Stepping on the gas takes on a different meaning in the latest hybrid model from Toyota.
In a bid to make it easier to save fuel, the accelerator in the petrol-electric version of the Auris hatchback operates in two distinctly different ways.
With the car in power mode, just half the pedal movement unleashes 80 per cent of the combined performance of the 1.8-litre engine and 60kW motor. But press the eco button and the reverse is the case, with 80 per cent of pedal travel governing 50 per cent of available output.
Given that the most effective fuel-saving device is the person behind the wheel, the novel electronic gadgetry that allows this choice can make a big difference at the fuel pumps.
So far in our long-term test, the HSD has been as parsimonious as a diesel when operating in eco mode with gentle progress resulting in average economy on the better side of 60mpg.
Driving with the green eco light glowing means acceleration is sedate, but the car is surprisingly nimble once under way and well able to keep pace with the traffic flow on major routes. But on inclines, a prod of the pedal is needed to maintain progress.
Accelerator response is noticeably sharper in power mode, but it takes a while to get used to the fact that the CVT gearbox has the engine spinning at relatively high revs while the road speed builds before settling down again to its almost inaudible behaviour during cruising.
For most of the time, progress in the HSD is sufficiently subdued and there’s no need for raised voices, irrespective of speed. It’s also remarkably relaxing as the car’s sophisticated control unit blends power from the engine, electric motor or both in a remarkably seamless fashion to make child’s play of driving.