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At the Johannesburg International Motor Show in South Africa, Toyota introduced their latest 5-door hatch in TRD supercharged form. The Auris TRD will feature a supercharged 1.6L with 178-hp and 149 lb-ft of torque, up 48-hp and 31 lb-ft from the standard model and looks to be launched sometime in November.
Even though the Auris is not sold in North America, the Auris has become fairly popular in other markets as the successor of the popular Corolla. The TRD variant is poised to replace the SportX in South Africa, with TRD also adding a sportier suspension and a body kit in addition to the supercharger.
No pricing was announced for the Auris TRD.
Toyota is planning to offer hybrid versions of all of its vehicles by 2020 and the next step in that process is a Hybrid Synergy Drive version of the Corolla-based Auris hatchback sold in the U.K. Toyota unveiled a prototype of that vehicle, the Auris HSD Concept at the Frankfurt Auto Show today.
The Auris HSD Concept uses the same Hybrid Synergy Drive powerplant as found in the current third-generation Prius. With a 1.8-liter gasoline engine and electric motor, power output should be about the same with 134 ponies under the hood. With a slightly heavier package acceleration should be close with a 10 second 0-60 mph time. Fuel-economy is expected to be similar as well, but not quite as high as the Prius, due in part to a drag coefficient that isn’t quite as good as 0.28 cd, as compared to the Prius’s 0.25 cd rating. The Prius gets a rating of 51/48 mpg, so even a close rating will still be impressive.
Aerodynamic enhancements have been made over the current Auris, however, with different front and rear bumpers, underbody panels, a larger rear spoiler, a ride height that has been lowered by 20mm, low rolling resistance tires and special 18-inch wheels that cut air turbulence in the wheel arches.
Like the Prius, the Auris HSD Concept will get four driving modes, including ECO, Power and EV mode. The EV mode will allow the car to travel 1.25 miles or 2 km on just electric power at speeds up to 31 mph.
Another similar feature between the two cars are solar panels on the roof which work to power the fans in order to keep the car cool when parked. Toyota says it continues to look into ways to expand the use of solar panels on its hybrids and shows an example on the Auris HSD with solar panels on the dash that can be used to power cellular phones.
Toyota plans to bring a production model of the Auris HSD Concept to market in the U.K. in the second half of 2010 and will build the hybrid at Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK (TMUK) in Burnaston, U.K.
As the Auris is based on the Corolla platform, can a hybrid Corolla (or possibly a Matrix HSD) be far behind?
GALLERY: Toyota Auris HSD Concept
In a strange turn of events, a source inside Toyota has told the U.K.’s AutoCar that the Japanese automaker isn’t looking to build a hybrid version of the Yaris. The source says the car won’t be built in France, Japan or anywhere; not yet anyway.
Toyota does plan to build hybrid versions of every car it sells by 2020, but in the mean time the Yaris’s already fuel-efficient engine (sold with a 1.33-liter four cylinder that gets over 50 mpg in Europe and Japan) is sufficient. While the added weight and cost of hybridizing a car makes good financial sense on larger vehicles, it just wouldn’t be worth it on sub-compacts like the Yaris, says the unnamed source. That is, until battery technology improves, making the electric components smaller, lighter and cheaper.
Toyota has, however, officially said it will build a hybrid version of the slightly larger Auris in the U.K. starting next year.
U.K model already confirmed
Just a few weeks after Toyota officially announced that it would build a hybrid version of the Corolla-based Auris in the U.K., new reports suggest a similar (but smaller) model is being prepared for Japan and Europe. The car would be built in Japan for the Japanese market and Toyota has plans to build a European version in France.
Priced at just 1.5 million yen ($15,760) the hybrid sub-compact would compete with the upcoming Honda Fit Hybrid in a growing segment. It is likely to debut in 2010 as a 2011 model.
The new model would not be badged as a Yaris, but rather as a stand-alone model (much like the Prius) and will be based on an all-new Yaris platform.
Demand for hybrid models has surged recently in Japan thanks to government incentives for green cars. In April the Honda Insight was the best selling vehicle in Japan, marking the first time a hybrid has ever topped the monthly sales charts there. It was bumped off the top spot in May by another hybrid, the new Toyota Prius.