Toyota Auris 1.6

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

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Find your Toyota Auris
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Or are you looking to sell your car?
9/10 sellers got the price they expected

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.

Most Popular

Government in major U-turn on pick-up truck tax changes
Ford Ranger - side

Government in major U-turn on pick-up truck tax changes

HMRC scraps its plan to axe the benefit-in-kind ‘loophole’ for pick-ups, a week after announcing it
19 Feb 2024
“Some manufacturers are losing their appetite for electric cars”
Opinion - Ford Explorer

“Some manufacturers are losing their appetite for electric cars”

With EV market share shrinking, Mike Rutherford thinks there might be delays to the proposed 2035 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars
19 Feb 2024
Car Deal of the Day: Land Rover Defender looks the business at £324 per month
Defender Hard Top - downhill off road

Car Deal of the Day: Land Rover Defender looks the business at £324 per month

The current Defender is a fantastic SUV van for businesses and is our Car Deal of the Day for 20 February
20 Feb 2024