"The Toyota Auris is a well-made hatchback with an unrivalled range of engines, plus low running costs."
The Auris is a Volkswagen Golf-sized family hatchback that boasts strong reliability, practicality and a good choice of engines. It was the first Toyota to use the brand's current design language, which is intended to boost the car's appeal in terms of styling, driving and desirability. It's also more practical than the previous model, with wider door openings, more interior space and a larger boot. This is also the first Auris to be developed as a hybrid during its design and engineering phase, the main benefit being that the hybrid model loses no boot space compared to the petrol or diesel versions.
The Auris is available with three engine choices. The smallest, the 98bhp 1.33-litre four-cylinder, is also used in the Toyota Yaris. It's responsive around town when you need to accelerate through small gaps, and it's efficient, but the 1.4-litre diesel engine uses less fuel, even if it doesn’t accelerate quite as quickly. However, it's the hybrid version that offers the best overall drive, with punchy acceleration and near-silent low-speed driving. Even on larger wheels, the Auris has a comfortable ride, which is good for rough city roads. The steering is light and easy, while it handles well around corners. However, it's simply not as exciting to drive as a Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf.
The Auris is much quieter than before, and is better quality on the inside. The seats are comfortable, whether you’re in the front or the back. The rear can accommodate taller adults, despite the sloping roofline, but knee room is a bit tight. Lumbar support is available on the highest-spec models, and engine choice dictates the ride quality. If you pick the 1.33-litre petrol or the diesel, there's a less sophisticated rear suspension set-up compared to the 1.6-litre and the hybrid, so the ride isn’t as comfortable. It's still decent, though, but can be uncomfortable over bumps.
Toyota is synonymous with reliability and the Auris is constructed from already well-proven mechanical parts and technology. The engine range is used extensively in other Toyota and Lexus products, while the hybrid drivetrain is even more reliable than the diesel and petrol engines, thanks to there being fewer parts. As well as this, Toyota offers a five-year warranty across the range, with the battery pack for the Hybrid guaranteed for up to eight years. Toyota is defined by reliability.
The Auris is more practical than its predecessor, with specific focus on passenger space and comfort. The door openings, for example, are larger than before, to make getting in and out easier. The front seats have more adjustment, while the steering column has been repositioned for a more natural driving position, too. The thickness of the front seats has been reduced to give more rear legroom, and while it's still not spacious in the back, tall adults can be accommodated. The boot is larger, but at 360 litres, it trails key rivals, with the Ford Focus and VW Golf both having a 380-litre capacity.
Value for money
The Auris is better value money than ever, with a lower starting price that includes more features as standard. There are four equipment levels to choose from, starting with the Active, which includes LED headlamps with follow-me-home lighting, air-con, a four-speaker stereo with USB and MP3 compatibility, and seven airbags. The Icon model adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a six-speaker audio system with DAB radio and Bluetooth, push-button start and full electric windows, plus a rear-view camera. The Sport adds cosmetic tweaks like 17-inch wheels, while the flagship Excel version is finished with velour upholstery, heated front seats, climate control and park assist to automatically reverse park the car. The Auris undercuts many rivals, including the VW Golf, while still offering high-tech features.
The Auris Hybrid is the most efficient car in its class. In fact, it's the only hybrid car in this segment, and its figures of 74.3mpg and 87g/km of CO2 emissions are top notch. The most efficient VW Golf 1.6 TDI match the Auris Hybrid's 74.3mpg and the Hyundai i30 tops the Toyota with 76.3 – but both emit 99g/km of CO2. On top of this, the hybrid system has fewer moving parts than its diesel rivals and the regenerative braking reduces brake wear, making servicing cheaper than petrol and diesel Auris models. These versions are also competitive, the 1.4-litre diesel returning 74.3mpg and still only emitting a tax-free 99g/km of C02.