Remember how heads used to turn when the first petrol-electric cars appeared on our roads?
Well, there’s no chance of winning curious second glances when you’re at the wheel of the latest thing in green mobility – apart from having discreet badges on its sides and at the rear, the Auris hybrid I’m driving looks the same as any other version of the UK-built hatchback range.
That’s the whole point of the HSD (it stands for hybrid synergy drive), of course. Despite its success with the Prius, which was built specifically for a petrol-electric powertrain, Toyota has adapted its regular C-segment model to accept hybrid power in order to broaden the base of appeal of super-eco motoring.
Early experiences with the car suggest the move will be a success. With a clever combined unit providing either petrol or electric drive - or a combination of both - without any driver input, this is a package that should appeal to the growing number of motorists who want ultra-low emissions travel as they make the most of every gallon.
But after only a few hundred miles, our long term test has highlighted an important safety issue.
Hybrid cars provide remarkably quiet travel for most of the time and are eerily silent when operating in EV (electric vehicle) mode, which means cyclists and pedestrians are not aware of the vehicle until they see it.
This is a potentially dangerous situation that has yet to be addressed by the lawmakers, so it’s good that Toyota has revealed it is ready to make suitable ‘noise’ gadgetry available to supplement the horn, the traditional warning instrument, on hybrid models.
Elsewhere, the Auris is as well mannered as it is quiet and I’m getting used to the variable auto transmission seeking the most efficient progress via the lowest engine revs for any given road speed.
I’m also noting the fact that the arrangement seems beneficial at the filling stations – my average of more than 58mpg so far in the test is a good economy return from mixed usage.