From the iconic Prius to the super-frugal Yaris HSD, Toyota with its burgeoning range of hybrids, is changing the way people drive.
However, a nagging myth that persists around environmentally-friendly vehicles is their power or rather, perceived lack of it. Toyota has ‘tuned’ into this and thanks to advanced electronic mechanisms which intelligently strike the ideal balance between performance and efficiency according to the driver’s needs, has answered this concern.
Case in point is the all-new Auris HSD (Hybrid Synery Drive) which was recently launched onto the South African market. Built at Toyota’s manufacturing facility in the UK, it’s anticipated that this latest eco-warrior’s European sales mix will be approximately one third full hybrid. Generating class-leading emissions of just 87 g/km, virtually no NOx or particulate matter, the new Auris Hybrid also delivers significant cost of ownership benefits arising from lower taxation in many European countries as well as reduced service and maintenance charges.
But as Kerry Roodt, General Manager of Marketing Communications, points out, it delivers so much more: “The Auris HSD entrenches Toyota’s position as the standard for green motoring by offering a level of refinement, practicality, performance and affordability that rivals conventional petrol and diesel cars. It also thrusts the newcomer into the forefront as a mainstream proposition, accessible to the largest possible audience.”
Hybrid-specific Exterior Design
The Auris Hybrid shares the same dynamic exterior styling and extensive interior re-modelling introduced with the new Auris. However, hybrid models (in mid XS trim and high-grade XR guise) go a little further by incorporating unique detailing to identify them as the flagships of the model range.
For instance, the lower grille and lower rear bumper diffuser are finished in a hybrid-exclusive graphite metallic paint colour, and the Toyota bonnet and tailgate logos are in hybrid blue. There are hybrid logos on the front wings and a hybrid mark on the tailgate. The rear combination lamps incorporate hybrid-only LED lights.
Both 15” silver (XS) and 17” graphite (XR) alloy wheels are of a new design unique to the Auris Hybrid.
Hybrid-specific Interior Design
It goes without saying that Auris Hybrid models benefit from the same all-new interior design with more space, greater comfort and improved sensory quality including extensive use of soft-touch materials and leather for improved tactility.
A repackaging of the battery pack under the rear seat means that luggage capacity is now equivalent to that of other models in the range (a class-leading 360 litres).
The Auris Hybrid has an exclusive meter and Eco Drive Support monitor design within the driver’s instrument binnacle, a hybrid blue shift-by-wire gear lever and hybrid-exclusive instrument panel ornamentation.
XS grade versions feature premium quality cloth trim and a hybrid blue brushed aluminium instrument panel finish, whilst high grade XR models boast Ice Grey leather dashboard inserts accompanied by leather upholstery.
Improved Driving Dynamics
Reinforcing Toyota’s commitment to improving the dynamic ability of its vehicles, the new Auris range, including the Hybrid versions, has been designed to offer drivers a more engaging experience. Here’s a summary of some of the chassis revisions that have contributed to its new-found handling prowess:
The big differentiator with Hybrid Auris models is the adoption of a double wishbone rear suspension system. This system has been revised to incorporate optimised trailing arm bush characteristics and, as with the front suspension, newly developed coil springs and shock absorbers featuring reduced spring rates and enhanced damping. In combination these measures have improved ride comfort, stability and handling.
Full Hybrid System Performance
One thing hybrids can do is produce generous amounts of horsepower. To contextualise the new Auris HSD’s powertrain, think of the electric motor as an energy-boosting addition to the petrol engine - alone the electric motor generates torque of 207 Nm; this is supplemental to the 142 Nm generated by the petrol engine at 4000 rpm.
Capable of operating both independently and in combination, the HSD system’s 1.8 litre VVT-i petrol engine and electric motor generate a maximum power output of 100 kW, equipping the Auris Hybrid with a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 10.9 seconds and a maximum speed of 180 km/h.
Thanks to the improved aerodynamic performance and lighter weight of this next generation model the Auris Hybrid’s remarkably low CO2 emissions have improved by 2 g/km to 87 g/km (with 15” wheels). In addition, the Auris Hybrid generates virtually no NOx and particulate matter emissions.
Moreover, when operating in the unique, switchable pure electric vehicle (EV) mode not available to mild hybrid vehicles, the Auris Hybrid generates zero CO2, NOx and particulate emissions, driving for up to two kilometres continuously at speeds of up to about 50 km/h, dependant on battery charge and driving conditions.
The Auris Hybrid’s powertrain is designed to eliminate the need for the petrol engine as often as possible during city driving. Toyota’s own data show that the cumulative effect of full hybrid operation leads to high proportions of zero-emissions driving.
Improved Hybrid Synergy Drive – An Even More Compelling Proposition
The control logic of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system’s seamless, planetary gear (CVT) transmission has been modified to give a smoother, more natural feeling to vehicle acceleration, with a closer relationship between vehicle speed and engine revs.
Advanced engine technologies include a cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system, an electric water pump, the elimination of the auxiliary drive belt, a reduction in piston ring tensional force and the optimisation of oil pump capacity.
When used in combined with a cooled EGR system, the Atkinson cycle engine offers significant gains in fuel efficiency and the reduction of emissions.
In the Atkinson cycle, compression and expansion are asymmetrical, and the inlet valves close late, which delays compression. This creates a high expansion ratio for less compression, converting combustion energy to engine power more effectively. As a result, the exhaust temperature is lower than that of conventional engines. The cooled EGR system reintroduces cooled exhaust gas into the intake system, further reducing engine operating temperatures.
The adoption of an electric water pump both enhances engine warm-up performance and reduces cooling friction loss, improving fuel efficiency. The elimination of the auxiliary drive belt reduces friction, further improving fuel economy.
With the repackaging of the battery pack under the rear seat, the cooling air intake is relocated from the side of the seats to the seat undercover area. This relocation allows for a lower intake air temperature, enhancing battery cooling and, hence, efficiency. Not forgetting, of course, that now boot space is exactly the same as petrol versions.
Simple Intelligent Park Assist (SIPA)
Fitted as standard on both XS and XR variants, the new Auris HSD features Simple Intelligent Park Assist (SIPA); an Easy Set function making it easier and significantly quicker to use.
The system uses ultrasonic sensors on the front and rear side-bumpers to identify viable parallel parking spaces. It will then automatically apply the correct sequence of steering angles for the parking manoeuvre into the target space without any steering input from the driver; all the driver needs do is control the vehicle’s speed.
Enhanced Hybrid Equipment Specification
In keeping with the Hybrid’s elevated status in the model range, even the XS model is stacked in the kit department. As mentioned, externally, both the XS and XR grades get a hybrid-specific front spoiler, daytime running light system as well as front fog lights. XR models are further enhanced by the panorama glass roof (with electric sun cover), rear side window privacy glass and 17” graphite alloys.
Hybrid-specific interior décor includes automatic air conditioning, display touch-screen audio with Bluetooth, multi-information display with unique hybrid instrumentation featuring blue backlighting, reverse camera, steering switches, leather steering wheel, Smart Entry, electrochromatic rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers and a special metallic finish dashboard insert for XS models.
XR grade versions push the standard equipment envelope even further thanks to additional niceties in the form of separate temperature controls for driver and passenger, front seat heaters with electric lumbar support for the driver, Push Start system, cruise control, and bespoke Ice Grey leather upholstery.
Rigorously assessed for performance and durability, and backed up by over 14 years of in-service experience, the full hybrid battery is designed to last the entire life of the car. The new Auris Hybrid benefits from a three year/100,000km warranty, extended to eight years/195,000km on hybrid system components, including the battery. As with other Auris models, the new HSD range comes with a standard five-year/ 90 000 km service plan. The new models are also supported by the ToyotaCare Roadside Assistance Programme which entitles customers to 24-hour roadside assistance, ensuring ultimate peace-of-mind motoring.