Toyota Auris review
The all-new Toyota Auris majors on reliability, but does little to worry the VW Golf or Ford Focus
The Toyota Auris is a well-made and easy-to-live-with family hatchback of a similar size to the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. It’s not the most glamorous of machines but it features clean, sharp lines that combine to create a smart if plain exterior. Toyota has one of the best records for reliability in the business, so, as you’d expect, the Auris is well put together and capable of weathering all that busy family life has to throw at it. There is a choice of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, plus a hybrid model that offers the best economy in the line-up and comes with a range of great extras such as park assist and lots of safety equipment. Toyota has worked hard to improve the hatch’s handling, but while it’s markedly better on the road compared to the previous generation Auris, it still trails class leaders by a wide margin. The interior is spacious but let down by some poor quality materials. And while all the engines in the line-up are efficient, the Auris isn’t a class-leader in this department, either. All-in-all, the Toyota is a capable, dependable and keenly-priced hatchback that won’t let you down. But it’s unlikely to put a smile on your face.
Our choice: Auris Hybrid
The Auris was the first model in the Toyota range to debut the Japanese firm’s new “Keen Look” design philosophy. It’s certainly a whole lot more sportier than the previous generation model, with a sharper nose, angular LED headlights, a low-mounted badge flanked by sloping grilles, and a sharply raked windscreen that gives the Toyota a sleek profile. There is also an integrated rooftop spoiler and chunky taillights. It’s smart looking, but it’s not as stylish as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, as classy as the Volkswagen Golf or as sporty as the SEAT Leon. On the inside, Toyota has made an effort to create a cabin that majors in elegance and simplicity – and has had some success. The bold lines and simple layout do look good, but while the quality of the materials is better than the previous generation Auris, a lot of the surfaces still feel a bit hard and cheap to the touch. Top spec models get classy silver details and blue and white instrument lights that give it a slightly more premium feel, but again, it’s a long way off the class leaders.
The Auris is a much better car to drive than before. It’s lighter with better weight distribution, and there’s also more adjustment in the steering column and driver’s seat, so a comfortable low-slung driving position is easy to achieve. There’s enough room for taller drivers, while the dash instruments are simple and easy to follow. The Auris is more refined than before, too, being quieter across the range. The Hybrid is smooth – and incredibly quiet at low speeds – but the CVT automatic stills makes a racket when you accelerate. The petrol and diesels are quiet on the motorway, though, only making themselves heard under acceleration. The ride is mediocre, though, as it shudders over rougher road surfaces, although the 1.6 petrol and hybrid models have a more sophisticated rear suspension, and offer the best ride and handling balance. The steering is sharper than the previous generation Auris, but still lifeless and numb by class standards, despite Toyota's increased emphasis on driver involvement.
Despite several high profile global recalls putting a dent in Toyota’s reputation in recent years, the Japanese brand makes some of the most reliable cars in the world – and its cars consistently do well in reliability rankings. The Auris uses proven engines, with the 1.33-litre and 1.6-litre petrol units and the 1.4-litre diesel all appearing in other models in the Toyotoa range. The Hybrid drivetrain is the same as that used in the Prius and Lexus CT200h and has few moving parts than conventional engines, so should prove to be even more reliable. The Auris was still too new for us to receive sufficient responses to our Driver Power satisfaction survey for it to be eligible to appear in the 2013 Top 100 cars ranking, but Toyota came ninth out of 32 in the manufacturers chart. And the Auris was awarded a five-star safety rating by crash-testers Euro NCAP when it was put through its paces in 2013, scoring 92 per cent for adult occupants’ safety, 84 per cent for child occupants’ safety, 68 per cent for pedestrian safety and 66 per cent in the safety assist category.
There’s more space in the Auris than before, with a 380-litre boot matching that of the VW Golf and exceeding the Ford Focus’s 316-litres. The rear seats split 60:40, while boot access is good thanks to a low, wide opening. There’s plenty of room to get in and out of the back and there’s more rear legroom than before, too. The Auris can carry four adults in comfort and five at a squeeze. This version of the Auris has been developed as a hybrid from the start, so the batteries no longer take up any boot space. This makes the hybrid version just as practical as any other Auris.
The Auris is one of the most economical cars in its class, thanks to both fuel saving technology, an aerodynamic design and a weight reduction over the previous model. The best mpg comes from the hybrid, with claimed figures of 72.4mpg and 91g/km of CO2 emissions (pipped by the VW Golf 1.6 TDI with 74.3mpg, but 99g/km emissions). The Auris 1.4-diesel matches the Hybrid’s 72.4mpg, but with 103g/km emissions, while the petrol engines see a best of 52.3mpg and 125g/km emissions for the 1.33-litre. Again, the Golf is better, with 57.6mpg from its 1.2-litre, however the Auris is still cheaper to run than many small hatchback rivals.