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Jostling for attention in an increasingly busy compact estate market comes the Toyota Auris Touring Sports with a genuine USP: it's the only car in its class to offer a hybrid, and, boasting 85g/km of CO2 (10% BIK) and 76.3mpg, it's firmly targeting the business vote.
It's quite a handsome car from the front and side perspective, but the back's pushed-in tailgate spoils things. Inside, while the interior is functionally fine, it is also an aesthetic mishmash of materials, shapes and finishes. Space is huge, though. Toyota has cleverly packaged the hybrid elements so the car suffers no luggage space loss compared with its conventionally powered siblings. A sturdy 530 litres with seats up extends to a whopping 1658 with rear seats (easily) folded flat and various side and underfloor cubby holes filled. Rear-seat passenger room is fine, but don't expect Rav4 levels of knee room - this is a compact not large family estate after all.
Of the four engine variants - two petrols, one diesel and a hybrid (see 'Engine and trims', right, for details) - only two were available to test. The 132hp 1.6 manual offers a smooth ride and relatively little engine noise, as long as you don't try to thrash it (and with a 10.5-second 0-62mph there's really no point), but the 136hp 1.8 petrol/electric Hybrid is more important (60% of total sales) and hits the business sweet spot. It starts in full EV mode and can stay there in light city driving and coasting at higher speeds. In that mode it's wonderfully quiet, as it is at a steady 60-70mph. But between those two modes when the 100hp petrol engine kicks in and you need to press the accelerator firmly - to overtake, say - the high rev roar from the unit in conjunction with the CVT automatic is unpleasant. Gentle, planned manoeuvres are the order of the day, as the long car's body can feel wallowy through even mildly twisty roads. The steering lacks feedback and there are no shifting options, although selecting 'B' on the gear lever adds more brake regeneration to help control the car when you take the foot off the gas (and laudably without the jerks of other similar systems). Extra dash-mounted driving mode buttons - Power, EV and Eco - seem to offer negligible benefits, but even without employing full eco driving tactics we managed 57.6mpg on a mixed route.
There's nothing remotely sporty about the Auris Touring Sports then, but it is a commodious, good-value estate with a unique powertrain proposition that will slash tax for business drivers who no longer need or can afford bigger, large family estates like the Mondeo and 508. From £15,595 to £22,845 with good spec levels, it's a highly compelling costs proposition, just don't expect it to appeal to your drivers' hearts.
Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid Icon
Model price range
BIK 20/40% per month
Boot space (min/max)
Tax-friendly, spacious but lacks emotional or driver appeal.