The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder
Improved looks and character, but forget about hairpin thrills in the Alps
Pros
Good value
More exciting design
Looks good in grey
Cons
Not much fun to drive
Too simplistic interior
Still a little bland overall

First Drive review: Toyota Auris (2015)

Handsome, but modest with it

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Toyota Auris first drive review

2015 Toyota Auris at a glance

  • Handling: ★★☆☆☆
  • Performance: ★★★☆☆
  • Design: ★★★★☆
  • Interior: ★★★☆☆
  • Practicality: ★★★☆☆
  • Costs: ★★★★☆

Toyota Auris, from £13,995

THE ONLY problem I’ve really had with the Toyota Auris is mild confusion over the name. What exactly is an auris? Or perhaps more importantly, where is it? To my ears an auris is either some kind of evil bird in the Harry Potter books or it’s the name for an intimate body part you didn’t know you had until a doctor told you it was inflamed and needed a cream.


Browse the used Toyota Auris for sale on driving.co.uk


Other people, though, appear to have had slightly more extensive reservations about this modest, unassuming hatchback since it first arrived in the UK in 2007, not least reviewers, who have tended to find it a touch underwhelming. And with South Korean makers such as Hyundai and Kia looking increasingly sharp and nipping away at Toyota’s ankles, this is a bad time for the Japanese company to be having an underwhelming phase.

All of which explains this latest version of the Auris, which has been the subject of a relatively broad overhaul, within and without, in the hope that it might come over more like a characterfully competitive forecourt proposition and less like a roll of wallpaper.

The lower grille runs wider, eliminating the slightly buckety look of the old one. There are various chrome wings and trim lines flying about the place to make the car look a touch more lively. It gives the impression of straddling the road a little more broadly, partly because it sits down a little lower.

I actually thought it looked rather handsome, and I can’t remember the last time I felt that way about a mainstream Toyota, even momentarily

These things are wildly subjective, but when our test model turned up in a fetchingly chill shade of grey, I actually thought it looked rather handsome, and I can’t remember the last time I felt that way about a mainstream Toyota, even momentarily.

Inside, the dashboard has been cleaned up and slimmed down and in its simplicity and understatement makes the dash on a Honda Civic, for example, appear to be a tilting pinball machine by comparison. Farewell to cheesy silver paint too. On the new Auris, if it looks like chrome, it is chrome. Nobody is going to confuse any of the plastic here with the fittings of a Bentley but they’re not going to find it lagging behind the plastic on a Ford Focus either, which is probably a more worthwhile comparison.

Toyota Aursi first drive

I had the new 1.6-litre diesel engine, which had an old-fashioned chug to it at tick-over that melted down to a pleasant hum at speed, thanks presumably to the various new layers of insulation. There’s also a new 1.2-litre petrol engine, and a hybrid model is available for those drivers who want ultra-frugal wafting.

The power steering has been upgraded to throw in more weight as you get above 35mph but I either didn’t notice this going on at the time or I’ve forgotten about it since. Steering the Auris seemed to me to be light and fairly muzzy at all speeds, from crawl through to quick.

If your prime interest in buying a hatchback is to sling it for knuckle-whitening thrills around the mountain passes of Europe then you’ll probably need to shop elsewhere — perhaps at the hotter end of the Focus or Vauxhall Astra ranges. If, however, you’re not envisaging getting up to anything more extreme than turning into the end of your own road, then the Auris won’t let you down.

2015 Toyota Auris 1.6 D-4D Excel specifications
  • Engine: 1598cc, 4 cylinders
  • Power: 110bhp @ 4000rpm
  • Torque: 199 lb ft @ 1750rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual
  • Performance: 0-62mph: 10.5sec
  • Top speed: 121mph
  • Fuel: 65.7mpg (combined)
  • CO2: 110g/km
  • Road tax band: B (free for first year; £20 thereafter)
  • Price: £22,885
  • Release date: On sale now

 


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