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Toyota’s British-built Auris hybrid challenges Prius for eco efficiency


Toyota‘s Auris HSD is the first mass-produced hybrid car to be built in Europe, being assembled at the Burnaston plant in Derbyshire. It is both smaller and cheaper than Toyota‘s better-known hybrid, the Prius, which is built in Japan.  

Auris hybrid

The Auris hybrid matches Prius’s impressive economy when equipped with 15-inch wheels and economy-biased tyres, setting an official score of 74.3mpg and 89g/km. Optional 17-inch wheels provide more grip but worse fuel economy, at 70.6mpg and 93g/km.Both Prius and Auris hybrids use the same powerplant: a 1.8 litre, 98bhp petrol engine coupled to an 80bhp electric motor, each capable of independently driving the front wheels through a variable-ratio gearbox, or combining to give a maximum of 138bhp. The electric motor doubles up as a generator, either drawing power from a bank of NiMH batteries to speed the car up or feeding power back to the batteries as the car slows down.

Auris is roughly the same size as a Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf and is designed to compete at the upper end of this market segment. The reasonably well-equipped T4 model costs from £18,950 on the road, while the more luxurious TSpirit costs from £20,700 and includes Bluetooth, keyless entry, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing lamps, leather and alcantara seats, a reversing camera and the aforementioned 17-inch alloy wheels. A built-in satellite navigation system at £1,200 and pearlescent paint at £610 are both optional.

Auris hybrid is significantly more expensive than Honda’s similarly sized Insight hybrid, but the Toyota is a superior product in at least two very important areas. The interior is more attractive and is made of higher quality materials, and the hybrid system is more powerful and much more effective at reducing fuel consumption.

 Both T4 and TSpirit versions of the Auris HSD emit significantly less than 100g/km according to official figures, and so qualify for a cost-free tax disc.

As a hybrid the Auris is currently exempt from the London Congestion Charge, once registered with Transport for London, and would remain exempt under proposed reforms to the charge that are currently under consideration.

The Auris hybrid currently enjoys a 10%cent BIK tax rating for company car drivers. The existing 5% discount for hybrid vehicles will cease from April 2011, however, bringing the Auris into line with other petrol vehicles emitting less than 130g/km, at a BIK rate of 15%.

Toyota has given the Auris hybrid four driving modes, accessed via buttons sited near the gear selector: normal, EV, eco and power.

Via BusinessGreen

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