Recently I’ve been testing the Toyota Auris hybrid and it got me thinking about the power that transports me and my family from A to B. There are now four ways that a car can be powered; Petrol, Diesel, Electricity and Hydrogen (the latter isn’t for sale in Ireland and isn’t ready for retail yet). Today I’m having a look at what type of engine best suits different people.
Going all-electric in Ireland isn’t something that everyone can achieve. There simply aren’t enough charging points where they are needed. It also doesn’t help that the ESB has recently announced a stupid new pricing structure for public charge points. The idea that electric vehicle owners should fork out nearly €20 a month so they can charge a car at a public charge point is silly and short-sighted. So we are left with blending electricity and fossil fuel. Enter the hybrid.
The Grandad of hybrid technology is Toyota. They have been retailing hybrid-powered cars for decades now and most hybrid sales come from the Prius. The Prius has divided motor junkies because it’s strange-looking and it doesn’t act like other cars.
The technology behind hybrid power has gotten cheaper and lighter, and on account of this it has enabled the likes of Toyota to make it available within the rest of their range. For example, the Yaris and Auris are now available with petrol/hybrid set-ups, as is the RAV4.
I’ve been driving around in the Auris hybrid for the last couple of weeks and although the technology is brilliantly efficient, I can’t help feeling that the car needs something to make it more solid up front. The car’s steering doesn’t feel brilliantly weighted. However, the other versions of the Auris are much more driver orientated and don’t feel as light. That said, none of you will be buying the Auris hybrid because of the sportiness or speed; it’s all about the environment and the economy.
The Auris is available in standard petrol, diesel and hybrid. Which one should you choose? Well, let me break it down in a rather simplistic way that will save you pots of cash in the long run.
Why go for diesel?
You spend most of your time on the motorway and your mileage is 30,000 or over per year. This is where diesel makes a lot of sense. For motorway driving it is a case of “the bigger the engine the better”. But for high mileage then it’s any diesel. Don’t buy a diesel if all of your journeys are short hops – if the car doesn’t heat up all the way it’ll break down and cost a fortune.
Is petrol for you?
You drive the kids to school and spend most of your time driving to the shops. Your mileage is a lot less than 25,000km per year. This is where petrol lives. It doesn’t matter about heating up the engine – although you’ll get better fuel economy if you do heat it. It uses less fuel on sprinting around towns and it’s much cheaper to service.
Do you drive the city during the week and hit the road at weekends?
You live in a city or a near suburb and you know what gridlock is. Traffic lights seem to be popping red everywhere you go. This is hybrid country. In this situation you can trot along using mainly electric power and when you do get out of rush hour the petrol engine kicks in. If you live in a city the hybrid is ideal.
Only drive short trips?
Shorter journeys, or occasional driving, is where electric vehicles thrive. The biggest negative about this technology is range anxiety. Real-world distance return is not yet excellent and this mode of travelling is definitely not suited to everybody. However, if you only really do shorter journeys, then an EV is 100% perfect.
The Auris hybrid would probably suit my family down to the ground. We are just in that zone where our mileage is right and I reckon it would probably take a couple of weeks to get through a full tank of fuel.