Toyota unveils a new hybrid for Europe

Toyota shows off a hybrid version of the Auris hatchback at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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Toyota Auris Hybrid
Toyota drops the hybrid power train from the Prius into the Auris. CNET

On seeing the new Toyota Auris Hybrid, we counted the doors and noted the hatchback, then thought, doesn't Toyota already sell a Prius? A glance at the specifications furthered our confusion, as the power trains between 2010 Prius and new Auris Hybrid are identical, a 1.8-liter engine coupled to Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive. In its press materials, Toyota takes the stance that the Auris Hybrid, or HSD as they call it, is the next logical step in the company's move to offer hybrid versions of all its models.

Toyota Auris cabin
This shifter in the hybrid Auris is similar to that in the Prius. CNET

If you're wondering what an Auris is, well, it's not sold in the U.S. Our nearest model is the Toyota Matrix. But Toyota sells the Auris just about everywhere else in the world, in both gasoline and diesel versions. It's a four-door hatchback based on the Corolla platform.

In hybrid form, the Auris gets the same power train settings as the 2010 Prius: Eco, Power, and EV. It reaches 60 mph in about 10 seconds, and it should get slightly less gas mileage than the Prius because of its inferior aerodynamic characteristics. Also similar to the Prius, it can be had with a solar roof that powers a cabin ventilation fan. Toyota also intends to make dashboard solar panels available that can be used to charge cell phones and other electronic devices. Now that's a step in the right direction.

For European environmental regulations, the most important thing about the hybrid Auris is that it emits less than 100 grams of CO2 per kilometer.