Toyota Auris hatchback
Price £15,945 - £25,145
- Cheap to run
- Very practical
- Extremely reliable
- Automatic not very refined
- Unexciting interior
- Lacks flair
At a glance
“If you’re after a car for straightforward A to B transport, the Toyota Auris could be for you. It’s practical, dependable, comfortable and cheap to run.”
There's no doubt that the small family hatchback class is an exceptionally tough one to excel in. But despite the fact that the Toyota Auris has many sterling qualities, it isn’t really outstanding in any one respect, instead relying on all-round competence to entice buyers.
Unfortunately, when you’re up against exceptional rivals like the SEAT Leon, Skoda Octavia, Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, as well as the Peugeot 308 and Mazda 3, you need to excel in order to stand out. This is where the case for the Auris falls apart a bit.
Although there's very little, if anything, specifically ‘wrong’ with the Auris, there are no standout features that make it a desirable alternative to any of the above rivals. It's not unpleasant to look at, but nor does it have a particularly interesting design. The interior doesn’t really inspire either, and there are some slightly suspect materials on show, too. Meanwhile, the graphics on the various screens and even the clock feel outdated. It's not a particularly exciting car to drive, either, with numb, vague steering and focus on comfort over everything else.
It's not all bad news, however. The Auris is a pretty comfortable car and in terms of practicality it's up there with the class best. There's 360 litres of boot space on offer – about average for the class – and there's plenty of room in the rear for either a couple of adults or three children.
Under the bonnet, you can choose from petrol, diesel or hybrid power. If you’re after the lowest possible running costs (one area where the Auris does stand out a little), then we’d recommend the hybrid. It’ll return an average of around 78.5mpg and has CO2 emissions of 79g/km, making it exempt from road tax. It's also a tempting company car, sitting as it does in the 15% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax bracket. The 1.4-litre diesel engine is also road tax exempt and actually has slightly better fuel economy than they hybrid, managing 80.7mpg, but it's slow, taking 12.5 seconds to go from 0-62mph.
If the hybrid doesn’t appeal – it's also not very quick (with 0-62mph taking 10.9 seconds) and its CVT automatic transmission can be frustrating – then we’d recommend the latest 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine. It's much quicker then the hybrid and still offers pretty good running costs – managing about 58mpg and emitting just 112g/km of CO2, meaning you only have to pay £30 a year in road tax. This comes with a manual gearbox as standard, which improves the driving experience greatly.
There are a couple of diesel engines, too: a 1.4 and a 1.6-litre. We’d recommend the latter, as it's powerful, smooth and efficient and will only cost you £20 a year to tax. It’ll also manage about 67mpg on average, meaning you won’t spend too much time at the pumps, either.
Out of the five trim levels – Active, Icon, Business Edition, Design and Excel, we’d recommend either Business Edition (as a company car) or Icon (for private buyers). These offer the best blend of an affordable purchase price and good standard equipment (optional extras can have a serious impact on your company car tax contributions).
The Auris Icon gets 16-inch alloy wheels, DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, a reversing camera, a leather steering wheel, a six-speaker stereo and an infotainment system controlled by a seven-inch touchscreen. The Business Edition model adds sat nav, cruise control and heated front seats.
Toyota's reputation for reliability is well earned and backed up by both a five-year/100,000-mile warranty and a strong result in our 2016 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. The car came 59th out of 150 overall, but impressed in terms of reliability – coming 28th in that discipline – while Toyota itself was ranked 16th out of 32 manufacturers overall and managed an impressive fourth place for reliability.
Safety won’t be a concern, either, thanks to a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test score and a shedload of standard safety equipment. Naturally, the Auris has plenty of airbags, stability control and anti-lock braking, while there are ISOFIX child-seat mounting points on the two outer rear seats. There's also a seatbelt reminder system for all passengers and a tyre-pressure warning system.
Frugal diesel, but the petrol-electric hybrid Auris is the model to go for
The Toyota Auris is a capable car, but you’re unlikely to enjoy driving it
Smart and well built, but the Toyota Auris can’t match the VW Golf’s interior
The Toyota Auris offers decent practicality, but it’s not class-leading
The Toyota Auris has a hard-won reputation for reliability and safety