Interior space and style were Toyota's design prerogatives in the Auris project, and most people will find the mixture of raised gear lever console and clever instrument binnacle very appealing. But it doesn’t offer the Golf’s feeling of big-car quality, nor are the plastics as soft and squishy.
It won’t come as a surprise to learn that the build quality is exceptional, but those anticipating the same derivative Toyota-esque clocks will be greeted by a very attractive set of instruments. They are attractive and clear in equal measure.
Function doesn’t follow form quite as successfully in the rest of the cabin, though. The more time you spend with the Auris, the more baffling its quasi-MPV shape and interior trimmings seem.
Take the dramatic-looking console that houses the handbrake and gear lever. There’s no denying that it serves as an interesting focal point, but when all’s said and done, the space beneath it is useless and the small huddle of storage flaps in the centre armrest is just plain curious.
One of them houses a huge, removable ashtray; the others are so small as to be virtually useless. In terms of places to plonk the accoutrements of everyday life, the Auris is well behind the class average and, crucially, far behind the expectations set by its MPV-like styling language.
It is a spacious cabin, though; with plenty of head and shoulder room for four adults, and the individual squeezed into the middle of the back seat doesn’t need to be a tiddler, either. The boot has a stated volume of 354 litres, and Toyota makes specific mention of a low load height, but we thought it was actually quite high. The lack of a transmission tunnel means that there's room for three adults in back to sit in relative comfort.
The biggest thumbs-down, however, must go to the driver’s seat which is among the flattest and least supportive we’ve encountered in many years. Drive beyond Miss Daisy pace and you must grip the wheel to avoid falling out of it.