Toyota Auris 1.6

14 Dec, 2012 10:00am Damion Smy

The all-new petrol-engined Toyota Auris is smooth and efficient, but where's the sparkle?


The 1.6-litre Auris is quieter, smoother and more efficient than before. It’s better to look at, too, easier to drive and with a more sophisticated interior. But it still trails rivals for economy and boot space, despite an increase in length. The main problem, though, is the lack of sparkle behind the wheel. The fuel-sipping hybrid makes more sense.

We drove the 87g/km Toyota Auris Hybrid a few weeks ago and were more impressed with its fuel efficiency than the way it drove. So can the 1.6-litre petrol model, expected to be the best-seller in the UK, do any better?

The four-cylinder engine produces 130bhp, with 160Nm of torque, and comes with a choice of six-speed manual or CVT gearboxes. We tested the manual in the hope it would add some excitement to the rather forgettable driving experience.

Although you’ll come across quite a few acronyms with this engine, the one that matters is VVT-i, which refers to the variable valve timing that’s designed to make it more efficient. Combined with a weight reduction of 45kg over the old 1.6 Auris, it works; this car achieves 47.9mpg and emits 138g/km of CO2.

But while it’s more efficient than the previous model, the Auris isn’t as efficient as the 138bhp VW Golf 1.4 TSI, which claims 54.3mpg and 123g/km with a manual transmission, or the 123bhp Ford Focus 1.6 Duratec, which manages 47.9mpg and 136g/km of CO2.

The petrol engine is smooth and unobtrusively quiet at any speed. This, plus the greatly improved driving position and quicker steering ratio, make the Auris marginally more enjoyable to drive than its predecessor.

The lightweight feel to the pedals and gearshift makes it easy to drive smoothly in town, but on the motorway you’ll have to change down a gear or two to tackle hills, where the relative lack of torque means it struggles.

Both the 1.6 and the Hybrid have a sophisticated multi-link rear suspension set-up (other models have a simpler, less comfortable torsion-beam rear axle). Despite this, the ride is still a bit jiggly on poor surfaces.

Toyota has clearly made an effort to raise interior quality, but some of the hard surfaces still aren’t up to scratch. The boot is 360 litres, 20 less than the Golf, and the rear seats feel slightly cramped compared to some rivals.

At £17,545, our well equipped mid-spec car is better value than the hybrid, but with just £570 more buying you a 1.4 TSI Golf, the Auris could have a tough time.

Disqus - noscript

Once again AE you are comparing this vehicle with VW and Ford to the exclusion of others. Yet I suppose Toyota are the Japano/Korean equivalent of VW.

I have seen the new Auris in Holland. A very well build car, in every aspect comparable with the new Golf. Only the Auris cost less (in the Netherlands) and will be more reliable (Toyota tops every international consumer report).
The Golf VII is on the market now for 6 weeks in the Netherlands and selling very, very badly. The dealers are very disappointed and worried.

Toyota have done a great job with the new Auris - It looks very sharp, and appears to be good value. I would rather have this than the Golf 1.4TSI and save myself £570 - it wouldn't be a tough decision for me A.E.!

Stiff competition
The new look seems quite busy. Toyota designers have done a lot of pinching and creasing to create this new look. To my eye looks better than the old car.
However this Auris has more than Golf and Focus to worry about. There is the new A3, Leon and Octavia.
Furthermore Civic gets an efficient 1.6 diesel. New Mazda 3 is on the way. And what about Ceed and i30.
Hybrid is the ace in Toyota's deck.

The front is so-so but the rear is b*tt ugly.. Reminds me of the Kia Venga.

I agree with you 100%. Kia and Hyundai are stiff competitors for Toyota as well as the new Mazda A3 (replacement in 2013). My point is that the motoring press is very hard in their judgement regarding the new Auris. I have seen the car at the dealer in Holland, and the quality of the car is outstanding (both interior and exterior) as well as the design (allthough very 'Japanese' Asian styling, that's not a problem it is a Japanese brand. You like it, or not).
The car looks so much better compared to the press photos.
AE, Autobild and Autoexpress are 'part' of the same publisher group, and very much in favour of all VAG products (not bad cars at all!), but to write bad reviews everytime when you test a Toyota/Lexus, that's a shame. The car is comparable to the Golf in every aspect and outshines the VW when it comes to durability and pricing.
I have selected an Auris hybrid (top spec version) in the Netherlands for Euro 33.400, the new Golf will cost me (with the same level of equippment) more than Euro 40.000......, and the tsi's are far less efficient.

There may be a tendency among the car magazines to show preference to German-sourced cars. However Auris 1.6L engine does not sound all that impressive in performance, emissions and efficiency. The 1.4L and the 1.4L diesel in the old car were not impressive either.
In my view hybrid is the cream of the Auris range and in my view hybrid technology (call it range-extender if you will) is the way forward for world's car makers to cut emissions and offer improve efficiency of their model range.

Why do Toyota design such ugly steering wheels? They place the centre boss of the wheel so low that it leaves a big space above it which looks ridiculous. Ford and VAG steering wheels look great.

I think that AE is being biased with this car. Australian motoring press have rated the Auris highly and yes I know the UK and Oz are 2 different environments but their reviews make much more sense... AE needs to rethink how it reviews butt ugly cars like some Skoda models and give Toyota and Lexus a better chance. Even if a car handles well, most of us wont charge up and down mountain passes given the cost of fuel these days!

Yes but the auris will still be running when the golf has been recycled. I know that in a world of driving a new car each day this does not count for much, but for the rest of us it is important.

On that note,I should point out that the most reliable car makers ie the japanese, have all mostly stayed away from turbos. Why?, well they'll break down a lot you see...the turbos that is, not the japanese cars.

This is going to struggle. Competent enough, no doubt, but outclassed by more talented competition. Toyota needs to raise its game.

All sounds great but we are not so convinced on Toyota Auris now!

We have one down here in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria and early this year with only 60,000km on the speedo, circa 24 months old and regularly dealer serviced the power steering locked up completely in a curve!

Luckily it was at relativly low speed and we avoided a serious accident but......................?

And Toyota ? No assistance whatsoever because the car is/was out of warranty! Dealer was most unhelpful also!

So we had to buy a very expensive Denso? control unit for the electric power steering!

Needless to say we are getting out of Toyota!

Our next one will be either a Nissan Qashgai or a KIA Sportage probably with 7 year warranty!!!

Key specs

  • Price: £17,545
  • Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder
  • Power: 130bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph/Top speed: 11.7 secs/112mph
  • Economy/CO2: 47.9mpg/138g/km
  • Equipment: Bluetooth, DAB radio, reversing camera, Hill Start Assist
  • On sale: Now