Toyota Auris 1.4 D-4D T3

Can Japanese hatch see off challenge from Korea?

  • Comfortable, good storage, Toyota customer service and reliability
  • Bland, uninspiring, comparatively expensive

Creating a new name was a major part of Toyota’s attempts to give its family hatchback a fresh image. The Corolla badge made way for Auris – the Latin word for gold. But in the flesh, the new car doesn’t exactly glitter.

Designed from the inside out, it has a bloated and rather boxy appearance. However, a much braver approach has been taken in the cabin. A large centre console dominates, and its arched shape is echoed in the door handles.

Unfortunately, the plastics used are shiny and the rest of the layout is quite bland. The stereo has cheap-feeling controls, too. But storage is good, with decent door pockets and a twin glovebox.

There are other positives. The seats are comfortable – both in the front and rear – and while the Toyota has a shorter wheelbase and isn’t as long overall as its rivals, it’s relatively well packaged. The boot capacity is the largest on test, and it matches the Hyundai for legroom.

While the Auris’s smaller 1.4-litre turbodiesel gives away a substantial 24bhp and 65Nm of torque to its rivals, it didn’t fare too badly at the test track – covering 0-60mph in 12.1 seconds, which is only one second slower than the i30. Its in-gear figures were also competitive. It rarely feels underpowered, lapping up motorway miles with ease, but proved inflexible at low revs. The brakes are unpleasantly grabby, too.

As with the rest of the hatch, the handling is competent, if uninspiring. The Toyota corners confidently thanks to a new stiffer bodyshell, but over-assisted steering gives a detached driving experience. And the Auris is the priciest car, yet no better equipped than either opponent.

Details

Price: £15,045Model tested: Toyota Auris 1.4 D-4D T3Chart position: 3WHY: The Auris is tuned for European driving tastes, and offers excellent refinement

Economy

While it’s a smaller-capacity engine, Toyota’s 1.4-litre unit simply can’t match the two Korean cars when it comes to economy. Its 41.2mpg figure isn’t particularly impressive, either – although on motorways, this did rise to 48.0mpg

Residuals

Given the Japanese firm’s reputation for build quality and reliability, we weren’t surprised that the Auris retains more of its value than either rival. Yet while 43.8 per cent is respectable, it’s not on a par with the family hatch class leaders

Servicing

Toyota has a strong reputation for good customer service. A fourth-place finish in Driver Power 2007 backs this up, with nearly one-quarter of customers happy with their local dealer’s friendly and helpful service

Tax

While it emits 7g/km more CO2 than its Korean rivals, the Toyota still sits in the same 18 per cent tax bracket – the lowest available for diesel cars. However, its relatively high price tag means lower-band owners face a bill of £582

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