Toyota have revised and improved the whole Auris range. Some limitations still remain in terms of available passenger space and interior presentation, but what has been improved is immediately noticeable turning what was a quite unremarkable hybrid estate car into a more refined and high quality product that habitual Toyota customers will appreciate…
The last Auris Touring Sports sampled featured their all new 1.2 turbo engine. For the main it put up a good account for itself and gave me a reminder how effective Anglo/Japanese engineering can really be. The Hybrid version we have for your delectation here is just one of a range of hybrid models Toyota have to offer from their portfolio of green engineered cars in the UK. Its British build content extends from assembly in Derbyshire to its driveline coming from North Wales, unlike its bigger brother Avensis, the Auris Tourer looks every inch a Japanese car both inside and out despite going through a raft of tweaks and tinkers over the past year or so.
Despite resembling nothing else in its class, the overall styling is pretty restrained though it does look quite smart and business-like if you study the overall proportions. Build quality appears to be right up there with the best thanks to very close shut lines and a great shine and depth to the Orion Blue paintwork. Hop inside and once again you wont be disappointed at the quality of build. Its quite possibly one of the best interiors in terms of overall robustness and quality. But sadly its let down in presentation with a slab like central facia with a huge display screen that glares sunshine into your eyes on bright sunny days.
Interior appearance may be bland and dour but just like the overall quality, the driving comfort is worthy of note. The seat is supportive, the driving position is just right and there’s plenty of adjustment to fine tune the seating for optimum comfort. I couldn’t find any fault with the driving position or the marvellous way it silently devours the miles when cruising down the motorway. But cruising is what the hybrid does best, you’ll notice this when you venture away from the fast roads and onto the back lanes. There’s a bit too much engine noise as the CVT searches endlessly for optimum torque and power. It can get just a bit rowdy for some tastes, but if you are content to just waft along in no hurry the Auris Touring Sports Hybrid can be very refined indeed… and economical too.
Rear passengers don’t fare so well as the driver sadly. The test car came with the optional sky-view panoramic roof which robs the rear headroom because of the motorised blind not to mention its restrictive rear legroom. Back seat passengers were wittering in my ear barely a few hundred yards from the house about how cramped they felt – not ideal with an estate car really. But moving further rearward you will find a useful amount of total space (almost 1700 litres) even if the load bay is an odd shape and the seats don’t fold down fully flat to the floor.
With a 1.8 petrol engine allied to hybrid electric CVT transmission, the Auris promises up to 72mpg though I couldn’t get anywhere near that figure – expect very high 50’s in real world conditions. In fact in one or two conditions the figure pipped 60mpg overall and as mentioned before, if you are happy to roll along with the herd the Auris remains sweet and refined but don’t expect a pulse racing chassis as its moniker may suggest.
There’s a bit of pronounced body roll and rather lifeless steering but nothing to link its character to the “Touring Sports” title, in other words as a tourer its great but sporting? it `aint. That said, the handling is best described as safe and predictable and the steering does weight up nicely when cornering with some verve. There’s a pleasing amount of grip and the ride is very smooth and pliant overall. The snatchy feeling the regenerative brakes used to be known for is still a touch noticeable around town but much more improved with this latest model and unnoticeable at speed.
As an estate vehicle for families you might find the cramped rear a bit too restrictive, but for those habitual Toyota customers – of which there are thousands… you’ll love it. The quality and technology are two major factors that make it stand out from the crowd. In top flight Excel trim the Auris does come very well equipped but lacks the chassis of a Focus and the overall abundant talent of the new Astra Sports Tourer… but like I have already mentioned, if you are a traditional Toyota customer… you’re gonna like this one quite a lot!
AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING – 7/10
Model Tested: Toyota Auris 1.8 Touring Sports Hybrid Excel
Produced By: Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK Ltd Burnaston Derbyshire
Price: £25,945 (excluding options)
Driveline: 1.8 petrol (98bhp) + 60Kw electric motor hybrid system with CVT transmission
Power: 188bhp & 349Nm of torque (combined maximum output)
*Performance: 0 – 62 in 11.2 seconds (112mph max)
*Economy: 72.4mpg combined average (62.3 on test)
Co2 / VED: 92g/Km – band A
*Govt or manufacturers claimed data
WHATS HOT: Utterly superb build quality – Incredibly comfortable front seats – Well Equipped – Cargo space – Smart body styling – Motorway cruising – Feels safe, solid and secure all round – Respectable residuals and reputable dealerships – A Toyota for loyal brand fans – Smart body shape – High level of UK build componentry.
WHATS NOT: Far from sporting – Dull and sober facia – Cramped rear legroom – Headroom compromised with glass roof – Expensive in top flight trim – Lifeless steering – Lacks dynamics and kudos of other mainstream rival offerings – Still a bit gruff and noisy when driven hard.
For more information on the Auris range CLICK HERE