From £11,945
More a luxury GT in miniature than a hot hatch. An intriguing Japanese curiosity.

Our Verdict

Toyota Auris 2007-2012

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

  • First Drive

    Toyota Auris Hybrid T4

    The first full hybrid in this class is impressively cheap to run, but its diesel rivals are a better drive
  • First Drive

    Toyota Auris 1.6

    The best Auris in the range - but not the best car in the sector
20 October 2007

What is it?

Imagine a Toyota Auris, spiffed up, sportified a touch and with a burbling 3.5 V6 nestling under the bonnet. That's what this is, and in its native Japan it's known as the Toyota Blade Master-G.

A VW Golf-style premium hatch that’s several times smoother, faster and more interesting than the capable but not class-leading Auris, this Blade Master-G is apparently too niche, exotic and CO2 suspect to make it anywhere near the UK, alas.

What's it like?

The Master-G proves pretty entertaining, as you might expect thanks to its big-engined formula and 276bhp and 254lb ft.

This 3456 cc V6 unit (lifted from the Lexus IS350) delivers the kind of instant power, zest and tractability the regular 2.4-litre Blade (another Japan-only product) and Auris can only dream of.

Refinement, too, for the V6 is creamily smooth all the way to the 6400rpm red line and with a wide power band, the Master-G really does just pick up and go, although the throttle response could be sharper. It sounds just the job, too.

A slick, quick-shifting six-speed auto with steering wheel paddle shifts is also part of the extensive spec list.

The cabin is big, roomy and high quality and while, on paper, the Master-G seems a Japanese version of the VW Golf R32, the reality is rather different.

For a start, the Toyota channels all the power through its front wheels and actually does a decent fist of it, with no discernible weaving or fight under power. Higher-grade suspension than the Auris – front struts, plus rear double wishbones – plays a role here.

But while handling is competent, it’s not nearly as incisive as the Golf's. The Master-G is fast but not exciting, with dull steering, and traction control that can’t be turned off.

Should I buy one?

If you’re a downsizing Japanese baby-boomer who want six cylinders, comfort, speed and kit in a compact, affordable package, the Master-G ticks all the right boxes.

This understated Toyota is more GT luxury than hot hatch and at the end of the day comes over as one of Japan’s most beguiling Q cars.

Peter Nunn

Join the debate

Comments
2

10 March 2009

I know, that basically it's the same engine, but to be correct the 2GR-FE engine is found in the Toyota Camry among others, but not in the Lexus IS 350. The engine in Lexus IS 350 is called the 2GR-FSE.

Basically the same engine, the difference between the two is, that the FSE in the IS 350 has direct injection, combined with conventional injection and i believe higher compression ratio. Where as the FE in among others the Camry only uses conventional injection. As a result, the engine used in the Lexus IS 350 and the Toyota Crown Athlete has 310 hp, compared to 270 in the Camry and the Blade Master G

10 March 2009

I would love to see this engine in the Avensis. Preferable using the Valvematic system

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Volvo V90
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The Volvo V90 is a big estate ploughing its own furrow. We’re about to see if it is refreshing or misguided
  • Kia Stonic
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Handsome entrant into the bulging small crossover market has a strong engine and agile handling, but isn’t as comfortable or complete as rivals
  • Hyundai Kona
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Hyundai's funky-looking Kona crossover with a peppy three-cylinder engine makes all the right noises for the car to be a success in a crowded segment
  • Citroën C3 Aircross
    First Drive
    17 October 2017
    The Citroen C3 Aircross has got funky looks and a charming interior, but it's another small SUV, and another dynamic miss. Numb steering is just one thing keeping it from class best
  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq