Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid & 1.6 - First Drive Review

Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid main

Peruse the brochure for Toyota's latest addition to the Auris range - the Touring Sports, or "estate", as extended versions of popular vehicles are more commonly known - and you might come away with the feeling the range is a little under-nourished.

1.3 and 1.6 petrol engines and a 1.4-litre diesel don't promise much performance. When the powerhouse of the range is the 1.8-litre hybrid, bursting at the seams with 134 quietly cantering horses, you expect this to be a car for gentle, sedate driving.

Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid rear angle

Sadly, that's impossible with the 1.6 petrol. With barely 130 horsepower to drag along its 1,400 kilo kerb weight, even modest pace requires plenty of effort to maintain.

Pick a gear. Now subtract one, and that's probably the gear you'll actually need for any given situation. The 1.6-litre Valvematic spins sweetly, is reasonably quiet and even sounds okay, but you need to work it far too hard to make adequate progress. That's with only two people on board, so we dread to think what things might be like when loaded. You know - the job estate cars are designed for.

Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid interior

Thankfully, a diesel option is available. The meagre 90 horsepower it produces doesn't sound like much, but as with all diesels it develops its greater torque output lower down the rev range, so drivers needn't work as hard. Unfortunately, Toyota didn't have one available to drive on the launch.

They did have a hybrid though, the model you see pictured here. It's our pick of the two more powerful options by quite a distance.

Firstly, despite its clean'n'green billing, it feels the more eager on the road of the two models we drove.

Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid gear selector

That's partly down to its smooth epicyclic transmission, which blends petrol and electric power and reacts like a traditional continuously variable transmission (CVT). CVTs aren't to all tastes, but this is one of the better efforts we've tried - Toyota has really cut down on noise. With no gears to change, a hard press of the right pedal has it gathering speed with greater conviction than the manual 1.6.

Secondly, in our hands and those of our less economy-minded co-driver, it returned an indicated 60 mpg on our drive. Naturally, that figure will fall when loaded with people and things - and performance will drop too - but on the same roads, we preferred hybrid to regular petrol.

Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid rear cabin

There's plenty more good news, too. The Touring Sports looks better than the hatchback. Boot space is par for the class (up to 1,658 litres with the seats folded), as is interior volume.

Comfort in either model is spot-on and the white leather seats in the Excel-spec Hybrid were even better - though we'd reserve judgement on how easy they are to keep clean during the rigours of family use.

Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid boot

While the dashboard design is nothing special and the materials only average in the touchy-feely stakes, everything is impeccably screwed-together in that typical Toyota fashion. The controls are all predictable and smooth, and while you'll not find any joy in cornering, it does at least stick to the road with reasonable conviction and smother bumps to an acceptable degree.

Priced from: 15,795 - 23,245
Combined MPG: 45.6 - 67.3
CO2: 92 - 143 g/km

Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid headlight


We came away thoroughly confused with the Auris Touring Sports 1.6. Why would Toyota's usually brilliant engineers would put such an unsuitable engine in a vehicle designed to carry greater loads than the average hatchback?

We can't recommend the Touring Sports in 1.6 format for that reason - nor, presuming the 1.3 is even more turgid, the lowest-power variant.

Toyota Auris Touring Sports Hybrid badge

The Hybrid is much better, though you do pay extra for the privilege - 21,095 in Icon trim, and 23,245 for the highly-specced Excel model we tested. At that money though, it's a compelling alternative to Toyota's own Prius - better to look at, more practical and a dash better to drive, too.

Whether it'll tempt you away from some of the talented diesel competition though - well, that's up to you...

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