Toyota Auris Hatchback (2015 - ) MK 2 Facelift review
The Toyota Auris (2015 - ) is a good car in a class brimming with world beaters. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, it just doesn’t quite match its rivals in some key areas
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This is one of the Auris’s strong suits. There’s no doubting it’s a smart-looking car. The slender headlights blend seamlessly into the grille, while a chrome strip extends out from each side of the ovoid badge and a sharp shoulder line extends all the way from the headlights to the rear clusters. All models except entry-level Active versions get alloys, while LED daytime running lights are standard on all cars, as are LED rear lights. Upgrading to Icon trim adds front foglights, some more chrome trim in the lower grille and 16-inch alloy rims, while Design models get 17-inchers. Top-of the range Excel versions add a different design of 17-inch wheel, as well as even more chrome around the lower grille.
Inside, the Auris is very much about function over form. It’s not unattractive, by any stretch of the imagination, but it does lack the visual flair of others in its class. Most of the touch points such as the switchgear and steering wheel feel nice and substantial, but in places the material are still a little rough and ready, and not as classy as a Seat Leon or Skoda Octavia. It’s down to the details in this car; things like the USB and Aux socket cover, as well as the 12V power point cover just feel flimsy. That said, the 7-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system – standard on all except entry-level Active models – looks fairly upmarket. It doesn’t, however, quite possess the same level of sophistication that some of its rivals can boast. It’s easy to use, however, as are most of the rest of the controls in the cabin; with everything laid out logically. Both the driver’s seat and the steering wheel have plenty of adjustment, so finding the correct driving position is a simple task. Visibility is pretty good, but the wide C-pillars make seeing out of the back a bit tricky and makes the reversing camera – standard on all but the most basic models – an important ally.
While the Auris doesn’t really lag behind any of the major rivals in terms of practicality, neither does it excel. Its 360 litres of bootspace puts it about on par with many of its rivals like the Vauxhall Astra, Kia Cee’d and the Seat Leon, and a long way ahead of the Ford Focus. Like every other car in the class, however, it lags a long way behind the Skoda Octavia in terms of outright space. The floor is flat, but while there is a slight lip, it’s not enormous, and the boot’s wide, square shape makes it a very usable space. The rear seats split and fold – increasing available space to 1,176 litres – but they don’t fold completely flat. The back seat is wide enough to sit three adults happily side-by-side though, with no raised transmission tunnel to worry about.
Ride and handling
One of the Auris’s main strengths is the fact that it rides really well. There is a firm edge to the suspension when you pass over speed humps or potholes, but on faster roads it smooths out the worst of the lumps impressively, keeping the occupants well isolated. In terms of handling and steering, however, the Auris is a fair way behind its rivals. It grips well enough, but the steering is so light that while it’s decently accurate, you rarely, if ever feel involved in the process of driving, like you would in the far sharper Ford Focus. Most won’t find this an issue and the Auris is quiet, comfortable and smooth, making it relaxing to drive, but for those who enjoy driving, there are better alternatives.
There are two diesels, two petrols and a petrol-electric hybrid in the Auris range, so you have plenty to choose from. So far, we’ve only driven the petrol-electric hybrid and the 1.2-litre petrol turbo. The hybrid uses the familiar 1.8-litre petrol engine/electric motor combo used in other Toyota hybrids such as the Prius. It makes a combined 134bhp, which allows it to complete the 0-62mph sprint in 10.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 112mph. For the most part, it’s quiet and refined, wafting you around nearly silently at city speeds. Try to accelerate hard, though, and things start to unravel a little bit. Thanks to the CVT transmission fitted to hybrid models, hard acceleration leads to the engine making an awful lot of noise, which continues even at cruising speeds. It doesn’t feel particularly strong on the motorway, either, running out of puff quite quickly. The 1.2 petrol is a much quieter companion, with a nice flexible dose of power, it revs smoothly and pulls the Auris along in a brisk, pleasant fashion. It's slightly hampered by the notchy six-speed manual gearbox, but definitely preferable to the hybrid.
This is another area where the Auris should excel. None of the models returns less than 51mpg on the combined cycle, with the efficiency stars being with 1.4 diesel and the petrol-electric hybrid, both of which can manage 80.7mpg on 15-inch wheels. Likewise, the most polluting Auris – the 1.33-litre petrol – emits just 128g/km of CO2 and the cleanest – the hybrid again – will emit between 79- and 91g/km depending on wheel size. This, therefore, will mean low tax bills, both in terms of company car tax and vehicle excise duty, as well as reasonably low fuel costs. Residual values are not quite as strong for the Auris as on it's competitors, but low insurance groups and low cost servicing and parts should help keep the overall cost of ownership manageable.
Toyota has an enviable reputation for reliability and there’s no reason to suggest that this generation of Auris should be any different. The current car is far too new to have any concrete reliability data, but Warranty Direct’s Reliability index shows Toyota to be one of the best performing brands in the business. Not only does this mean that a Toyota is unlikely to break down very often, but if it does, it won’t cost all that much to fix. The Auris is based on some well-proven technology, too, so you’ll have to be really unlucky to have many issues with one of these. All new Toyota's also come with a five-year warranty, two more than you get from the majority of mainstream manufacturers.
Safety experts Euro NCAP haven’t tested this model, but they have tested the previous model, and it managed the full five stars. There’s no reason this model won’t behave just as well. Every Auris comes with anti-lock brakes, stability control and a tyre pressure monitoring system, as well as brake assist; a system where the car works out if you’re attempting an emergency stop and increases the force applied to the brakes. There’s also a multitude of airbags which come as standard. You can also specify the safety sense pack as an option all but entry-level Active models. This adds the pre-collision system, lane departure alert, automatic high-beam lights and road sign assist. It's an excellent package, and priced low enough that if you want the added safety net, there's no reason not to tick that box in the dealership.
The Auris comes decently-equipped as standard. Entry-level Active models get features such as Bluetooth, USB and Aux connectivity, air-conditioning, electric door mirrors and electric front windows and, if you go for a Hybrid in entry-level trim, you get 15-inch alloy wheels, too. Icon adds 16-inch alloys wheels (for non-hybrid cars as well) DAB radio, Toyota Touch 2 infotainment system, rear-view camera, a 7-inch touchscreen, and leather interior highlights. Upgrade to a Business Edition model (which is our pick of the range) and you get cruise control, an upgraded sat-nav system and heated seats with lumbar support. Next up, Design versions add 17-inch alloy wheels, while top-of the range Excel models have velour and leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, park assist with front and rear parking sensors, upgraded sat-nav, powered front seats, auto headlights and wipers and heated front seats. Broadly speaking, the Auris is on a par with its rivals for kit, but some brands do offer things like seat heaters a fair bit lower down their ranges.
The Auris is a car which does the job of transporting people from one place to another with ease and in comfort very well. It may not be a particularly inspiring car to drive, but low running costs – especially on the hybrid – will make it a popular car with those seeking hassle free motoring. It’s also pretty well equipped and smartly designed; with little differentiation between trim levels. However, lots of other cars offer a nicer driving experience, plusher interiors, and in some cases, more space, for the same money.