Toyota Auris HSD: Joins the fleet

Hybrid motivation

Hybrid versions of cars are becoming increasingly common, with every manufacturer claiming huge economy improvements and low emissions, obviously designed to entice in those who cover vast mileages or are concerned about the environment - but can these laboratory-established figures actually be achieved in the real world without driving like there's eggshells under the accelerator?

To answer that question, by joining the Parker's fleet for the next sixth months, is Toyota's latest hybrid - the Auris HSD. It's designed to offer Prius economy without making quite such a statement, both in terms of design and message, instead appealing to those more interested in economical motoring and less in green issues.

Outside it looks practically the same as a conventional Auris, with only subtle blue details and badging differentiating it from the standard model. Our car is the top-specification T Spirit model, with a 1.8-litre petrol engine, an electric motor and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). I'm hoping that the combination of a decent-sized petrol engine and the electric motor will give me enough power to make motorway cruising and overtaking a relaxed affair, while achieving sensible economy.

The Auris comes with electric heated door mirrors, stability control, adjustable steering wheel, electric windows and climate control, while the T-Spirit specification on our car adds cruise control, automatic headlights, alloy wheels, keyless entry, rain sensing wipers, a rear-view camera and part leather seats.

Toyota claims that it should be able to average 70.6mpg, while offering a maximum output of 134bhp. I'll be testing the car in a wide range of conditions, over several thousand miles, in order to find out what kind of economy and reliability the hybrid Auris can really deliver.

Current mileage: 5,178

Average mpg: 47.5