- We like...Cabin space, twin glove boxes
- We don't...Gutless engine
It's the car that took over from Toyota's generation-spanning, record-breaking small car, the Corolla. But how good is it?The Auris (say ‘ow-ris’, Toyota tells us) occupied the space in the line-up that the Corolla once did. Toyota decided on a name change to break free from the Corolla’s frumpy image.
But when you think that the Corolla was among the world’s best-selling cars, that was one brave move. Happily for Toyota, the Auris is pretty good. And the one we’re testing here teams Stop-Start technology with a small, high-output petrol engine to give an interesting green-tinged alternative to the diesel you might otherwise buy if good fuel economy and low emissions are priorities.
Outside, it looks like an over-fed version of its little sister, the Toyota Yaris. But, family looks aside, this Golf-sized car is tidy but anonymous. From the outside. Climb inside, though and you can’t help but notice the big, plastic-clad bridge between the front seats, on which the gear-shift is mounted.
It’s an odd-looking piece of kit but it ds place the gear lever just a hand’s-span from the wheel rim, which is as good as it gets for driver comfort and ease of use. It also leaves a space beneath for phones, keys or other belongings. There are twin, lidded glove boxes in front of the passenger and the cabin is attractively laid out and nicely planned, although the plastics covering the dash aren’t up there with those in a Volkswagen Golf’s. In fairness, though, the Auris is cheaper.
Toyota says the car is designed from the inside-out, meaning that it decided how big the cabin should be, and worked from there. It’s certainly roomy enough for five grown-ups even if, as is true for most cars its size, it’s a squash to put three abreast in the back. The boot is ample and well-shaped, too.
The Auris we’re driving here is the 1.3 TR – so that’s the mid-level trim pack and the smallest available petrol engine. Its 100bhp is a lot for a little engine but fuel economy of up to 48.7mpg is achieved through lean tuning and the stop and start system, which turns off the engine whenever you’re halted in traffic and pop the gears to neutral and let up the clutch.
To re-start, you just press the clutch pedal and select first gear. It springs to life quickly and without fuss. At first, it’ll seem odd, especially if you’ve not driven a car with such a set-up. But it’ll quickly become second nature.
The engine lacks oomph, though, so you work its six-speed manual gearbox hard to make speedy progress. That, in turn, ups the fuel consumption – in our week with the car we struggled to get the dash readout to climb above 40mpg.
The Auris is a terrific second-hand buy, not least because of Toyota’s excellent reputation for well engineered cars that seldom give trouble. And, if your budget is modest, the Corolla is almost as good.
Make no mistake; this Toyota is likeable as a new car. And with a strong list of standard kit that includes air conditioning, alloy wheels, nine airbags and a leather-wrapped gear knob and wheel rim, it’s fair value. But while there are such talented alternatives as the Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf, the Auris can only play second fiddle.
To view new and second-hand Toyota Aurises, go to motors.co.uk
To view second-hand Toyota Corollas, go to motors.co.uk
- Engines1.3 petrol
- 0-60 mph13.1sec
- Insurance groups4E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: