From £15,7146
In the past we've rated the Toyota Auris as solid and dependable but hardly exciting. Has a mid-life refresh injected it with a sense of fun?

Our Verdict

Toyota Auris

The new Toyota Auris is super-rational and a good ownership proposition, but it lacks character and dynamics of the best in class

What is it?

At Autocar we think cars should be fun to drive. This rule applies whether we’re discussing sports cars or family hatchbacks, which is why we're so fond of the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf.

Dynamically the Auris has left us cold, but for this latest version Toyota has reworked the suspension and steering to sharpen things up. There’s also the new 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine we’re testing here, as well as a new 1.6-litre diesel to go with the existing petrol, diesel and hybrid offerings. 

With a new grille that extends into revised headlights, plus restyled front and rear bumpers and LED tail-lights, Toyota has also aimed to give it a more purposeful look.

It’s safer, too, because you can now opt for a package that adds lane assist, automatic high-beam headlights, road-sign display and collision avoidance.

What's it like?

The new 1.2-litre engine is a little gem. It only produces 114bhp but feels sprightly once the boost arrives at 1500rpm, from where it revs cleanly all the way to the somewhat previous 5500rpm limiter. And being a four-cylinder unit it’s smooth, too, certainly when compared to the Focus’s waspish 125 Ecoboost triple.

We tried a manual gearbox-equipped model, and although the gearlever is curiously long, it has a decent action as you snick each of its six ratios. The clutch also has a positive bite point and the brake pedal a progressive action. So far so good, then.

What about the all-important handling upgrades? Well, it’s better than the old car. The steering could use a bit more weight in its neutral position, but it’s quick as you turn into a corner and builds weight steadily as you add lock.

Our drive was on a soggy day in Belgium, so it was hard to assess grip levels, but suffice to say in such conditions the Auris is front-end limited. What we can say is it’s still not as fun as a Focus or Golf. There’s more initial body roll and, even once it’s settled mid-bend, the Auris never really feels engaging or playful.

It rides better than before, though, soaking up all but the biggest potholes even on the larger 17in wheels. And while the wet weather also made overall refinement hard to gauge, Toyota has added extra soundproofing that seems to hold the worst of the wind and road noise at bay.

In the cabin you get a good driving position bar the short reach adjustment from the steering wheel, but otherwise six-footers will be comfortable enough. Not so in the rear, mind, with limited leg room leaving it a little tight for lanky folk.

Smarter materials improve perceived cabin quality but it still looks rather sombre inside, although the new 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system is certainly an improvement over the old set-up.

Should I buy one?

This is a class that’s brimming with great cars, and although the Auris has improved it hasn't caught up with its rivals.

It is, however, worth mentioning Toyota’s excellent reliability record and the fact the Auris comes with a five-year warranty, so for dependability it scores top marks. But for fun? We would still choose a Golf or a Focus for that.

Toyota Auris 1.2 Turbo 5dr manual

Location Belgium; On sale now; Price £18,279; Engine 4 cyls, 1197cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 114bhp at 5200-5600rpm; Torque 136lb ft at 1500-4000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1350kg; 0-62mph 10.1sec; Top speed 124mph; Economy 58.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 112g/km, 17%

Join the debate

Comments
10

26 June 2015
Welcome to the world of Turbo'ing a small'ish petrol engine. Honda next as it's time to get rid of that ancient 1.8

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

26 June 2015
a 1.5 Turbo then a mainstream 1.8-2.0

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

26 June 2015
you will make the luddites get their claws out with comments like that, because they will think that turbocharging doesn't make the blindest bit of difference to real world co2 emissions and therefore Honda should keep all their old NA engines.

26 June 2015
All these petrol turbos arriving, it is all a bit exhausting. Be good, though, to have a group test of half a dozen exclusively small turbo engined (not "city") cars for a change from all the expensive stuff. Speaking of exhausting, that rear three quarter view shows an alarmingly visible exhaust run. Shouldn't happen on modern cars should it? Incidentally, how long are the turbos likely to last and how costly to replace?

26 June 2015
good to so old Autocar "keeping it real" with consistently giving Toyota products average scores while the VW trash is praised as the best thing since sliced bread despite dreadful customer experience and below average reliability which is ultimately what matters to car buyers spending their hard earned cash!

CROmagnon

26 June 2015
Cromagnon wrote:

good to so old Autocar "keeping it real" with consistently giving Toyota products average scores while the VW trash is praised as the best thing since sliced bread despite dreadful customer experience and below average reliability which is ultimately what matters to car buyers spending their hard earned cash!

If that matters to you, you need to read Whatcar. I don't understand why people do this. Its the equivalent of wanting quality news, reading the Dailymail and complaining its full of fluff pieces. It may have escaped your notice that Autocar care more about your shopping trolley lift off over steering than how reliable it is or how good dealership service is. If it has, I regret to inform you that are reading the wrong website / publication.

26 June 2015
Truth hurts for some readers...so well said

26 June 2015
danielcoote wrote:

Truth hurts for some readers...so well said

I was talking about Cromagnon's post/point - which is valid IMO and experience

27 June 2015
Cromagnon wrote:

good to so old Autocar "keeping it real" with consistently giving Toyota products average scores while the VW trash is praised as the best thing since sliced bread despite dreadful customer experience and below average reliability which is ultimately what matters to car buyers spending their hard earned cash!

I have been with VW for nearly 8 years, several vehicles, and have yet to experience the dreadful customer experience and below average reliability to which you allude. My local dealership are professional, polite, helpful, attentive, and any issues that have arisen have been dealt with quickly and to my satisfaction. I've not tried Toyota yet, but I have not heard anyone speak ill of them or their products. Autocar do like the GT86, incidentally, gets a good billing as a driver's car. I suspect that if Toyota injected a bit more of that flair into their mainstream, then there would be more stars awarded by Autocar.

23 July 2015
I must admit to being a Luddite as I still prefer n/a engines as I like to build up through the revs rather than riding the wave of torque, this all comes as we are used to driving turbo diesels and want our petrols to drive similarly, I know its more practical to have low down power rather than power at the top of the rev range like a civic type r which you could argue is always illegal if you're enjoying it but i still prefer the feeling of n/a's.....sorry

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