Toyota Auris review
The Toyota Auris is a dependable and spacious yet undesirable hatch, but does a 2015 facelift improve things?
Toyota's Auris was originally a rebranding of the hugely popular Corolla back in 2007 but it's now in its second generation. It remained faithful to the Corolla's mantra of providing reliable and well-engineered transport, but aimed to add a more upmarket feel.
In 2015 the Auris received a mid-life facelift in order to keep it competitive, with fresher looks, improved cabin tech and new materials. There were also new petrol and diesel engines added, with a BMW-sourced 1.6 D-4D oil-burner and a new 1.2-litre four cylinder petrol turbo. The entry-level 1.33-litre petrol remains unchanged, as does the 1.8-litre VVTI Hybrid with a CVT automatic gearbox and 1.4 diesel.
In addition to the hatchback body style, it's also available as what Toyota calls the Auris Touring Sports (an estate).The 2015 Toyota Auris is available in five trim-levels: the entry level Active model, the mid-range Icon, Design and Business editions as well as the range topping Excel. The Auris has a tough job on its hands competing with the likes of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf in the family hatchback class.
In-keeping with the Auris' dependable reputation it's available with Toyota's five year warranty, and as of 2015 it can be had with the firm's Safety Sense active safety technology package, although it's a £450 option unlike on the bigger Avensis.
The Toyota Auris is aware of its limitations in the family hatchback sector. Toyota's given up pretending that the Auris could wow you with its handling, or cosset you in a luxurious interior. Instead, it's concentrating where it knows it can compete - with a spacious, solid cabin, and a good reputation for reliability.
A 2015 facelift improved matters slightly, adding an excellent new 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine, but it didn't make the Auris any more stylish, so it's got no chance of competing for younger buyers against the likes of the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf or SEAT Leon.
Engines, performance and drive
The Toyota Auris has always erred on the safe and competent side, rather than offering any sort of driver appeal. That's no bad thing as it's reasonably comfortable and easy to drive, but so is a Leon or a Focus, and they both offer more in terms of steering feel and composure on the road.
The 2015 facelift saw tweaks to the steering rack to improve directness and feel, which were largely successful. New dampers also improve the low-speed ride, but body roll is still noticeable and it never feels like a car you would enjoy hustling along a country lane. Many Auris owners won't mind this, however.
The new 1.2-litre turbo petrol is the highlight of the engine range: It improves efficiency significantly over the naturally aspirated 1.33 unit, and its 114bhp and 185Nm of torque mean it's flexible and strong. It's also smooth and refined at low revs, but a Leon 1.2 TSI has a broader power band, matches it for economy and sounds sportier.
The new BMW-sourced 1.6-litre diesel is better than the 1.4-litre unit and is punchy enough, but it's not especially refined.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
There's no denying that the Toyota Auris is one of the more economical family hatches on-sale, but despite fuel saving technology, an aerodynamically efficient design and weight reduction, it's not quite
Unsurprisingly, the most economical engine (in official figures) in the Toyota Auris range is the 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid, and with its CVT automatic gearbox, it returns 81mpg and emits 79g/km. Unfortunately for Toyota who really pioneered hybrid tech, these numbers have been bettered by the Germans - the Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion manages 88mpg, although it emits 6g/km of CO2.
The 1.3-litre petrol engine manages 52.3mpg with 125g/km of CO2, which is reasonable, but the new 1.2-litre turbo is better in this regard. In Icon spec it manages 58.9mpg and emits 112g/km, slightly better than the SEAT Leon 1.2 TSI.
The lethargic 1.4-litre diesel engine improves for 2015, managing 80.7mpg and emitting just 92g/km. The 1.6 unit only manages 67mpg and 108g/km by comparison, but it is the better choice in terms of performance.
Interior, design and technology
The design of the Toyota Auris is pretty angular and the nose features some sharp looking headlights as well as a small grille, which is dominated by a centrally mounted Toyota badge. It's functional and unfussy, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the styling of the latest Golf could also be described as understated.
The 2015 facelift adds extra chrome strips and new LED headlamps, which modernise thigns a little bit, but several key rivals are more dynamic-looking.
Toyota has carried over the straight-line theme to interior of the Auris, so while it feels pretty durable the hard, sometimes flimsy plastics disappoint and the dashboard could learn a thing or two from the ergonomically sound Volkswagen Golf - the switches are scattered across the dash and steering wheel, but one good thing is that the central touchscreen is easy to use.
The 2015 facelift adds new gloss black trim on the dash and some new upholstery, but not much else is improved and it still lags behind the solidity, layout and classy feel of the best in the business.
Other minor niggles on the interior of the Toyota Auris include a clock that’s too far away from the driver and looks like it's from a 1980s digital watch. Meanwhile, the tray ahead of the gearlever, despite featuring 12V and USB sockets, is bit small.
The air-vent design looks a bit half-baked too, as there are two different versions - they’re rectangular in the middle of the dash, and the individual vents at either end are round.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
In hatchback form, the Toyota Auris features a decent 350 litre boot. It's smaller than the Leon and Golf, but 34 litres bigger than the Focus.
The rear seats split 60:40, and when folded, the boot space expands to 1200 litres. What's more, boot access is good thanks to a low, wide opening and the Toyota Auris has a shallow boot floor which makes unloading easier. A flat-floor can also be slotted into grooves behind the folded back seats to create a completely level loadspace.
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. It's not remarkable in either regard, however.
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.
Reliability and Safety
Toyota's reputation for building tough, reliable, long-lasting cars is almost legendary, so if a no-nonsense family hatch that won't let you down is your thing, then the Auris is well worth a look.
Toyota fits the Auris with seven airbags as standard, which includes a driver's knee bag. Other safety kit includes stability and traction control, Isofix child seat anchors, brake force distribution and brake assistance - no surprise then, that the Auris claimed five-stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests.
The Toyota Auris also ranked 45th out of 150 cars in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, with owners praising it for its comfort and affordable running costs. In terms of manufacturers, Toyota ranked 17th out of 33 manufacturers.
The Auris also comes with a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty, which shows just how much confidence Toyota has in its car.