Last week I shared with you my first few days of driving a hybrid vehicle. In this blog, I’ll finish that story and give you some facts about the car.
There was a hard frost so another new challenge. The car took a bit longer to clear than I’m used to but once it got going it defrosted very quickly (I’m a engine on, scraper kind of driver as I don’t like the chemical stuff).
I just tootled around town from meeting to meeting and I used hardly any petrol. This car is definitely very good around town. I also find I’m getting used to the automatic and don’t really have to think about it.
Parking is fine but – being so quiet – I’ve noticed that other road users and pedestrians DO NOT HEAR this car. It has made me even more vigilant.
My home is near a popular cycle route in Swindon and it quickly became obvious that cyclists don’t know you are there and they don’t modify their behaviour or road position.
Several people liked the look of the car and have admired it. The children love the space as my own car is small. They feel it’s spacious and smooth with lots of flashing lights.
In the dark, when you open the car, the dash lights your way which is very appealing.
On my last day, the Toyota Auris Hybrid took me very smoothly to Devizes where I drove around for ages trying to find a long stay car park as it was an all day event.
It turned out to be one of those days where I had to move the car around town twice due to there not being any long stay parking spaces available. Each time I looked forward to getting in it.
I also really like the fact it has front parking sensors – my own car doesn’t – and the wing mirrors also automatically fold when it’s locked. This does two things – reduces the risk of them being knocked in a car park and gives you confidence that you’ve locked the car. It’ s a clear visual clue. My own car does not do this and I feel it’s a bonus to have folding mirrors.
At the end of the working day, I drove the car back to Andrew and must admit I felt a bit sad. I suppose the real question is – would I buy a hybrid car?
The answer is yes, I’d definitely consider it when the time comes. In the five days I’d driven it, I used half a tank of petrol. Given I’d been all round Swindon, across Wiltshire and a longer journey to Cardiff, that’s less fuel consumption than I’d normally expect.
There is also a slight feel good factor that you are trying to do something more positive for the environment. There are also vehicle tax advantages – though the tax on my current car is only £30 a year.
All in all, I was grateful for the opportunity to try the car and would like to thank Andrew Crosby of Fish Brothers Toyota for the opportunity. If you’d like to find out more – please contact Andrew, or one of his colleagues, by calling 01793 467525.
Toyota Auris Hybrid factfile:
Cost – Hybrid range from £20,045 OTR.
Fuel consumption – Up to 78.5 mpg combined.
Engine size: 1.8 petrol + electric motors and battery – total output 136 hp, automatic transmission.
Service intervals: 10k miles or 12 months whichever comes first.
Warranty from new: 5 years or 100k miles.
CO2 from 79 g/km; 13% BIK for company car driver; £0 road tax.
When I arrived to meet Andrew Crosby from Fish Brothers Toyota in Swindon I was in for a shock.
In my mind, I’d be tootling around town in a small two-door hybrid vehicle, my first ever experience of a car powered by batteries and petrol.
The car was brought around and it was, to me, a large family car, four door with an enormous boot. It was a Toyota Auris Hybrid in white.
Not going into too much technical detail it has a battery at the back, an engine at the front and the two work in tandem to offset each other depending on the driving conditions and speed. It’s an automatic which was a new thing for me – as I’d never driven one before.
The electric batteries power the car only for a short distance, around 1.5miles but it kicks in and out as you progress through slow moving traffic. Until you drive such a vehicle over a number of days, you have no real clue as to how useful (and eco friendly) this is. Believe me, I’ve been educated, the electric power kicked in a lot.
So two challenges in one day, driving a new type of vehicle and getting used to keeping my left foot still. Andrew took me for a test drive, stayed with me while I had a go and then I was on my own.
By the way and I’ll say this upfront, this car also parks itself but I knew at this stage, I just didn’t have the bottle to try to parallel park relying on the car. I need a space big enough to park a jet in at the best of times, and I couldn’t quite bring myself to trust the car to do it for me.
As I drove the car back home to my office, the first thing which hits you is that it’s so quiet. So very quiet that you almost feel as if the car has stalled when you stop and you initially feel out of control, as if you are coasting in neutral. It’s quite a big mental hurdle to overcome. I knew this would take some time to deal with – every person who got in the car with me commented freely on how quiet it was.
You don’t realise how much you rely on listening to your car and its sounds, until those sounds are not there.
My first proper ‘outing’ was the school run which took me a couple of miles from my central Swindon home. Once again, starting the car demonstrated how silent it is – and at this stage it still feels very strange.
The electric power is engaged at very low speed and when in traffic (which is often in Swindon) so far so good. It’s a smooth ride but I had a couple of niggles. The clock favours the passenger so it’s hard to see and I realise I check the time a lot. In my own car the clock is more central and slightly down to my left, I’m so used to looking at it, having to look elsewhere is odd.
Also there is a compartment or elbow rest next to the driver’s seat which is at the wrong level for me. It would be at the right level if you were taller – but I kept banging my elbow on it.
I’ve had this before in other cars – my current car doesn’t have this arm rest and my previous car had one which could be moved backwards.
Solution? Keep the lid open all of the time.
Day Two was a real test for the car as it was a busy day out and about around town then off to Cardiff for an event and overnight stay.
From early morning the car took me to West Swindon, Old Town, Royal Wootton Bassett and Purton. It performed well and is a dream to drive because it’s such a smooth ride. I’ve not noticed any real loss of power – my own car is a 2 litre and this one is a 1.8. However it doesn’t have the acceleration of my own car and I’m still getting used to that slight delay as the automatic moves through the gears ‘on its own’.
The rear view mirror is a bit narrow for my liking – although the car has a reversing camera. As I know quite a bit about cameras, they are great for some reverse moves but the truth is the perspective is distorted and you cannot see the sides. Therefore I’m reluctant to rely soley on the camera.
Written as I sit in the hotel in Cardiff prior to my first meeting of the day. Yesterday I had travelled to the city in the most appalling weather conditions, pretty scary in a car you don’t know well.
It performed well and was smooth though occasionally felt buffeted by the very strong winds. Having said that, any car would have been bounced by the high winds and driving rain.
The car got me safely to two meetings in different parts of the city. As most of the journey was with petrol on the M4, fuel consumption seemed about the same as normal. It appears that around town you use very little fuel, but on a longer journey, the petrol is used up very much at the same rate as my existing car which is a diesel.
One thing is that it can be easy to speed in this car because it’s so quiet. As I was trying to find my way to my first meeting in central Cardiff, I was flashed by a static camera. No excuses here – it’s my fault for going too fast but I just hadn’t realised I was over the speed limit until it was too late. And yes, I was caught on camera doing 35 in a 30mph zone and am now awaiting my fate.
I’m not blaming the car for this but please take this as a warning. If you are considering purchasing a car such as this, give yourself a good few days to get used to it’s ‘sounds’ or lack of them. This is especially if you are driving in an area which is unfamiliar.
Also I did have some problems with the blue tooth audio, it kept cutting out and I’m not sure why. This was while travelling in Wiltshire – I didn’t use the blue tooth on the way to Cardiff, the weather was simply too appalling to talk to anyone on the phone. Radio was fine though.
I must admit I’m not keen on the cover of the steering wheel as it’s very smooth – I personally prefer something with more grip. But that’s a very personal preference.
The boot is great, could easily fit a pushchair and bags. My overnight bag, business banner, laptop and other paperwork was utterly lost in the space.
Next week – part two – my last two days and a fact file on the Toyota Auris Hybrid.