Video: Toyota's upgraded Auris is a bit of Aur-ight
Toyota Auris 1.2 D-4T Sol
The Toyota Auris was never a car to get the hairs on the back of your neck standing.
It was a car that didn’t have the same draw as the Corolla or Avensis, and in many eyes, including Motormouths’, was quite bland.
It was a car that was designed in Asia to ‘fit in’ to a segment with big names like the VW Golf and Ford Focus.
It was extremely hard to recommend the old model over such illustrious company.
Thankfully, Toyota let the European designers take the lead in the design of the new model, and they have really stepped up to the plate.
It might not be able to brush aside the class leaders, but it certainly has improved enough to be considered a viable alternative.
The outgoing model was a car that did exactly what it said on the tin, but it was never desirable or sporty.
This new version has been given a sporty edge with much sharper lines to really propel it into the upper echelons of the compact family car market.
When you put the out and new side by side, you’ll see the vast improvement on style alone.
A new pronounced front-end, which all Toyotas will inherit, new lights front and rear and upper and lower grilles, along with the sleeker exterior, gives the latest Auris a much more appealing look.
The changes have also been carried over in the cabin, with a new, much more European modern feel to the dash, which includes a seven-inch Touch 2 infotainment system, that looks great and is easy to use, making it one of the best on the market.
Gone are the tacky buttons that were found in the parts bin at Toyota to be replaced by much more modern interior that give the Auris a premium feel.
The materials used do feel high-end but we’d like to see the digital clock being, that looks like it’s been taken from an old Casio watch, dumped to be replaced by something more a little more modern.
The cabin is comfortable with a very usable boot that’s big enough for a small family.
All passengers get plenty of head and leg room, and the seats themselves provide excellent support and comfort for short or long runs.
Choosing the top-of-the-range Sol model gives the Auris a much more dynamic look, with gorgeous 17-inch alloys.
The most impressive part of the new Auris is the refinement.
The sound-proofing has been upgraded and the cabin is whisper quiet.
We tested the new 1.2 turbo petrol with 116bhp and at times, you think it’s the hybrid model you are in.
It’s smooth and responsive with plenty of power for such a little unit.
The six-speed manual works really well with the new petrol engine and acceleration through the gears was impressive.
The Auris will never be as engaging to drive as the Golf or Focus, aimed more at families who like comfort and build quality – but this new Auris was actually quite competent in the corners, with revised electric power steering giving better feedback than before.
The suspension is more comfortable than sporty but it handled an enthusiastic drive on the back roads with ease, and there was little or no body roll.
The current furore over diesel cars makes engines like this new 1.2 turbo from Toyota a really good option.
The petrol technology has improved massively in recent years and small petrols can now deliver performance and economy that match big oil burners.
We found the 1.2 to be a peppy engine with plenty of poke. It has 116bhp, which isn’t to be laughed at, but you get 185Nm of torque from just 1,500rpm, giving it plenty of low-down grunt.
If anything, we would argue that the new 1.2 turbo is suited better to smaller journeys, as the 5.4-litres per 100kms is nearly impossible to achieve.
We tested it over a number of various routes, including long motorway jaunts, and we were lucky to break seven l/100kms.
A tank of fuel will stretch to a little over the 600kms, but with a lighter right foot and not so many long journeys could see that figure rise to a more respectable 700kms.
Toyota has really delivered with this new Auris. It’s priced competitively, starting at €20,750, but our test car at €24,500 could be the pick of the bunch.
There are four trim levels and four engines to choose from. If you’re looking at joining the green brigade, then a hybrid option is also available from just €24,990.
The new Auris is a really competitive package. It’s supremely refined and much better to drive than before.
Choosing the right trim and engine will deliver a very impressive motor. If you want a change from the usual suspects, then the new Auris is certainly worth taking a closer look at, it certainly gets our vote for the most improved car this year.
Paul Keown & Robbie Farrell