Ahead of their imminent refresh, Jonathan Musk gets reacquainted with these stalwarts of the hybrid car scene; the Toyota Auris and Lexus CT 200h…
Toyota and Lexus are undergoing a bit of a change at the moment, with their Auris and CT 200h hybrids respectively commanding a good chunk of sales for each company and each receiving model refreshes at about the same time. However, do the existing models make more sense and are they a relative bargain as Toyota and Lexus give them each discounts ahead of their replacements?
It’s an interesting question to ask, as it’s actually further reaching than Toyota and Lexus. For many, buying a new car is the be-all and end-all. It’s a way of specifying a car to how they want it to be. It has no unknown history, no long-lost hidden gummy bear sweets stuck under the rear seats and the promise of nothing going wrong. The reality is far from this. While a new car is, of course, a delightful thing to buy and drive, the novelty soon wears off. The reality is that cars ending their first-owner lease are generally a sound buy and the typical depreciation hit has already been absorbed, so buying a three-year-old model can make a lot of sense. Likewise, so can buying an end-of-the-line model, such as the Auris and CT 200h. These are cars at the end of their production run, when the factory workers have turned putting them together into an art. When the engineers have ironed out all the teething problems over the years. When the cars have been bundled with all the mod cons to keep sales afloat. There’s no question, these are sound buys. Add to that the fact they’re very often discounted towards model replacement, because old stock doesn’t sit well and these are some great purchase options.
The new generation Auris will be offered only with petrol and HEV powertrains; similar to the decision Toyota took with C-HR in 2016, there will be no diesel version.
Back to the Auris and CT 200h then. How do they stack up? Very well, as it happens. Each benefits from the tried and tested Toyota hybrid system with Atkinson-cycle 1.8-litre petrol four-pot.
Arguably, Toyota’s Auris has stood the test of time better than the Lexus, with all-but identical infotainment system to that found in the latest C-HR crossover – whereas the CT 200h’s setup is a touch more outmoded. Likewise, the Auris’ cabin is by the neater and logical by contrast to the airplane-like mass of buttons found strewn across the dashboard in the CT 200h. But in many other ways, despite the obvious similarities, these two cars are different kettles of fish; Mackerel and Salmon, if you will.
So, the Auris. More than 50% of European Auris sales are for the hybrid model and since December 2017, only the 1.2-turbo petrol or 1.8-litre hybrid have been available, with diesel having been dropped from the lineup. The next (third) generation Auris might be equipped with Toyota’s latest 2.0-litre hybrid setup, which offers greater power but that’s not to dismiss the 1.8 as old hat, as – for now – it remains the powertrain fitted to the Prius and C-HR.
Our model was the ever-useful Touring Sports Wagon, a.k.a. estate, that offers a bit more practicality over the regular hatchback. I’m not personally a big fan of estate cars, as I prefer something more compact, but I must say this ticked a lot of boxes. It is large without being cumbersome and the reversing camera, albeit low-resolution, made manoeuvring easy. Nice touches like a roller parcel shelf that can also go up the sides of the D-pillars to allow for cumbersome or tall loads in the 672-litre boot. Fold the rear bench down and that increases to 1,658-litres, which is a lot. Oddly, Toyota appears to have hidden the battery better in the Auris than in the Prius, which has always suffered from a relatively high boot floor.
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