"The Toyota Auris is a well-made hatchback with an unrivalled range of engines, plus low running costs."
The Toyota Auris is a family hatchback that rivals the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. Its main assets are strong reliability, practicality and choice of engines, with the range including a hybrid model. As it was the first Toyota to use the manufacturer's current design style, it looks modern and stylish, more effectively boosting its appeal to a wider audience than the previous model. It's also more practical, with wider door openings, more interior space and a larger boot thanks to bigger dimensions. The hybrid Auris is also the first to be developed specifically for this purpose, so it's been designed and engineered to maximise space, secret away battery packs and remain as practical as any of the other petrol or diesel cars in the range.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
So, yes – the HybridSynergy Drive Auris is the most efficient, returning 74.3mpg in combined fuel economy and emitting a road tax-free 84g/km of CO2. But it's not alone – the 1.4-litre D-4D diesel model returns the same economy, and just scrapes in below the magic 100g/km mark, too, emitting 99g/km. The Auris Hybrid is the most efficient hybrid car in its class. Well, it's actually the only hybrid car in this class, but it's still impressive. The most efficient Volkswagen Golf 1.6-litre TDI does match its 74.3mpg, while the Hyundai i30 even tops it with 76.3mpg – but both emit 99g/km of CO2, like the most efficient diesel in the Auris. Also, the hybrid has fewer moving parts than either its diesel or petrol rivals, and the regenerative braking also reduces brake wear, making servicing cheaper than all the conventional combustion engine Auris models. These versions are also competitive, however, starting with the previously mentioned 1.4-litre diesel, while the 1.6-litre petrol models are the worst performers, returning approximately 46.3mpg and emitting 140g/km – which is still pretty good.
Interior & comfort
Inside, the Auris is much better quality than the car it replaces. The sears are more comfortable, in both the front and the back, while the back can now happily seat taller adults, even with the sloping roof and some slightly tight knee room. If you’re able to get the highest-spec models, then you’ll get some lumbar in the seats as an added bonus. It's also a lot quieter than its predecessor, while which engine you choose will basically dictate the quality of the ride. If you choose the 1.33-litre petrol or the diesel, the rear suspension is slightly less sophisticated than the 1.6-litre or the hybrid, so the ride just isn’t as comfortable. It's still good enough, but is that little bit more uncomfortable over bigger bumps.
Practicality & boot space
The latest Auris offers more space than the car it replaced, making it much more practical as a day-to-day car. Specific focus has been paid to passenger space and comfort, with the door openings being made larger to make getting in and out of the car easier. The front seats also have more adjustment in the new model, and the steering wheel can now be adjusted for reach and rake to find the best driving position for virtually any driver. The front seats are also thinner than they used to be, which creates more legroom in the back for rear passengers. It's never going to be spacious back there, but at least taller adults can now be fitted in – five of them at a real push. The boot now offers 360 litres, which is less than the Auris’ rival, the Volkswagen Golf, but is more than the Ford Focus’ 316 litres. You can also fold down the standard-fit split-fold rear seats to create even more room if required, while the boot opening is wide and low to allow for easy loading. And because this Auris was specifically developed with the hybrid model in mind, the batteries don’t take up any of that valuable boot space, so it's as practical as every other model in the range.
Reliability & safety
Toyota has always been synonymous with reliability, and even though it dropped four places to ninth in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey's manufacturers rankings, that reputation is still well deserved. It certainly hasn’t performed worse since it came fifth in 2012, with market changes and expectations shifting slightly, plus some new models not being around long enough to counterbalance the effects of age and familiarity. For instance, this latest Auris doesn’t feature in the Driver Power survey yet, but the first-generation car is present and correct – low down the list of top 100 at number 90. You can expect a new Toyota to make its debut much higher up the chart. The Auris is constructed from already tried-and-tested mechanical parts and technology from across the Toyota range, including engines that have been used extensively in other Toyota and Lexus cars. The hybrid drivetrain is even more reliable than the diesel and petrol engines, mainly because there are fewer moving parts that can wrong, plus Toyota offers a five-year warranty across the whole range, with the battery pack for the Hybrid guaranteed for up to eight years. That should give virtually any buyer some confidence in the product. Unsurprisingly for a Toyota, the Auris also secured the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests. All models come fitted with electronic stability control (ESP), anti-lock brakes (ABS) and seven airbags as standard equipment.
Engines, drive & performance
You can get the Auris with a choice of three engines – a 98bhp 1.33-litre four-cylinder being the smallest and also used in the Toyota Yaris. It's also very useful when you need to zip through small gaps in traffic around town, proving responsive and quick. However, the 1.4-litre diesel engine actually uses less fuel, even if the trade-off is slightly lower acceleration. Of the models on offer, we’d actually recommend the hybrid version – it offers the best overall driving experience, with eager acceleration and a virtually silent motor at low speeds. Plus, even if you put the larger wheels on it, the Auris remains comfortable, which is a blessing for rougher city roads. It has light and easy steering, and it handles well when driving through corners. However, it is simply nowhere near as fun to drive as the likes of the Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus, and as these cars do match it for efficiency and power, the drive just isn’t up to snuff.
Price, value for money & options
Toyota has made the Auris the best value for money that it has even been, with a lower starting price for a car that comes loaded with equipment and accessories as standard. There are four main specification levels to choose from – the entry-level Active, mid-range Icon, Sport and top-of-the-range Excel. The Active comes fitted with LED headlamps with follow-me-home lighting, air-conditioning, a four-speaker stereo with USB and MP3 connectivity, and seven airbags as standard. The Icon model also includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a six-speaker audio system with DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity, push-button start and full all-around electric windows, plus a rear-view camera. The Sport adds cosmetic sporty tweaks like 17-inch wheels, and the top-spec Excel is fitted with velour upholstery, heated front seats, climate control and park assist that automatically reverse parks the car. Even with all of this equipment, the Auris still manages to undercut many of its rivals, including the class-leading Volkswagen Golf.