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First drive: Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.

First drive: Toyota Auris
Toyota's Auris gets a new look, a new interior and a chassis that deserves more than a mention.

 



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| First Drive | Dublin, Ireland | Toyota Auris |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

The Toyota Auris has always been white goods motoring. Nothing about the car was memorable. But Toyota has changed all that in the new model, giving its Golf rival a bold look, an interesting interior, a range of efficient engines and, surprisingly, a half decent chassis.

Key Facts

Model tested: Toyota Auris 1.4 D4-D Icon
Pricing: 18,495 (prices start from 14,495)
Engine: 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door hatchback
Rivals: Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Volkswagen Golf
CO2 emissions: 103g/km (VED Band B)
Combined economy: 72.4mpg
Top speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 12.5 seconds
Power: 90hp at 3,800rpm
Torque: 205Nm at 1,800- to 2,800rpm

In the Metal: 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

I bet you can't even remember what the old Toyota Auris looked like. It really was the most forgettable shape in the class. Thankfully Toyota's designers were allowed more freedom this time around and the exterior of the new Auris is certainly striking. Some won't like it, and the detailing in places is fussy, but at least it's interesting now. A lower roofline helps matters enormously. Changes under the skin are significant too, with weight savings of 40kg quoted.

The interior is completely different too. Gone is the odd 'bridge' centre console for a start. The dashboard is particularly upright, but the expanse of plastic is broken up by several material changes - and for the most part these are of the soft-touch variety. The switchgear is as logically situated and unbreakable feeling as ever in a Toyota and there's modest room front and rear. Though the wheelbase is unchanged, the front seats have been reshaped to give more rear legroom and the back doors open wider to ease ingress. Meanwhile, the boot is larger thanks to elongation of the rear bodywork.

Driving it: 4 4 4 4 4

A 40mm lower driver's seat sets the tone here and indeed the driving position offers a wide range of adjustment. The ride height is 10mm lower than before as well, which, with the reduction in overall height, must significantly lower the Auris' centre of gravity. It seems to have paid off dividends in terms of the driving experience. This car changes direction quickly with no slack in the steering. There's not a load of feedback either sadly, but the body control is good and the damping excellent. It can be driven quite hard even in wet and bumpy conditions too such is its stability. While it's still not as great an all-rounder as the Golf, nor as agile as the Focus, the Auris can now at least stand up and be counted.

The six-speed manual gearbox that is standard across the line-up (Hybrid aside) has a satisfying shift action as well. Our test car was powered by the solitary diesel option, a 90hp 1.4-litre unit. It's not over-endowed with performance, though is at least quite refined. We'd like to see more diesel options in the range to keep up with the faster Golf TDI models, however.

What you get for your Money: 4 4 4 4 4

Toyota is introducing a new range grading structure with the Auris, divided up into Active, Icon, Sport and Excel versions. Active models feature seven airbags, stability control, LED daytime running lights, climate control, USB and aux-in connectivity, electric front windows and heated, electrically adjusted door mirrors.

The Icon adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a DAB tuner, Toyota Touch infotainment system (incorporating Bluetooth, a rear-view parking camera and more), electric rear windows, front fog lights and leather trim for the steering wheel and gear shifter.

Next up is Sport, which features 17-inch rims, rear privacy glass, sports seats for the front and sportier detailing on the outside. Above that is the Auris Excel, which is loaded with equipment, including part-leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, auto lights and wipers, auto-folding door mirrors, heated front seats and more.

Prices start at 14,495 for the 1.33-litre petrol model in Active guise. Though not all engines and trim levels are available together, there's generally a big step of 2,650 from Active to Icon, then modest premiums of 750 and 1,000 for the Sport and Excel models respectively. The 1.4 D-4D engine commands an additional 1,000 over the 1.6-litre petrol option, or 1,350 over the 1.33-litre. Other than the Hybrid version the only automatic gearbox option comes with the 1.6-litre petrol variant.

Worth Noting

Toyota has confirmed that there will be no three-door version of the Auris this time around, though a shapely estate, called the Tourer, does arrive in summer 2013. Like the hatchback that'll be available in Hybrid format too. We assume it'll come with the same high level of standard equipment. The Auris Hybrid hatchback starts at 19,995 in Icon trim and emits just 87g/km of CO2.

Summary

While the styling of the new Toyota Auris may split opinion, we applaud the Japanese company for at least making it interesting. Thankfully the new-found daring has not been at the expense of quality or efficiency - indeed the Auris is more efficient than before. Despite all that it's the Auris' competence on the road that surprised us most. Could it, at last, become a real contender?


Shane O' Donoghue - 29 Nov 2012









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2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.

2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.



2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.
 

2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.
 

2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.
 

2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.
 

2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.
 

2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.
 

2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.
 

2013 Toyota Auris. Image by Toyota.
 






 

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