Toyota Auris hatchback
Price: £14,695 - £22,145
- Top class reliability
- Decent practicality
- Cheap to run
- It’s a little dull
- Interior a bit dated
- Noisy automatic gearbox
"The Toyota Auris is a well-made family hatchback that's reliable, practical and cheap to run."
The Toyota Auris is a rival for cars like the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Astra and Honda Civic. It ticks a lot of important boxes: it's reliable, practical, has a wide choice of economical engines, and there's a hybrid model on offer, too. The design is modern and reasonably stylish, and it's well priced. But there are some downsides to the Toyota Auris. The interior looks quite dated, and some of the materials used feel cheap. Plus, while it's an entirely capable car, the Auris is unlikely to ever put a smile on your face. It's very much a car you buy with your head, as opposed to your heart, to get you from A to B.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Auris is cheap to run thanks to excellent economy and efficiency
The Auris is designed to be a sensible car, so decent economy and efficiency are vital. Fortunately, it delivers in this respect – it's one of the most economical cars in the family hatchback class. The HybridSynergy Drive Auris is the most efficient, returning 74.3mpg and emitting 84g/km of CO2, making it exempt from road tax. And it's not the only model to escape the taxman's clutches; the 1.4-litre D-4D diesel also does 74.3mpg and emits 99g/km CO2. That compares well with rivals - the VW Golf 1.6-litre TDI diesel does 74.3mpg and emits 99g/km CO2, while the Hyundai i30 does marginally better economy at 76.3mpg but emits 99g/km CO2, too. The petrol engines in the Auris range don’t offer anywhere near as good running costs but they are still pretty efficient. The 1.6-litre is the worst performer in the range and will do 46.3mpg and 140g/km CO2. Servicing costs will be competitive, too, but the hybrid model will be particularly cheap to maintain as it has fewer moving parts than the models with conventional engines and the regenerative braking reduces the wear on the brake discs and pads.
Interior & comfort
Smooth, quiet and comfortable, but the interior is dated
The Auris doesn’t have the highest quality interior. It feels robust and well put together but there are a lot of cheap-feeling hard plastics. The design isn’t particularly nice, either – the placement of switches looks a bit slapdash and the clock is positioned too far away from the driver. The seats are comfortable, though, both in the front and back, and there's enough space in the rear to seat taller adults – although they may find head and legroom to be a little tight.
It's worth knowing that your choice of engine will affect ride quality, because the 1.33-litre petrol and diesel engines come with a slightly less sophisticated rear suspension than the hybrid and the other engines in the range, making these models a little less comfortable.
Practicality & boot space
The Auris offers decent practicality although it’s far from class-leading
Toyota made a number of improvements to the practicality of the Auris when they launched this latest generation. It's bigger than the old model and more spacious as a result. The front seats were made thinner so that rear passengers had more legroom and tall adults can fit in the back as a result. The doors openings were made wider, too, to make getting in and out easier. Things have improved in the front as well - there's more adjustment in the front seats, and the steering wheel position can now be adjusted for reach and rake, so it's easy to find a comfortable driving position.
Boot space is average on the Auris, with a capacity of 360 litres. It's quite a bit smaller than the 380-litre boot on the Volkswagen Golf but bigger than the 316 litres of capacity in the Ford Focus. Split-fold rear seats come as standard, too, in a 60:40 setup, so you can easily create more load space should you need it.
Reliability & safety
Superb levels of reliability and safety
One of the major selling points of any Toyota is reliability. The Japanese firm's cars are built to last, and the Auris is unlikely to be an exception to that rule, as it's made from parts and engines that have been extensively tried and tested in other models in both the Toyota and Lexus range. If that's not reassuring enough, Toyota offers a five-year warranty on all its cars – and the battery pack on hybrid models is guaranteed for eight years – so you’re covered should any major faults crop up in the initial stages of ownership.
Toyota's popularity with customers hasn’t been affected by the high profile recalls it's issued over the last few years, either. The brand finished ninth in the 2013 Driver Power satisfaction survey out of 32 manufacturers – a position that put it ahead of brands like Audi and BMW, not to mention Ford and Vauxhall. The Auris is safe, too - it was awarded five-stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests and comes as standard with electronic stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, and seven airbags.
Engines, drive & performance
The Auris is capable but hardly exciting
If you’re looking for a car that's fun to drive, the Auris is not for you. Sporty driving is not what it's designed for. The steering is light and easy, as is the clutch, which makes it good for town driving. But it doesn’t handle well at speed and there's quite a bit of body roll through corners – it's nowhere near a match for cars like the Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus and is, at best, competent.
The entry-level engine is a 98bhp 1.33-litre four-cylinder and it's actually pretty responsive and nippy about town. The 1.4-litre diesel may use less fuel, but it also has less power and isn’t as quick. Our pick of the line-up is the hybrid version. It actually offers the best driving experience, with decent performance despite its class-leading emissions.
Price, value for money & options
Great value price tag given the equipment levels
The Auris comes with a choice of four spec levels: Active, Icon, Sport and Excel. Entry-level models get LED headlamps, air-con, a four-speaker stereo with USB and MP3 connectivity and seven airbags as standard. Icon models add 16-inch alloy wheels, a six-speaker audio system with digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, push-button start, all-round electric windows, and parking camera. Sport models get some styling updates like 17-inch alloy wheels, while Excel cars come with velour upholstery, heated front seats, climate control and park assist, which automatically reverse parks the car. Toyota has priced it extremely competitively given the generous equipment list – it undercuts a lot of rivals that have a lot less kit. But it won’t hold on to its value as well as a 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."
Last updated: 7 Feb 2014