Facelifted design brings Toyota family look
Adjusted dampers coped well on smooth Spanish roads
1.6 petrol engine is the pick of the conventionally engine range
Development work included UK road runs
Functional interior is a boon
Boot space is reasonable - and backed up by good interior space
Interior is updated with more soft touch surfaces
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
What is it?
This is the 1.6-litre petrol powered version of the facelifted Auris, linked to a six speed gearbox. It is expected to be the range’s best-seller, although Toyota has set optimistic predictions for the Auris hybrid that is coming later this year.
The facelifted Auris has undergone some mechanical tweaks, plus minor interior improvements and visual changes to bring it in line with the latest Toyota look.
Key to the mechanical changes are retuned dampers – with testing including running in the UK – and changes to the electrically assisted power steering, to improve its feel.
What’s it like?
The Auris has always been tagged as being good without being great, and it is going to take more than a mid-life facelift to put it on a par with, say, the VW Golf for refinement or Ford Focus for driver involvement.
However, the facelifted Auris is a more compelling proposition than it was, and the 1.6-litre engine is by far the best unit in the range. While the 1.33 struggles for guts and is thrashy out of town, and the 1.4 diesel is gruff, the 1.6 delivers acceptable performance and refinement in all conditions.
With 130bhp and a 0-62mph time of 10sec it is never going to get your pulse racing, but it does combine useful performance with decent average fuel consumption of 42.8mpg and 146g/km of CO2. The gearchange is easy and precise.
The revised steering is an improvement. While it still lacks feel and can never be described as truly engaging, it is more entertaining and direct than it was.
The Auris retains its MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear set-up, and on our smooth Spanish test roads coped well with expansion joints on motorways and rode rippled surfaces better than ever before. Only a full UK test will confirm how much of a step forward Toyota has made in this area, though.
There’s no doubt the Auris’s cabin, which is well insulated from engine, wind and road noise, is enhanced by the latest modifications, but only marginally. It always was a nice place to be, and the addition of some soft touch materials add a small degree of comfort. Likewise, extra standard kit such as a USB port are welcome.
There’s also a little bit more storage space in the cabin, which remains roomy and still benefits from having a flat rear floor, making carrying three small people in the back a realistic proposition over reasonable distances.
Should I buy one?
The Auris remains a decent, if largely uninspiring, choice of car. And if you want an Auris that’s going to venture beyond the city limits, then there’s no doubt that this engine is the pick of the range.
What’s more, Toyota is claiming a price advantage over its rivals, thanks to building the car in the UK, and therefore avoiding the price fluctuations that have beset European-based rivals
However, we’d still suggest test driving obvious rivals such as the VW Golf and Ford Focus before committing.