In the mind’s eye of many in the British motoring press Toyota has an undying fascination with producing ‘monosyllabic’ cars. On some levels the Auris does justify the latter, however even Toyota, the worlds biggest car maker, can sprinkle an individual touch of flair into their model range.
First introduced in 2006 and now in its 2nd generation, the Auris is available as a compact hatch and estate with 4 trim levels and 12 different versions on offer. The Touring Sports starts at £15k and ranges up to £23k for the Hybrid version. There is a choice of 1.33-litre and 1.6-litre petrol engines, in addition to a 1.4 turbodiesel. The 1.8-litre petrol is only available as an electric-hybrid and it emits just 92g/km of CO2 saving you tax and congestion charges as well as healing the world.
Design wise the Auris Touring Sports Hybrid has a mildly sinuous exterior style, its based on the same platform as the 5 door hatch but is obviously longer, by 285mm. The rear loading aperture is lowered by 100mm to enable easy accessibility. The interior isn’t bad in terms of refinement or materials used, its a mix of soft and hard plastics and is well screwed together. You may have read criticism elsewhere that the interior feels cheap, that’s not exactly true. For sure its not a premium experience but its by no means an expression of cheap and nasty, the Dacia Duster holds that title.
Toyota are not regarded for their avantgarde interior designs, but at least they have made an effort here, there are little touches of design flair, some of it limited to flashes of silver trim and sweeping curves. Up front the interior is spacious for a compact designated car, the seating position is good and rear passenger space is a little bit tight for all but the tallest individuals.
The most important factor of any estate is the boot space, the Auris Touring Sports has 530 litre’s which is extendable up to 1,658 litre’s with the rear passenger seats folded flat. The Hybrid Excel model is at the top end of Auris ownership, standard kitis good the key features being 17″ alloy wheels, part leather seats, 6.1″ touch screen/sat-nav, front and rear LED lights, decent sounding speakers, DAB Radio and Bluetooth functionality. Options included for the model tested were SAT/Nav £650 and pearlescent paint at £650.
Driver assist technologies such as adaptive cruise control and Auto Park Assist are also great additions. Park Assist is a software engineered system that has the uncanny ability to reverse and parallel park without any interaction required from the driver apart from activating and deactivating the system.
“Toyota are not regarded for their avantgarde interior designs, but at least they have made an effort here, there are little touches of design flair, some of it limited to flashes of silver trim and sweeping curves.”
Power is mustered from a 1.8 litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine which is mated to a CVT transmission, the electric motor pumps out 80bhp giving a combined system power of 134bhp. Straightline performance isn’t scintillating, the CVT requires maximum revs to unleash burst’s of speed and revving hard is an mpg killer for those who prize low fuel consumption. Driving modes really don’t add too much of a difference, although you will experience an increase in revs and therefore throttle response, about 100rpm difference for each of the three modes Eco, Comfort and Sport.
Certainly Sport mode adds a bit of spice which is ideal for accelerating out of junctions and its best mode to be. Still when driven in a mild mannered tone 48mpg on a combined run is incredibly respectable for a petrol engine hybrid car and not too far off diesel mpg territory. The hybrid system is always interacting with the petrol engine either by boosting performance when accelerating on a motorway or when driving in a town/city environment driving. Although the electric drive range is limited to 1.5 miles the power is efficiently recharged when braking or coasting.
The Auris Touring Sports is an OK drive, McPherson struts up front and a double wishbone setup for the rear suspension does a reasonable job of hauling its passengers from destination to destination without any spectacular fuss. The steering is a little too sharp on turn in which makes the front pitch side ways quicker than the chassis would like. Its by no means unstable but certainly not naturally sporting in part because the electric power steering feels a little over-calibrated. Therefore the handling is compromised and the ride feels is a little on the firm side especially over slow bumps. But will most people dwell on these facts? I think not. The Auris Touring Sports is the only hybrid offered in the c-segment sector, where as a rival like the Skoda Octavia, for all its standard bearing charisma, does not offer one. And that’s as small advantage for the Auris to have.