Toyota Auris hatchback
Price £14,945 - £22,890
- Top class reliability
- Decent practicality
- Cheap to run
- It’s a little dull
- Interior a bit dated
- Noisy automatic gearbox
At a glance
"The Toyota Auris is a well-made family hatchback that's reliable, practical and cheap to run."
The Toyota Auris is the Japanese company's rival for the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. In usual Toyota style, it may not be particularly exciting to look at but it should be well built and exceptionally reliable, despite Toyota's well publicised recalls.
Inside, the Toyota Auris has a solidly built interior but it's fairly drab to look at and the materials used feel a bit cheap. The car does at least come quite well equipped.
Toyota offers a good range of engines and none of them are expensive to run. Most people are likely to find that the diesel cars offer the best compromise between performance and economy but if you want to go all-out for economy, Toyota also offers hybrid models that pay no road tax and can return nearly 80mpg, although they’re expensive to buy compared to the diesels.
Trim levels run from base level Active and run through to Icon, Sport and top-of-the-range Excel models.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Auris is cheap to run thanks to excellent economy and efficiency
Whatever Auris you choose, it will be cheap to run. The range starts with the 1.33-litre petrol that can get 52.6mpg and emissions of 125g/km, so road tax will cost £100 each year. This model's cheap price means it might be the best one to go for but only if your annual mileage is fairly low.
The 1.4-litre diesel is also reasonably priced but is capable of more than 72mpg. If ultimate economy is your concern, the only model to choose is the 1.8-litre petrol hybrid. Toyota claims it can get nearly 80mpg, while CO2 emissions are so low the car easily qualifies for free road tax. Interestingly, the hybrid's regenerative braking system – which harvests kinetic energy – also reduces wear on the brakes, so should mean cheaper maintenance costs.
Toyota's standard warranty is also strong – it lasts for five years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first) – and means for half a decade you’ll be protected from any surprise bills.
Interior & comfort
Smooth, quiet and comfortable, but the interior is dated
Getting comfortable behind the wheel of the Toyota Auris should be easy because all models come with a good range of adjustment for both the steering wheel and driver's seat.
Counting against the Auris is its stiff suspension, which has come as a result of Toyota's attempts to make the car more fun to drive and means it never feels as comfortable as the Volkswagen Golf.
Interior noise is another problem, and the Toyota doesn’t feel as refined as some rivals. The hybrids counter this somewhat by offering a near-silent electric mode in town, but they also have a noisy CVT automatic gearbox.
Practicality & boot space
The Auris offers decent practicality although it’s far from class-leading
Practicality in the Auris is good, with plenty of space up front for passengers, and numerous cubbyholes. In fact, the Toyota scores particularly well for the latter, with a huge glovebox, similarly impressive door bins, large cup holders, and a decent storage area between the front seats.
Space in the back isn’t too bad, either. It's not class-leading, but the Toyota does offer a decent middle seat thanks to a floor that is almost completely flat, giving the middle passenger somewhere to put their feet.
Open the boot and you’re greeted by a useful wide opening and a small load lip that shouldn’t make it too hard to get large items safely in the back. Capacity is 360 litres (20 litres less than you get in a Golf), but the rear seats fold nearly completely flat, and split 60:40, to reveal 1,200 litres of space. The rear seatbelts are also kept out the way, so they don’t get caught up when you fold down the rear bench.
Reliability & safety
Superb levels of reliability and safety
The Toyota Auris came a respectable 45th place out of 150 cars in our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. In fact, it scored well in almost all areas, though it did very badly for performance – coming 141st. Our survey seems to indicate that recent recalls have not had an effect on the car's excellent reliability rating. It is also worth noting that hybrid models have batteries that are protected by an eight-year warranty.
Seven airbags and electronic stability control, meanwhile, see to it that the Auris gets five-stars from Euro NCAP for safety.
Engines, drive & performance
The Auris is capable but hardly exciting
Toyota has stiffened the Auris’ suspension in an effort to make the car more fun to drive and it does mean that there is limited body lean in the corners. Nonetheless, the car's light steering doesn’t match up to the more involving Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf when it comes to a rewarding driving experience. The light controls do suit town driving, though.
The 1.33-litre petrol is actually surprisingly nippy, despite being the cheapest model to buy, and we would choose it over the 1.4-litre diesel that feels slow. Best of the bunch, though, is the hybrid petrol, which gets strong performance despite its amazingly cheap running costs.
Price, value for money & options
Great value price tag given the equipment levels
Specifications across the Auris range are pretty good, with even the basic model getting air conditioning, bright LED daytime running lights, as well as USB and MP3 connectivity. The entry-level car's steel wheels do make the car look cheap but Icon models get alloy wheels, plus useful features such as a Bluetooth phone connection, plus keyless entry and go. Sport models get jazzier looks thanks to larger alloy wheels, while top-spec Excel models get heated front seats, climate control and park assist, which effectively parks the car for you. Toyota has also priced the model to undercut cars such as the Volkswagen Golf.
What the others say
"The Toyota Auris is a significant step-up in terms of style, practicality and efficiency over the car it replaces. It’s better to drive, too, but despite work on making it more enjoyable to drive, it still can’t hold a candle to the VW Golf or Ford Focus. They hybrid needs to rid itself of the CVT to be even considered a sporting drive, but Toyota should be applauded for making steps in the right direction. The Auris is a start, but it’s a long way off its rivals."