What my car has to do
Every week I drive my Auris Hybrid out of central London for over three hours for work purposes. I then do the return 3 hour journey later in the week. For me this car has to do everything from congestion zones in central London to motorways and country roads.
As with all hybrids this Auris Hybrid T-Spirit from £21,675 is far more expensive than Toyota's standard Auris which can be from as little as £12,995. However with no road tax to pay and an efficient use of Petrol the idea is you make your money back over time. In London it currently qualifies for free congestion charge and in my London borough my parking permit is £30 rather than the standard £120! Plus you get to do your bit for the environment. For me it was an economically driven decision with an environmental plus.
I also made a point of getting a deal, pushing the salesman and travelling a bit further for a more competitive deal on an ex-demonstration model. This is really worth it and although you may not chose the exact interior you want etc for 25% off the list price it's worth it! As this is a new car it is difficult to establish the depreciation on it. So far I believe the Prius has managed to hold its value fairly well in the second hand market.
When purchasing I was told by the dealer that it would do up to 1mile at 30mph on the electric engine. I can safely say I have managed to get to 45mph purely on the electric motor and I have certainly gone more than a mile at 30mph on the electric as well. Toyota also offer a 7 year warranty on the electric battery to give you confidence it will last. As I had never had a hybrid car before this was a big reassurance to me. I am yet to drive the car in the winter but have been reassured that it will cope with starting in the cold/snow...we will see.
I was concerned that driving in urban areas, pedestrians and cyclists would not hear it and merrily cross/cruise in front of or into the side of me. Having driven it for sometime now I have never had this happen to me. Another thing that has been said by friends driving the car is that it calms down your driving style because it makes you focus on fuel efficiency etc. Having said this the fuel "efficiency" vs power pay off in other cars can be excellent eg BMW
Another concern before purchasing was that the car would not have any acceleration. Not for ridiculously fast driving but to enable you to overtake and pull out of slip roads etc. I can confidently say the acceleration is fine, you never get the same from an automatic as a geared car but I have had no problems despite regularly stopping at petrol stations with short run offs on A roads. One off putting thing is the whining sound the engine makes when you put your foot down rather the growl you get in geared cars for this petty reason it loses a star.
Miles per gallon
Toyota advertise this as up to 70mpg. I have only managed to get to this when driving in urban areas i.e 30mph speed limits and I rarely use the air conditioning. Realistically it is possible to get 70mpg but as a careful and non-aggressive driver I rarely get to it.
Car spec etc
My Auris is an Auris T-Spirit Hybrid which is the most expensive model available. There are two other models in this range both called T4's. One of the T4's has less power and therefore is slightly cheaper. My car is an ex-demonstration model bought from a Toyota dealer when it was 3 months old and is now 6 months old. The car is an automatic like all of Toyota's hybrids.
Features I really like are the reversing camera which comes up in the rear view mirror when you put the car into reverse. This camera is not visible at all when not in use i.e there is no annoying line/blemish on the mirror when not in use. Living in central London I appreciate the parking sensors on the back of the car as well though I would say they are a bit too sensitive. There are other little "extras" you get on this model and a full spec list is available on the Toyota website.
I would also say that initially I found the steering very light and the brakes very sharp, I have now got used to both and neither were exactly a "problem" with a new car.
I cannot honestly say I would pay the extra for the pearlescent paint that my car has. It does look really good when the sun's shining particularly with the tinted windows in the back but for hundreds of pounds more it cannot be worth it. The tinted windows are good as it is very difficult to see what you have in the boot/back seat but again I doubt I would have paid for this. With the deal I got I managed to neutralise the "cost" of these extras. A big plus point is that this car does not look like a hybrid. In my opinion it looks far better than the Prius which is larger and more of a boxy style.
So far I've got a men's 22" mountain bike in it no problems as the back seats go perfectly flat. I also regularly get two full grown Labradors in the boot for short journeys or put one in the passenger foot well and the other in the boot to give them space for longer journeys.
It is a comfortable 4 door car ideal for 4 people on long journeys, the only problem maybe where to put the luggage. The boot does have a removable bottom which reveals and extra area to store things. The spare wheel is then below this additional space which also has a bit of room around it. Whilst in the front you get some good storage space thanks to a double glove compartment, a lot of people do not even spot the larger lower one. Plenty of side pockets etc for car sweet stashes.
Inside the top glove compartment is a USB connector where you can plug in your generic mp3 device which will then play through the car's stereo system. The steering wheel also has a really useful volume/track/radio and hands free controls which your phone can link into via Bluetooth etc.
It also sports a cruise control system which is very easy to use and get used to. I have used cruise control in other cars before which operated slightly differently but all in all a good addition if you're doing long distances on motorways.
By far the best features are the automatic wipers and automatic lights. I have found both to be a huge benefit on my longer journeys and would certainly pay the extra for these features.
Overall - love this car but only makes financial sense if you do a lot of urban driving to make the most of the hybrid engine and also the tax/other cost breaks. If you're considering a hybrid go and have a test drive then get number crunching. (For me, running this car works out cheaper than getting trains everywhere.) I hope this review is helpful and if you have any questions/comments please message me.