Toyota is keeping the interesting-at-last momentum up with the latest Auris range, by revealing the production-ready Auris Touring Sports range prior to its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month. First seen in surprise preview guise last September at Paris, the new model brings an estate offering to the Auris range for the first time.
And what a smart-looking thing it is. The Touring Sports name may be a bit of a mouthful, but in this case being a little different is justified, because this is much more than a dreary old Auris estate. It’s probably even more edgy and neat than the hatch, and that already is a surprisingly cohesive thing. Good on a revived Toyota for bringing something stylish to the wagon sector.
It’s even more noteworthy under the bonnet though. This, see, is the sector’s first full hybrid estate car, continuing the progressive mainstreaming of hybrid technology that, lest we forget, originally stated out only in the quirky and entirely bespoke Prius range.
Toyota Burnaston in Derby was geared up a few years ago to build the hybrid version of the Auris hatch, something that’s carried over to the new model, and now it’s also getting to build this new model, thus claiming another hybrid ‘first’ for it to no doubt boast about in the future.
The car’s arrival is good news for the UK then, and it’s also likely to be a more significant offer than you may think. Sector-first kudos should see the hybrid Auris estate take even more than a one-third split of sales claimed by the hatchback – indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me if the hybrid Auris Touring Sports actually took the majority of sales when it hits showrooms later this year.
Key to that is one remarkable stat – 86g/km CO2, better than any full size estate car on sale and the sort of figure some superminis can only dream of. Yet this is a full-size family car estate, with a massive 530-litre boot that stretches to a deeply commodious 1658 litres with the seats down. That is the same as non-hybrid versions of the Auris Touring Sports too, as the batteries are stored under the rear seats, not beneath the boot floor. No old-shape Lexus GS-style compromise here.
It also has clever one-touch fold-flat seats, a dual-level boot floor and a two-way tonneau cover. There’s even a 12v socket in the boot, should you wish to nick some power from those batteries for running something powerful from the car.
A most interesting green car then, and the hybrid is certainly greener than the still-reasonable diesel (109g/km) and the likely-to-be-so-so 1.6-litre petrol that pumps out 139g/km. Interestingly, Toyota also offers the 1.33-litre engine from the Yaris in the Touring Sports, which produces 127g/km CO2 and brings another green car measure to the new Auris estate, that of engine downsizing. Even if i still doesn’t beat Ford’s 1.0-litre Focus estate…
There are key benefits to hybrid over the others that Toyota’s bound to be pressing, mind – particularly compared to the diesels that dominate in this sector. It has both lower NOx emissions and much lower particulates, something that those with one eye on Euro 6 emissions legislation are becoming increasingly aware of.
We could even go one further and speculate that, once the NOx-reducing gear such as selective catalytic reduction technology is added on to today’s diesels, along with the diesel particulate trap that’s already fitted to them, the cost premium over petrol models may become pretty prohibitive. Making hybrids such as this actually the better-value CO2-reducing option? Wouldn’t that be something…
Mind you, the only thing we don’t actually yet know is how much it will cost. You can bet the hybrid models won’t be lower-end trims, meaning this is likely to be a more upper-sector estate, in line with the fact it’s not actually an estate at all, but a ‘Touring Sports’. Again though, this is less of an issue than it could be, simply because of that hybrid allure. Indeed, having a hybrid in the range may actually help all Touring Sports models gain traction more quickly than if they were plain old Auris estate.
Toyota has bold plans for the Auris range, with eyes on 5 per cent of the European family car sector from the full range by 2014. The estate is important here, but so is hybrid: most rivals still don’t offer hybrid alternatives, so Toyota is banking on the rollout of the technology it’s famous for into one of Europe’s largest car sectors to give it traction in a fearsomely competitive marketplace.
Will it work? I’d say the odds are good. Combining such a massive boot with such a low CO2 figure creates genuinely noteworthy appeal – that it also looks pretty good to (ahem) boot will also help the Auris Touring Sports to be noticed. We didn’t see it coming, but it’s one I’ll be watching with interest.