By Wayne Gorrett, Majorca, Spain.
Appeals to the head – and perhaps the heart
☀ ☀ ☀
The UK’s compact estate market is a very busy place. Punching near its weight comes the new Toyota Auris Touring Sports with a very real advantage – it’s the only car in its class to currently offer a hybrid and, boasting 85g/km of CO2 and 76.3mpg, it has the efficiency and economy boxes indelibly ticked.
It is a handsome car from both front and side perspectives, but the recessed tailgate upsets the rear three-quarter visual balance. While the interior is functional, there is an odd mix of materials, shapes and finishes. Space is substantial though and Toyota has cleverly located the hybrid package so the car suffers no loss of luggage space compared with its conventionally powered siblings.
A sturdy 530 litres with seats up extends to an impressive 1,658 with the rear seats folded flat. Rear passenger leg and head room is adequate, but not class-leading.
There are four engine variants – two petrols, one diesel and a hybrid. The 136hp 1.8 petrol/electric Hybrid is the most attractive proposition. It sets off in full EV mode and can stay there in light city driving and coasting at higher speeds. As an EV and at a steady 60-70mph, it’s a very relaxing place to spend some time.
However, when you want to perform a rapid manoeuvre perhaps to overtake, the 100hp petrol engine kicks in and the high rev noise from the unit in conjunction with the quite docile CVT automatic is unpleasant. Gentle, planned, ‘look-ahead’ driving is demanded and the 4.56m car can feel floaty through even mildly twisty roads. The steering is uninformative and being a CVT there are no gear shifting options – one ‘go’ fits all.
To be honest, there is no justifiable reason to include ‘sport’ in its name, but the Auris Hybrid Touring Sports is a cavernous, good-value estate with a unique power train that will slash running costs for drivers downsizing from larger family estates like the Skoda Octavia and Vauxhall Insignia.
Available now from £15,795 to £23,245 with four specification levels, the Toyota Auris Touring Sports offers a highly compelling argument to the head – just don’t expect too much fluttering of the heart.