Car group tests

Toyota Auris vs SEAT Leon

With a fresh look and a new engine, Toyota’s Auris aims to edge in front of class-leading SEAT Leon

With so many talented compact hatchbacks on the market, it’s been tough for Toyota’s Auris to make an impact. 

Best hatchbacks

The car has proven reliable and comfortable, with pricey yet attractive hybrid tech, but poor emissions of conventional petrol engines haven’t made it the first choice for low running costs.

Rivals have turned to turbocharging to go greener, and Toyota is doing the same – it’s replaced the Auris’ 1.6 VVT petrol engine with a new 1.2 turbo. 

Best family cars

The brand’s also taken the opportunity to revamp the car with a facelift inspired by the Yaris and Aygo, featuring a distinctive sharp nose. 

So, has the Auris been given the boost it needs to take on the class leaders? To find out, we’re testing it against our current compact hatch favourite – the SEAT Leon

It’s now a three-time winner of our Best Compact Hatch award and remains tough to beat with its combination of quality, grown-up road manners, involving handling and great value. 

Here, we test the 1.2 TSI SE against the Auris in 1.2 Design trim. The two are similar on price, spec and performance, so it will be a good contest.

Toyota Auris review

SEAT Leon review

Click the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to see which one comes out on top...

Head-to-head

Boot space

Toyota quotes a boot capacity of 435 litres, but this is to the roof. Our own measurements revealed that the Leon had a larger floor area and a greater volume under the load cover. Both cars have rear seats that fold flat, although the Toyota’s drop so that they are level with the boot floor – the SEAT’s leave an awkward step.

Options

You can add panoramic fixed glass to the Auris for £550. It makes the cabin feel spacious, but cuts rear headroom. SEAT offers a £775 electric sunroof. LED headlamps are a £795 option on the Auris and £1,010 on the Leon, yet they are part of the free Technology Pack upgrade.

Emissions

There’s only 11g/km between the Auris and Leon’s CO2 emissions, but the 125g/km Toyota costs £110 in road tax compared to £30 for the 114g/km SEAT. Company car taxpayers will face an annual bill of £1,274 for the Leon and £1,523 for the Auris.

Verdict

1st place: SEAT Leon

Once more, the SEAT Leon sees off a contender for the best compact hatchback crown. Its rivals are getting closer, but the Leon’s core strengths of great value – even before you add the free Technology Pack upgrade – and entertaining handling that doesn’t sacrifice comfort mean it’s still the class leader. The 1.2 TSI’s torquey power delivery negates any power deficit to the Toyota, too.

2nd place: Toyota Auris

The new 1.2 turbo Auris is a decent effort, but it doesn’t do enough to worry the SEAT Leon. Although the engine is good, it’s in a chassis that delivers neither a sporty or comfortable drive. Plus, its dirtier emissions counter the fuel efficiency on test, while material quality is disappointing, too. Add in a higher price and slightly less kit, and the Auris comes second here.

Other options in this category

Peugeot 308 1.2 eTHP (110) Allure

Price: £19,145 Engine: 1.2-litre 3cyl, 109bhp

Peugeot 308 hatchback 2013 front static

Allure-spec 308 isn’t left wanting for kit, with sat-nav and a reversing camera more than justifying its extra outlay. The three-cylinder turbo petrol is efficient, too, with CO2 emissions of 107g/km beating both rivals here.

Mazda 3 2.0 (120) SE-L Nav

Price: £19,395 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 118bhp

Mazda 3 - front static

If you’re not convinced a small-capacity turbo petrol is for you, then you could try the naturally aspirated Mazda 3. SE-L Nav trim gets decent kit, while Mazda’s weight-saving tech helps deliver CO2 emissions of 118g/km.

Key specs:

 SEAT Leon 1.2 TSI SE Technology PackToyota Auris 1.2T VVT-I Design
On the road price/total as tested£18,785/£19,470£19,095/£21,685
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£7,890/42.0%£7,065/37.0%
Depreciation£10,895£12,030
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£637/£1,274£762/£1,523
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,694/£2,824£1,507/£2,511
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost14/£347/C/£3014/£289/D/£110
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£480 (3yrs/30k)£145/£205/£145
   
Length/wheelbase4,263/2,636mm4,330/2,600mm
Height/width1,459/1,816mm1,475/1,760mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,197cc4cyl in-line/1,197cc
Peak power/revs108/4,600 bhp/rpm114/5,600 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs175/1,400 Nm/rpm185/1,500 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel50 litres/£10550 litres/space saver
Boot capacity (seats up/down)380/1,210 litres435/1,199 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,213/527/1,300kg1,350/470/1,300kg
Turning circle10.2 metres10.4 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/2yrs5yrs (100,000)/1yr
Service intervals/UK dealers10,000 miles (1yr)/12810,000 miles (1yr)/181
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.15th/27th8th/2nd
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars94/92/70/5 (2012)92/84/68/5 (2013)
   
0-60/30-70mph10.2/10.2 seconds10.2/10.0 seconds
30-50mph in 3rd/4th5.1/6.9 seconds5.3/7.5 seconds
50-70mph in 5th/6th10.8/14.8 seconds11.7/16.1 seconds
Top speed/rpm at 70mph121mph/2,400rpm124mph/2,200rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph47.7/33.5/8.8m45.9/31.5/9.8m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph64/41/60/67dB63/40/63/69dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range37.7/8.3/415 miles42.4/9.3/466 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined46.3/67.3/57.6mpg43.5/58.9/52.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined10.2/14.8/12.7mpl9.6/13.0/11.5mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket173/114g/km/17%154/125g/km/20%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/yes/£270/£500Seven/yes/£550/yes
Auto gearbox/stability/adaptive cruise£1,250/yes/£515£1,000/yes/no
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/no/£360Yes/£950/no
Met paint/LED lights/panoramic glass£575/yes/£775£495/£795/£550
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yes£750/yes/yes/yes

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