Significant reductions in benefit-in-kind tax liability promise to boost interest in the first compact estate model to feature a petrol-electric powertrain, predicts Toyota.
And hybrid versions should soon be accounting for the lion’s share of fleet take-up for the new Auris Touring Sports model, believes Toyota GB president Jon Williams.
“This is the right car for the times,” he said. “As the squeeze continues on business overheads, many drivers are putting their transport costs under the microscope and we have the ideal product for anyone looking to achieve higher efficiency.
“The latest Auris package offers the perfect balance between making a reduction in overheads while still retaining all the comfort and convenience features of cars from the class above.
"I see our latest hybrids as presenting a great opportunity to win fresh business.”
Speaking as the British-built car was launched to international media in Spain, Williams claimed “a large number” of customers had already shown a high level of interest in the new workhorse model.
He added: “I think we have the chance of exceeding our volume predictions.”
Now on sale, the model is expected to achieve 1,700 registrations this year and more than 4,000 in 2014, with a fleet share of more than 60%.
“Demonstrators are already on their way to key customers because we’re keen for people to experience the refinement, ease of driving and practicality of a car that takes hybrid transport into a fresh area,” Williams said.
“It’s an ideal proposition for business users looking to downsize.”
Available in four trim levels, the mid-range Icon is expected to be the fleet best-seller, matching the Ford Focus Zetec 1.6 TDCi on price but featuring more equipment and lower benefit-in-kind costs claimed to be worth up to £1,400 over three years.
Despite sharing its wheelbase with the Auris hatchback, the TS’s bodywork is 285mm longer, making room for 530 litres of luggage with the rear seats in position and 1,658 litres loadspace – the biggest in the sector – with the seats folded thanks to the underfloor location of the hybrid battery.
But Toyota claims that features like a one-touch folding rear seat system, twin-level floor, two-way tonneau cover and roller-type luggage net also contribute to making the car more functional than rivals.
Sharing interior and trim upgrades with the hatchback, the TS has a quiet and unruffled gait for relaxed progress, although noise levels rise when the transmission sends the motor spinning at high revs when power is needed to cope with overtaking or maintaining speed on inclines.