Time well spent: Toyota Auris Touring Sports 1.6i Icon

Mike Humble:

The Toyota Auris Touring Sports 1.6 Icon CVT
The Toyota Auris Touring Sports 1.6 Icon CVT

It often makes me chuckle when I hear of these new stylish fancy names for load lugging cars like touring or shooting break et al. What ever happened to the good old fashioned “estate” moniker, but whatever your take on the style name, a good solid practical estate car always ticks the boxes for drivers who require that bit of something for the weekend or business use.

Those decent folk at Toyota GB gave AUTOBRITANNIA.NET the loan of an Auris Sports Tourer and after experiencing some serious miles with an Avensis estate a few months back, I was keen to try its smaller family sibling. Auris is now a well established car in the Toyota range and it is of course produced at their UK production facility in Burnaston just outside Derby. My test car was the 1.6 petrol “Icon” model that’s sits just below mid range and fitted with their multidrive S C.V.T gearbox.

The vehicle looks a decent size in length (4.5m) though it shares the same wheelbase as the hatchback version, the obvious increase coming from the extended load area. First impressions are of a nicely proportioned car with inoffensive styling – it’s no where near as dynamic looking as the Civic Tourer or Astra but its certainly neat and tidy. As you would expect of a Toyota, its exterior fit and finish seem to be well within class expectations with very neat shut lines and a flawless paint finish. The Auris is a good looking motor all in all, well proportioned with clean lines and its certainly more style than Sanatogen!

The load bay is wide and accomodating. The seat backs drop down via a clever lever that requires a single and easy one fingered pull. The boot is flat, features a sliding cover, 12v power point and a nice low sill height.
The load bay is wide and accomodating. The seat backs drop down via a clever lever that requires a single and easy one fingered pull. The boot is flat, features a sliding cover, 12v power point and a nice low sill height.

There is a nice low sill height at the rear tailgate that pulls up to reveal a credibly large cargo area that’s completely flat. A really clever rear seat folding system drops the split rear backrest in a single action to extend that useful long and flat cargo deck. An easy to use sliding load cover protects your effects from public view and some limited storage space is also available underneath the floor. There is also some lashing points for awkward loads and an extra power socket for charging or cooler boxes – perfect for the hot recent weather we have been experiencing. As far as cargo carrying is concerned, the Toyota has been designed with practicality in mind.

On the inside, there is plenty of room up front with a near perfect driving position and an excellent clear view of the instruments. Headroom is plentiful too but rear seat passengers may find legroom a little tight if front occupants are longer in the leg. As seems to be the case with many rivals, the interior colour scheme is a little dark and sombre for some tastes, but its all very comfortable and there is little to complain about in terms of ergonomics. The Icon model comes with air conditioning as standard and its functions are easy to decipher. For the record, its one of the most effective systems I have come across in a family car and the face level vents emit plenty of volume.

Good space and comfort inside though taller rear passengers may find legroom a bit tight. Loads of oddment and nick nack space and its very practical in ergonomic terms. Colour scheme is bland though and the central part of the dash looks slab like out of place with the stylish exterior.
Good space and comfort inside though taller rear passengers may find legroom a bit tight. Colour scheme is bland though and the central part of the dash looks slab like out of place with the stylish exterior.

The optional “Touch & Go” sat-nav works fine with a clear voice, and a screen with decent graphics to view. Within the system is the audio unit that has a nice quality sound, six speakers, blue tooth connectivity and phone – again, it works well and is straightforward to operate. It’s a shame that a little more couldn’t have been done to give the facia a pleasing look. There’s not a great deal wrong with the function of it but the appearance of the dash looks very slab like and clumsy. Some of the plastics feel very hard and below class expectation and the digital clock looks like something you would find in an old taxi, but nothing creaks, nothing squeaks and most it feels very robust.

From a driver’s point of view, the Auris 1.6 Icon is a smooth performer most of the time and is joy to drive in normal situations. The driving position is spot on and the leather clad steering wheel feels just right as its slides through your fingers. Urban refinement is sublime and the car rides evenly over everything but the deepest ruts but spirited cornering can induce a little roll from the body and tyres, but press on harder and the traits of a CVT gearbox make themselves known. The car becomes very noisy and harsh if you bury your foot into the carpet and this is made even worse when selecting sport mode.

The 130bhp 1.6 is smooth and refined when cruising, but the CVT gearbox is very disappointing and makes the drivetrain harsh when rushed. With a manual gearbox this car would be a joy to drive.
The 130bhp 1.6 is smooth and refined when cruising, but the CVT gearbox is very disappointing and makes the drivetrain harsh when rushed. With a manual gearbox this car would be a joy to drive.

None of this would be an issue if it was a traditional automatic or manual, it’s just that the sprightly performance of the 130bhp engine would be appreciated more with a little less mechanical noise. Fast overtaking causes a surge in revs and a lowering in overall gearing that seems to take an age to calm down once the throttle pedal is backed off – its all very out of character and spoils the car somewhat. For all the remainder of times, the Auris Icon Touring Sports is a balanced and pleasant car to drive. Motorway cruising presents no chore and the driving seat gave no aches or pains during long journeys, other occupants seemed to agree.

As a longer term prospect, the Auris would be a safe bet. There’s a good warranty which covers the car right across Europe, the dealers are known for being honest square dealing types that look after customers and the car seems to be built to go the distance – everything that current and loyal brand owner have come to expect. Its far from being an exciting car, but its practical, well made and has a well thought out and commodious load bay. All in all, a very enjoyable car, but as for that CVT gearbox – no thanks, I`ll take the manual!

Not as dynamic as a Civic Tourer or as tactile as a Focus, but a safe bet that's bound to be utterly reliable. Stylish and well made with good dealers too... Just make sure you opt for a manual!
Not as dynamic as a Civic Tourer or as tactile as a Focus, but a safe bet that’s bound to be utterly reliable. Stylish and well made with good dealers too… Just make sure you opt for a manual!

Performance: 7/10
Build Quality: 8/10
Styling: 8/10
Handling & Ride: 7/10
Braking Performance: 8/10
Space & Comfort: 8/10
Interior Presentation: 6/10
Practicality: 9/10
Refinement: 6/10
Economy: 6/10
Kerbside Appeal: 7/10
Value: 7/10

Our Overall Rating: 7/10

Points of commendation: Comfortable – Practical – Well thought out load bay – Good equipment levels –Easy to use sat nav – Very good exterior fit & finish – stylish – Motorway refinement – Superb heating & ventilation – Reputable dealer network – Bound to be a stress free and reliable purchase.

Reservations: CVT gearbox does not suit the car – Worryingly harsh under fast acceleration – Some plastics feel hard and cheap – Rear seat legroom tight for some – Murray mint image

Equipment Highlights: All round power windows – Reverse camera – 6 speaker CD audio with DAB & media inputs / Air conditioning – Alloys – ABS / EBD & TCS – 7 airbags – Leather trimmed Multi-function steering wheel – Height adjustable driver’s seat – 5 year/100.000 mile warranty.

THE MAIN STATS:
Produced by: Toyota GB at Burnaston Derby UK
Engine / Gearbox: 1.6 16v VVT-i with Multidrive S CVT transmission
Power & Torque: 130bhp @ 6400rpm with 160Nm @ 4400rpm
Suspension / Steering: Struts front double wishbone rear / Electric rack & pinion
Brakes: All round discs with ABS & EBD – lever type parking brake
Fuel Economy / C02: 47.1 mpg combined (37mpg on test) / 139g/km
Benefit in Kind / VED Rating: 13% / Band E

Price: £19.055.00 (£20.220.00 as tested including options)

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