Toyota Auris HSD: First impressions

My first look at the Auris

It was with some trepidation that I approached the Auris. It would be the first hybrid I had driven and, besides testing the combined petrol electric system, I was intrigued to see what the continuously-variable transmission (CVT) would be like and whether it would make for a relaxing drive. I'd previously only driven older, less advanced, versions and they had been tiring and annoying.

First impressions from the outside were pretty good. Although the styling was bland it was smart and presentable and the only things that gave away the hybrid powertrain underneath was some blue detailing and a few HSD - Hybrid Synergy Drive - badges.

Inside, the Auris didn't disappoint - part leather seats, a chunky 'sports' steering wheel and a blue-backlit instrument cluster added a bit of flair to an otherwise plain interior. The seats were supportive and it felt like it would be more than comfortable for long trips.

What impressed me the most, however, was how much room there was for the driver. Not only was there plenty of headroom but there was lots of space in the footwell and a comfortable footrest - important when using a car for routine long-distance driving.

I was also pleased to see cruise control, which comes as standard on T Spirit trim cars, as it makes commuting much less tiring. It becomes even more important when you're just sitting on stretches of motorway for long lengths of time at constant speeds, like I do on a daily basis.

Getting comfortable in the Toyota took very little time with a range of seat and steering column adjustments allowing me to find the best position, while electric mirrors swivelled at the press of a button to give me a clear view of the road. Everything that I needed seemed to be obvious: a few seconds scanning the dash told me all I needed to know.

My first drive in the Auris would be a short 50-mile trip on the motorway after which I would start racking up the miles using it as my daily driver. The fuel consumption readout was already showing 47.4mpg, 23.2mpg less than the claimed 70.6mpg. This didn't immediately inspire confidence in the Auris' economy but, having not known how it was driven before, I diligently reset the readout to see what I could achieve.

Being a hybrid the Auris can run to a limited extent in all-electric mode but I'd forgotten this, due to its conventional appearance. I pressed the start button, expecting the noise of a conventional piston engine to fill the cabin, and was instead greeted with silence.

This, I thought as I weaved my way quietly out of the car park, has a certain appeal.......

Current mileage: 5,841

Average mpg: 47.4

Dash is relatively uninspiring but silver trim adds a bit of flash... do the blue gauges, which have neatly integrated displays.

Climate will keep the cabin cool - but will its use affect economy?