The 2014 Toyota Auris Hatchback is Toyota’s latest entry into the hybrid market that its Prius already dominates. Along with its half sibling, the just released Toyota Auris Touring Sport, the company says that it represents a new direction for their already successful hybrid division. But is the new entrant into the already slightly over-saturated hot hatch market worth giving a second look?
Both of the Auris hybrid models boast the Hybrid Synergy Drive system, which features a 1.8-litre VVT-i petrol/gas engine and an electric motor that offers a maximum power output of 134bhp/100kW.This translates into a rather respectable for a hybrid top speed of 120 mph and a 0-60 time of 10.9 seconds, not so speedy, but not horrifically slow off the mark either. In terms of fuel efficiency both the Hatchback and the Touring Sport manages a combined fuel economy is 61.9 mpg-US/74.3 mpg-imp.
In terms of the drive, the 2014 Toyota Auris handles well enough and does everything that it is supposed to. It does feel a little clunkier than other cars in its class but it corners efficiently and holds the road well. At lower speeds the engine is almost as quiet as an all-electric vehicle but as the revs have to climb to build speed it does get a little noisier.
The Auris’s dash locates all of the important controls neatly and within easy reach for most drivers and overall it is very user friendly. The exception is the touch-screen infotainment system, which is rather slow to respond and not at all that intuitive. Unfortunately the visibility in the rear is not really that great either, as the rear window itself is very shallow.
The one thing that is a must for a good hatchback, traditional or hybrid, is that it provide good storage along with comfortable passenger accommodations in a reasonably small space. Here, the Auris comes into its own.
It is not as physically spacious as the biggest of its biggest, but there is plenty of head- and legroom for everyone and even the rear seat backrests recline individually, something that is a very nice touch. The Auris also accommodates three back passengers in more comfort than most of the competition, thanks to the fact that it has a totally flat floor.
The Auris’ trunk space is well sized and efficiently shaped an a rather ingenious floor allows you to split the space in two.
There are two trim levels for the 2014 Toyota Auris Hybrid (as compared to four in the traditional gasoline engine class) In order of luxury (and price) they are the Sport and the Excel. Both feature air-conditioning, electric windows, remote locking and a CD player as well as DAB radio and alloy wheels. Bumping up to the Excel trim adds automatic headlights and windshield wipers and a leather-trimmed dashboard.
The 2014 Toyota Auris Hatchback is currently only slated to be sold in the UK and European markets. In the UK it is not necessarily bargain priced at £22,145, but it is already proving popular as a company car choice, based of pre-orders, in the UK, thanks to the excellent fuel economy and relative ease of maintenance.