.

For, to the untrained eye, the hybrid Auris looks just like the petrol and diesel versions, not a special one-off green model. But peer closer and our 93g/km T-spirit-spec car features a couple of low-CO2 giveaways. The Toyota badge on the grill is tinted blue for the hybrid version [1], and on the inside a Prius-like gear selector [2] for the automatic transmission is in attendance. The boot is also 75 litres smaller than the regular Auris models at 279 litres, thanks to it housing the batteries, which enables the car to run on purely electric mode for 1.2 miles at up to 30mph before recharging by harnessing energy as the car slows or brakes.

Standard kit on this top-spec model includes cruise control, auto lights and wipers, smart 17-inch alloys [3], Bluetooth and leather interior for the £1500 over the T4 version. The only option we've added is the lovely pearlescent white paint at £610.

Fuel economy is an official combined figure of 70.6mpg, and the first couple of urban commutes in a car with only 160 miles on the clock showed promise, with the Auris showing off its ability to run without starting the engine for lengthy periods of queuing time.

The hybrid Auris also, as it should, feels like a proper lower medium car, rather than anything out of the ordinary. Over the next half a year we will find out whether it has provided another step towards hybrid's acceptance into the mainstream.