Clever invention, engineering ingenuity and smart technology all went into creating the Auris hybrid, and its award-winning Hybrid Synergy Drive system – combining petrol and electric power – which represents a new way of automotive thinking.
We took this unique small family car on a journey of discovery to seek out equally ingenious 21st-century innovations. Our first stop was Hull’s Scale Lane Bridge, a swing footbridge. This striking, finned black structure, provides a unique pedestrian option from the medieval Old Town and Museums Quarter to the state-of-the-art aquarium on the opposite bank. Opened in June 2013, this award-winning bridge, designed by architects Jonathan McDowell and Renato Benedetti, is the first of its kind in the UK. It represents a rethink of what a bridge should be.
It is designed not just as a crossing, but a place in itself: a destination. It’s also an event – when the bridge opens, crowds gather to watch.
From above, its shape resembles a giant apostrophe. Powered by electric motors, it rotates like an oversized pinball flipper around a 650-tonne concrete counterbalance, on the circular hub, which balances the cantilever span. It takes two minutes to swing gracefully into position. Uniquely, pedestrians can remain on the bridge – and even step on and off – while it’s moving. And, instead of flashing lights and klaxons, gently pulsing lights and a sound installation of bells and birdsong, announces the bridge opening, which it does several times a week for industrial barges to sail up and down the River Hull.
Hundreds ride the bridge
“But we open it on weekends too, just so the public can enjoy it,” says engineer Steve Hackett. During a summer weekend hundreds of people ‘ride’ the bridge. “Some of the legislation the bridge has to comply with is actually for fairground equipment because there’s nothing else like it,” says Steve. Like this playful piece of modern architecture, our Auris Hybrid is packed with innovation, yet drives just like a normal automatic car, albeit an unusually quiet, smooth one. Press the ‘start’ button and there’s no engine noise, just a polite beep and a light to tell you it’s ready to go. In town, where electric power is most efficient, fuel economy is outstanding, with almost 80mpg possible. And with ultra-low CO2 emissions of 84g/km or less, it’s one of the cleanest cars around.