The time is right and the time is now for Toyota Ireland as the stars have aligned for hybrid technology. The Japanese brand has engineered and promoted petrol-electric engines for over twenty years, and now finds itself in a strong position to gain from the dramatic move from diesel.
On the back of the ‘dieselgate’ scandal from 2016, together with an increasing number of cities across Europe restricting diesel traffic movements, 2019 is set to be a very busy year for Toyota Ireland. No less than five new hybrid offerings are due for launch from January onwards. The marque’s loyal following will find favour with the newly developed cars and the newly created design style will appeal to a new audience and forever shake-off the brands ‘conservative’ look and feel. Toyota Motor Europe’s design team at ED2 in France have done amazing work, carving the path into the future for the company.
At the five-pronged product launch event in Dublin, Michael Gaynor, Marketing Director pointed to the ongoing success of hybrid sales across the country, dismissing the notion that petrol-electric only suits the urban driver. “In Offaly, we have experienced a 142% increase in sales this year with Longford recording 131% and from a recent in-house survey, we found that hybrids are the second most popular choice among new or used car buyers.” Residual values on hybrids remain higher than on its standard internal combustion counterparts.
Early January will see the launch of the new RAV4 and Corolla hatch (formerly known as the Auris), with the 4-door saloon and Touring Sport versions on sale in February. By Easter, the Camry nameplate returns after a fourteen year gap, with the all-new model sold this time around as a hybrid. To date, interest from dealer feedback has been phenomenal, with 800 deposits paid by enthusiastic customers and over 6,000 bookings for test drives in advance.
New petrol-electric drivetrains will power the main Corolla models ranging from the 122 bhp 1.8 litre to a 180 bhp 2.0 litre unit. Meanwhile the RAV4 and Camry benefit from a newly developed 2.5 litre 218bhp unit. Thanks to the use of some weight saving materials and a new suspension system, together with a more rigid platform, driving dynamics have been vastly improved. Upgraded safety features include second level Toyota Safety Sense enabling daytime cyclist and night-time recognition and lane trace assist, while road sign assist provides higher accuracy with more road sign recognition. Noise, vibration and harshness have been significantly reduced.
The Corolla hatchback model has a starting price of €26,995 with the ranging topping Sol priced at €30,115. These two core grades have identical pricing on the Corolla Touring Sports. Saloon versions retails from €27,700 for the Luna grade with Sol being the flagship at €31,705.
“No more boring cars,” quipped Michael, adding that these new Toyota cars are more exciting to drive. Internally, drivers and front seat passengers will become more engaged with the large touch screen and infotainment systems.
Featuring a longer wheelbase and lower centre of gravity, yet taller than the outgoing model, new RAV4’s design elements are pleasing to the eye. Two-tone colouring adds to its overall attractiveness. Entry level RAV4 Luna pricing starts at €37,590 and progresses to Sport at €40,990.
With 45 million unit sales, the Corolla is the world’s best-selling car. When broken down that equates to about 100 cars sold every day. With combined sales of the saloon, hatch and estate, new Corolla will fast become Ireland’s best seller. Always generous with roomy dimensions, this latest version will not disappoint and although in hybrid form, boot space is not sacrificed.
Those still lamenting the Avensis can look at this or even the new Camry. Toyota Ireland see great potential for this high specification large saloon in the executive fleet sector as a new alternative in the segment. Boot space is on par with premium saloons in its class, while its tested fuel consumption is measured at 4.2 L/100km. New Camry has two core grades – Sol at €40,750 and Platinum at €42,950. Jarlath Sweeney