Richard Bremner
28 November 2012

What is it?

It’s a sharper-looking second-generation Auris, with proportions and weight distribution reconfigured to provide the more engaging drive demanded by enlightened Toyota boss Akio Toyoda. So while both platform and wheelbase are carry-over, a lower roofline and reduced ride height have yielded a roll-reducing centre of gravity affording more supple suspension. Those worrying about heads striking headlinings needn’t fret, either. The height reduction has been in part prompted by the outgoing Auris’s taller-than-average proportioning, and Toyota is compensating with a roof that billows above each seat row. A reduced frontal area is a useful aerodynamic gain, with the Auris’s drag coefficient falling to 0.28, while its weight drops by an average of 50kg across the range.

Improved fuel efficiency, handling and ride are the aims, while criticism of the old car’s striking but ergonomically troubled flying-buttress centre console has provoked a major rethink of the dashboard’s architecture and finish. Of which more shortly.

The front suspension uses the same MacPherson strut layout as before but with tweaks, while the sophisticated double wishbone rear suspension, previously reserved for the most potent diesel, has now been bestowed on this 128bhp 1.6, the most sophisticated feature of which is its variable lift and duration valve timing. It’s hooked to a six-speeder, and you’ll be using it to chase a high-altitude, 4400rpm torque peak.

What is it like?

If some of the above sounds unpromising, the happy surprise is that this mid-range Auris gels rather well on the road, on smaller fuel-saving 16-inch rims at least. The ride is pleasingly compliant, the stiffer body feels satisfyingly robust, the old car’s cornering flop has gone and the electric power steering is accurate and more consistent, despite the leather-edged rim feeling over-light. And although it needs revving, judicious sound-proofing has smothered the 1.6 Valvematic’s threshings and tyre hum. Apart from a light flutter around the door windows, the Auris delivers calm high-speed cruising.

The cabin ambience is less than pleasing, however.  An interior as dull as a cloudburst is one thing, but the crude cliff of fussily rendered dashboard is quite another. The facia is the most stared-at part of a car if you’re its driver, yet this new Auris has lost the old model’s appealingly multi-layered instruments, the multimedia system sits inside a cheap asymmetric plastiminium-rimmed panel and the turf-like slab of soft-feel plastic that caps this sculpturally dull edifice completely fails to suggest expense, even if the brushed aluminium ahead of the passenger pleases.

Should I buy one?

Volkswagen’s Golf Mk6 was the benchmark for this Toyota, but you won’t believe that when you sit in it. And that’s a pity, because the 1.6 has quiet appeal with its refinement, agility, convenience and low running costs. This is undoubtedly a better Auris, but it still flails in VW’s wake. 

Toyota Auris 1.6 Icon

Price: £17,495; 0-62mph: 10.0 secs; Top speed: 124mph; Economy: 52.3mpg (combined); CO2: 138g/km; Kerb weight: 1270kg; Engine: 4 cyls in line, 1598cc, petrol; Power: 128bhp at 6400rpm; Torque: 118lb ft at 4400rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

Join the debate


Shame that, was rather hoping

1 year 46 weeks ago

Shame that, was rather hoping for more with this new corolla, sorry, Auris. Nevertheless looking forward to a full road test

twitter @anikadamali, @notPCnairobi

read between the lines

1 year 46 weeks ago

There are quite a few plus points for this. Judging by these pictures it's a lot prettier than earlier scoop shots floating round the internet made it look The dash isn't covered by the horrible stuff they put in German cars (which may cause spontaneous weeping in Autocar testers, but pleases me a lot), although the seat coverings do look a bit Germanic. Hopefully they'll get some nice nylon velour and get rid of that awful shiny German taxi material.

It's six grand (six grand ffs!) cheaper than the smaller engined golf that autocar carried an advert for the other day (labelled as a first drive or some such). And it would appear that it will be made in Britain.

Why on earth would anyone buy a golf?

Why do they always fail?

1 year 46 weeks ago

I just don't understand why a car manufacturer would allow an important car like this to have a dashboard like a 1980 Carina when they KNOW it has to be at least as good as the Golf's.

It's not about size, it's what you do with it!

1 year 46 weeks ago

Chris576 wrote:

It's six grand (six grand ffs!) cheaper than the smaller engined golf that autocar carried an advert for the other day (labelled as a first drive or some such). And it would appear that it will be made in Britain.

Why on earth would anyone buy a golf?

Have a look at the stats for this Auris 1.6 and then look at the stats for the 1.4 TSI 140ps Golf Autocar reviewed.  The Golf has 140ps max output between 4500-6000 rpm, 184 lb ft torque between 1500-3500 rpm, 0-62 in 8.2 secs, fuel economy urban 47.9 extra-urban 65.7 combined 58.9, 109 g/km co2 which puts this 140ps 1.4 TURBO engine at £20 annual road tax. Plus this Golf is the top end GT trim so don't get me started on the difference in spec (see VW website)  Then go and look how much a used Auris is worth against a Golf.  £6000 extra seems like a bargain to me. 

I really think Toyota have lost their way, I am far more impressed with Kia and Hyundai products than any of the Japanese mainstream.

yet another..............

1 year 46 weeks ago

bland offering from Toyota, why bother there are many cars in this sector that do it better even by the Koreans in the shape of the Kia Cee'd and Hyundai i30. no wonder they are doing so well.

Dreadful dashboard

1 year 46 weeks ago

Undoubtedly the worst thing about this new Auris is the dashboard. If that were more attractive, and with nicer materials to boot, then this would be a fine car, judging by the compliments it receives elsewhere. 

What really annoys me is the hideous little 1990s digital clock towards the passenger side of the dash. What's that all about?! 

I had a Mk3 Yaris as a courtesy car a couple of weeks ago, after my Aygo got bumped by a lorry. The Yaris was pleasing in terms of in car entertainment (the touch screen/bluetooth system was excellent), and it's very spacious. However, the dashboard was unappealing to interact with otherwise.

I really hope Toyota have let Citroen and Peugeot do most of the work on the forthcoming Aygo/108/C1 interiors, or we could be in for another horror.

"Work hard and be nice to people"

Not a looker

1 year 46 weeks ago

I saw a car transporter parked up loaded with these things so I had a quick look and it doesn't look any better in the metal. The front is just ugly and the back looks like a copy of the latest Hyundai i30. Didn't look at the interior but if it is as bad as it looks in the photos...oh dear.


The Car Trailing You is ......

1 year 46 weeks ago

Toyota may be the world's largest car maker, but most of the Toyotas I have seen lag behind the comeptition. While Toyota bosses were raking in numbers the competition moved on. Not to mention German rivals even the Koreans make much better cars nowadays.

With the excpetion for their capable but expensive hybrid technology and the recent GT86 Toyota does not really have much to shout about. About time they change their catchline to: The Car Trailing You is Toyota!

Hybrid is the way forward!

Thank God they haven't

1 year 46 weeks ago

Thank God they haven't upsized.


Toyota The best car maker in the world

1 year 46 weeks ago

Unfortunately they don't make the best cars.

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Our Verdict

The Toyota Auris is a spacious, but unspectacular attempt at a high quality Golf rival. Only the availability of a hybrid lifts it from obscurity

Driven this week