Toyota Auris 1.6 Valvematic - First Drive

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Toyota has produced another car that does the job dependably

Engine: 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual
Power: 130 bhp at 6,400 rpm
Torque: 160 Nm at 4,400 rpm
Fuel consumption (combined cycle): 58.9 mpg*
CO2 emissions: 138 g/km*
Top speed: 124 mph
Acceleration (0-62 mph): 10.0 seconds
Price: From £17,495 (Icon trim), Auris prices from £14,495
*cars with 16-inch wheels

Just how good is the new Toyota Auris? More than most cars, that depends on what you want from it and what you compare it with.

The case in favour goes something like this. In platform terms, the new car is a heavy evolution of the old, and the differences are seen most clearly in the hybrid version where Toyota has done a great job of improving the packaging of the electric parts of the drivetrain, in particular slipping the battery under the rear seat so that it no longer eats into the boot space. And then there are the usual incremental improvements that show the attention to detail the Japanese manufacturers are so good at – a roofline lowered very slightly to give a more sporty look here, a little more interior space carved out there, and so on. This steady sort of progress has served them well; Toyota may have been in the headlines with fault-related recalls in the last few years, but I’d still stick my neck out and bet that its cars will give most people less trouble than the majority of rival products.

Personally, I think the Auris is also a handsome car. It’s difficult to make a five-door Golf-sized hatchback really stand out from the crowd and I’m not sure Toyota has quite managed to achieve that. But the Auris is an appealingly subtle design, making good use of the unusually crisp origami-style creases that are a trademark of the company’s latest cars. The rear, in particular is distinctive and attractive, although the nose, which pioneers a new Toyota “face” is a tad anonymous. Inside, the Auris is slightly dark and drab, but pleasant enough. Everything works well – and unobtrusively too.

On the road, in normal driving, the Auris makes a good case for itself. What car industry types call NVH – or noise vibration and harshness – has been tuned out very well and the controls are all light and smooth. The 1.6-litre normally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine fitted to our test car was more refined, and showed a bit more pep, than the similarly-sized non-turbo petrol fours fitted to, say, the Kia cee’d or Hyundai i30.

But this is where the “it depends what you compare it with” qualification comes in. The Auris’ 1.6-litre petrol engine may compare favourably with rival normally-aspirated engines of similar size but most European competitors have moved on, replacing their engines of this type with smaller turbocharged petrols that deliver better power and economy, a trend that seems to have caught the Japanese and Korean manufacturers, who were also slow to get into diesels, napping. Volkswagen’s now-established smooth and zippy 1.2 and 1.4 TSI engines showed the way, and Ford’s characterful, sporty three-cylinder 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine, which first appeared in the Focus earlier this year, goes one better still.

And where the Auris uses a development of the platform of the previous car, the trend-setter in this class, the latest VW Golf, uses a radical all-new modular architecture that will be rolled out across all small and medium-sized Volkswagen models over the next few years. Dramatic weight loss and far more agile handling are the wins associated with the new approach, if the latest Golf and the new Seat Leon and the Audi A3, the other cars that share it, are anything to go by. Those aren’t just incremental gains of the sort you’ll see over at Toyota – they add up a step change, and quite a big one at that.

So if you want a car that just does the job dependably, the new Auris is, in its way, brilliant. If I owned one, I’d be perfectly happy with it most of the time. But every now and then, I’d wish I’d bought a Golf or a Leon instead.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

    Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

    Day In a Page

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test