Time to test drive the new 2014 Merc C-Class. Good enough to depose BMW's 3 Series?
Toyota Auris Hybrid: month four
On fleet since: November 2010
Total mileage: 2,390
Official combined mpg/CO2: 70.6mpg - 93g/km
Actual mpg: 43mpg
Costs: £0 so far
Engine: 1.8 DOHC VVT-i (98hp) / electric motor (80hp)
Trim: T Spirit
Performance: 0-62 in 11.4 seconds/112mph top speed
Insurance group: 13E
List price: £20,882
Options fitted: Pearlescent paint (£610), navigation pack (£1,200)
Price as tested: £22,691
Pros: Easy to drive and operate, build quality, low-speed refinement
Cons: Dull to drive, small boot, refinement at high revs.
Gallery: Toyota Auris hybrid
Read more Toyota car reviews
This was a car that was always up against it with the trip I was taking it on.
For my birthday last year, my fiancée gave me the wonderful gift of an Aston Martin driving experience. After looking at various racetracks I figured out the one that looked the most fun was Donington Park. So the Toyota Auris had the thankless task of taking me to Donington, sitting in the car park while I raced around in an Aston and then taking me home again.
This is a nice-looking car, I'm a fan of hatchbacks anyway and Toyota has done a decent job in not making this car look too much like a hybrid.
As much as I am a hatchback fan, I must admit to being slightly judgemental about the Auris being a hybrid and just what impact this will have on the drive and the car's performance.
It's a comfortable car to sit in and the dash looks well laid out with everything in place as it should be. Putting all these things together I found myself thinking, "It's like a Golf". It's hard to say whether I would have thought the same thing before Volkswagen's ad campaign with that tag line.
My first drive
Heading around central London, I'm happy with the Auris as a drive. The initial comfort stays and there is good visability out of the car - something I was particularly watching for after driving the Honda CRZ. When parking I found the gearbox rather fiddly.
With the batteries taking up boot space, there's not as much room as usual in the rear of the Auris. But for a weekend away for two, there is plenty of space. The Auris handles the city traffic well, nipping into spaces; the braking is sharp and the handling probably best described as safe.
Safe is a good overall description for the Auris, it does things well without being especially exciting. That's generally a good thing in a car.
I did find the engine sounded quite harsh under hard acceleration and it felt like the car wasn't particularly happy at high revs. While driving through the city that's not a major problem but once you hit the motorway it becomes more noticeable.
Driving up a quiet M1 in a car like this is very easy. It's fair to say that I began to look forward to blasting the Aston around Donington Park.
What a great day out and hats off to everyone at Donington's racing school for a very slick operation.
After a thorough safety briefing our group heads towards the pits; there are around 25 of us, but there's also a whole heap of cars waiting to be driven. Firstly we get a tour of the track thanks to David and a Mini Cooper S.
Fair play to David; he put in a fantastic two laps while talking us through the cone markings, which will help us with braking and accelerating at the right points.
As other drivers take their turns in Ferraris, Porsches, an Audi R8 and other Astons I patiently wait for my drive. Eventually I get into the Aston Martin Vantage and meet John, my instructor. After a brief chat about the car and a watch-word about the power, off I went.
I loved every minute of it and thoroughly enjoyed overtaking another Aston and a Lamborghini during my laps. I was annoyingly held up by a Mini Cooper for half a lap, but John told me to kick on for an extra lap because of it.
The Vantage was a great car to drive fast and in the controlled atmosphere of a racetrack. I really enjoyed putting my foot down and attempting to give the Aston big licks. If you enjoy driving I would whole-heartedly recommend that you have a go at a day like this. You'll love it.
After giving myself a bit of time to let the adrenalin wear off and calm down, it was time to get back into the Auris. As I said earlier, any car would be a struggle to drive after such fun.
In some ways, the Auris was actually a good car to get into. Once I sat back into its safe environment with its simple forward and reverse automatic gearbox, it was such a stark contrast that there was no chance of me forgetting myself and getting too carried away on the journey home.
I can't really dislike this car. I'm not blown away by it either, but I'm unlikely to find myself blown away by many hybrids at this stage of their development. The lowered suspension on this Auris does give it a sporty look, which is easy on the eye, and it is definitely an easy car to drive.
Would I buy one? I wouldn't write it off at this stage and for anyone considering a hybrid, I'd put this one ahead of the Prius.
Report 1: Toyota Auris Hybrid: arrival
Report 2: Toyota Auris Hybrid: month two
Report 3: Toyota Auris Hybrid: month three
Report 4: Toyota Auris Hybrid: month four (this report)
Report 5: Toyota Auris Hybrid: month five
Report 6: Toyota Auris Hybrid: final report
Review: Toyota Auris Hybrid
Gallery: Toyota Auris Hybrid
More Toyota car reviews
related stories on msn
Latest Cars videos
A new clip from Red Bull sees Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel explain the 2014 Formula One regulations – which are arguably the most complex the sport has ever seen. At the start, thousands of car parts simultaneously assemble around Dan to form the RB10. As Dan races to catch up Seb in his RB9, the World Champion’s car ... More A new clip from Red Bull sees Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel explain the 2014 Formula One regulations – which are arguably the most complex the sport has ever seen. At the start, thousands of car parts simultaneously assemble around Dan to form the RB10. As Dan races to catch up Seb in his RB9, the World Champion’s car becomes transparent while travelling at full speed. The film then presents a visual sequence that shows the 2014 regulation changes taking shape and coming to life, as Seb’s car transforms from an RB9 into an RB10. As well as providing information on the new technical changes for 2014, the clip also presents a unique view of the technology at work inside this year’s Formula One. Credit: Red Bull Racing
Date 14/03/14, Duration 3:27, Views 6809