From £15,7145
The Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid has low headline running costs and impressive luggage space, but it fails to inspire dynamically with uncertain steering and a lack of torque

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?

This is the Toyota Auris estate, although with a name like Touring Sports you might imagine something a little more glamorous and powerful. There’s a small but solid market for these traditional estates, with most sold to fleet buyers. In fact, Toyota reckons that more than 60 per cent of these more practical Aurises will be destined for company car parks.

Like the Auris hatch, the estate is a neat, contemporary-looking wagon with a pleasing hint of the rakish, whose most impressive feature is that the drivetrain and battery pack of the hybrid version is accommodated without compromising the car’s luggage carrying capacity. Which is quite a feat. Not only that, but its 1658-litre seats-down loadspace is also the best in the class.

The load bay is also well shaped and will – just – swallow objects two metres long, although you’ll be getting intimate with the steering wheel with something that large in the space behind you. The tailgate is yawningly big, the seats fold easily and the removable roll-out parcel shelf doubles as a divider between the front seats and the load space, so it’s certainly practical.

Besides the 1.8 hybrid there are 1.3 and 1.6-litre petrol engines and a 1.4 diesel. There are alos four trim levels, the priciest Excel being the package sampled here.

What's it like?

As you’d expect, this estate version feels pretty similar to the Auris hatch but there are differences in the way it goes down the road. On the positive side, it rides well and possibly even better than the hatchback, despite the double wishbone rear suspension’s need to cater for widely varying weights. At moderate speeds it resists understeer tidily and has a fair bit of grip.

But there’s a mild vagueness to the steering, and in handling balance terms you get the impression that the car is carrying quite a load already – which in a sense it is, with that battery pack under the rear seat. According to the Auris’s deputy chief engineer Satoshi Tanaka, this vagueness is partly down to the tyres, with some original-fitment brands providing better steering feel than others.

The test car wore optional 17in wheels (15s are standard, reducing CO2 emissions from 92g/km to 85g/km) with Dunlop SP Sport Fastresponse rubber.

The hybrid powertrain is not the best choice, however, if this estate is to be regularly used as a beast of burden. Its 105lb ft of torque is sometimes wanting despite the assisting efforts of the electric motor.

This modest lugging power is underlined by the operational character of this hybrid drivetrain. The continuously variable belt-drive transmission prompts the engine to spin continuously at quite high revs and produce a less-than pleasing tone that’s distressingly reminiscent of a kitchen blender. When the car is laden you’ll be hearing this sound pretty often, which is a shame, because the Auris is otherwise impressively hushed at speed.

Otherwise, this more commodious Auris is much the same as the hatch. That means that it’s well equipped and convenient, but the cabin is undermined by a slabby cliff of a dashboard that’s burdened with a surprisingly uncoordinated mix of shapes, materials and textures. There’s not much wrong with its functionality, but this facia falls well short of the classy elegance of the dashboards fielded by Volkswagen, Kia, Hyundai and Ford. The rest of the interior is pretty average aesthetically, too.

Should I buy one?

If you need load volume and a well kitted, smooth-riding, conveniently appointed car, the Auris Touring Sports may be worth considering with its best-in-class loadbay.

But probably not as a hybrid, despite its impressively low emissions and the promise of economy, because it hasn’t the torque or refinement to pull big loads with a diesel’s ease. It’s just too noisy under load, and it's not an especially stout lugger, despite the assistance of an electric motor. 

The Touring Sport’s uncertain steering – at least on these tyres – will be off-putting for the keener driver, and the interior and its oddly dated, fussy dashboard fall well short of the design and quality standards set by its rivals. The Touring Sports may be well priced and quite decently equipped, but for many, that won’t be enough.

Toyota Auris Touring Sports 1.8 Hybrid Synergy Drive Excel

Price £22,845; 0-62mph 11.2sec; Top speed 109mph; Economy 70.6mpg; CO2 92g/km; Kerb weight 1465kg; Engine four cyls in line, 1798cc, petrol, plus electric motor; Power 132bhp at 5200rpm; Torque 105lb ft at 4000rpm; Gearbox CVT

Join the debate

Comments
19

27 June 2013

Better looking than the original Auris, better looking than the hatch and making great use of it's dimensions, on paper this tourer has much going for it. But will be surprised if NCAP give it any more than 2 stars owing to a major safety flaw - that interior is enough to send any driver to sleep.

27 June 2013

Given the dated/drab look of that dashboard, perhaps Toyota should think of bringing back the old "Corolla" name ... There's certainly nothing "gold"en about the Auris ...

27 June 2013

Toyota were going to try to cultivate a more exiting and dynamic image?

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

27 June 2013

Well, it is "more exciting and dynamic" than the previous one.

Cant see whats wrong with the dash, I quite like it, best bit of the car, better than the horrid "bad" 80s rubbish that seems to be the fashion at the mo.

27 June 2013

Oh come on Autocar. If you're going to review cars, could you at least use a reviewer who knows one end of the car from the other? Toyota's hybrids have never used belt drive transmissions. You spend a lot of time telling us how much feel to expect from the steering, and what size tyres you can buy, but not a single word as to what sort of economy to expect. What's the point of review that mentions you can buy a diesel, petrol, or hybrid version of the car, but gives the reader absolutely no clue about how economical they are, and whether or why you should pick one version over the other. I can decide for myself whether I like the looks of the dashboard and unless the handling is dangerous, I don't actually care whether my family estate car is going to understeer when the kids, dogs, and contents of the local garden centre are plastered against the side windows around roundabouts.

Your reviews seem to be increasingly inaccurate and irrelevant.

27 June 2013

Review fail.  I think there is certainly a new niche opening up for a magazine that actually bothers to properly inform about the technical aspects of modern cars.  Or at least understands how they work.  I look back at the old Motor road test annuals from the 1980's and weep to see what motoring journalism has become.

If you don't know how it works how can you hope to drive it properly, or at least to best advantage?

2 July 2013

Clarkey wrote:

Review fail.  I think there is certainly a new niche opening up for a magazine that actually bothers to properly inform about the technical aspects of modern cars.  Or at least understands how they work.  I look back at the old Motor road test annuals from the 1980's and weep to see what motoring journalism has become.

If you don't know how it works how can you hope to drive it properly, or at least to best advantage?

+1, why do these reviewers blatantly not do their job, it can't be that hard to read up on the technicalities of the car they are driving the information is freely available on the internet, yet they choose to just drive the car and give a biased opinion based on their own preferences in vehicles. I can't imagine for one minute that the little Auris is a poor performer, I have the bigger heavier Prius+ 7 seater and the performance is more than ample and it is quicker off the mark than most and doesn't run out of puff until well over the  legal speed limits. Admitedly the constant engine note under hard accelleration is a bit daunting at first but if you watch the speedometer, you will see it is accellerating at a fair lick although the engine note is not following it. It is no way sports car like but good enough. 

27 June 2013

I considered one of these as a company car due to the low BIK. Then read it was just as loud and thrashy on the motorway as the awful Prius I already have. And it also has no option of a spare wheel - and after already being left stranded by Toyota's 'credible alternative' tyre repair kit I just totally lost interest.

And the dashboard looks awful too.

27 June 2013

Rich boy spanners wrote:

I considered one of these as a company car due to the low BIK. Then read it was just as loud and thrashy on the motorway as the awful Prius I already have. And it also has no option of a spare wheel - and after already being left stranded by Toyota's 'credible alternative' tyre repair kit I just totally lost interest.

And the dashboard looks awful too.

Shut up you troll!

28 June 2013

'Winston Churchill', please grow up. Add a useful comment or go back to school and read your comics, And please, don't take the name of a great man in vain.

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