Toyota Auris Review
The Toyota Auris – it’s a family hatchback fighting in a crowded marketplace. With stiff competition from established rivals including the Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra, it might not be obvious why you’d choose this Derby-born challenger.
What's not so good
Toyota Auris: what would you like to read next?
Inside the Toyota Auris, there’s a decent amount of space for passengers and their luggage – although a Honda Civic will still be more useful in day-to-day ownership. Everything feels robust and the layout is fairly straightforward but, like the outside, there’s little to excite anyone.
Its lack of excitement isn’t a problem on the road where light controls make driving the Toyota Auris easy. Budding touring car racers need not apply – although, they’re probably not reading this review in the first place. The Toyota Auris claws back some kudos under the bonnet where its optional hybrid powertrain gives it a modest electric range that’s great for city driving.
What will sell the Toyota Auris to potential buyers is its reputation for reliability. Yes – almost all modern cars are immeasurably more reliable than those of just a few years ago but, for some, the reassurance they’re buying this sturdy Toyota is the ultimate peace of mind. This performance is backed up by its category win in the 2016 JD Power reliability survey.
Equipment is fairly generous across the range provided you avoid the sparse entry-level Access model. All mid-range trims are well-equipped and can be fitted with sat-nav for an additional £750 and leather for a further £950. Prices for trim levels and options are generally competitive with the rivalling Ford Focus.
The Toyota Auris won't excite but has plenty of family car credentials that compensate
In the face of stiff competition, the Toyota Auris isn’t quite up to the challenge of its best rivals. The Volkswagen Golf is a more convincing all-rounder – especially if you’re after a model with an automatic gearbox – and the Honda Civic is a more sensible, spacious family car. Equally, with a driving experience that’s neither the most comfortable nor the most exciting, its identity feels a little unsure.
It becomes much clearer when you look at the hybrid model, however. While that model still suffers the same drawbacks as the conventional version, its electric range means it works especially well in stop/start traffic. As a result, drivers in the city could potentially complete their commute using barely any fuel at all.
To see what sort of offers are available, visit our Toyota Auris deals page.
The Toyota Auris does a great job, if all you want to do is carry people and stash stuff in the cabin, but if you want good boot space, one of the alternatives will probably suit you better
Overall, the boot space in the Auris is nothing special, but it's impressive that there's as much room in the hybrid as in the more conventional models
Passenger space isn’t class-leading but it’s among the largest in the segment. Those up front get plenty of head and legroom, and good front and side visibility gives the cabin a light, airy feeling. Even with tall passengers up front, there’s still plenty of room in the back for adults with only the largest rivals such as the Honda Civic offering better rear occupant accommodation.
There are no complaints to be had with storage areas in the Toyota Auris. There’s also nothing clever or impressive either, but rest assure there’s enough space for water bottles, phones, wallets and other small items.
Where it offers good passenger space, the Toyota Auris can only muster mediocre boot space. The 360-litre space is large enough for the weekly shop, but the family holiday might force you to pick which of your children you like the most.
Toyota Auris Hybrid buyers can relax in the knowledge that the batteries are stuffed under the rear seats so they won’t lose any boot space over their conventionally powered siblings.
Most potential buyers will care only that their car is comfortable and easy to drive and, in this respect, the Toyota Auris delivers the goods.
No question the Auris is a boring car to drive, but that'll suit some people
A handful of engines are offered in the Toyota Auris but it’s the Hybrid model that will probably be of most interest to potential owners.
There are two petrol Auris options. The first is the oddly specific 1.33-litre four-cylinder non-turbo unit fitted exclusively to entry-level Active models. It has a reasonable 99hp but, as a result of the non-turbo setup, it feels very sluggish on the road. We’d also advise you avoid entry-level Active trim altogether so, unless you’re really swayed by the low purchase price, there’s no reason to recommend this engine.
The smaller 1.2-litre four-cylinder actually makes more power and much more torque thanks to its turbocharger. While its 116hp might not sound much better than the 1.33-litre unit’s, the significant increase in torque is what you’ll feel everyday. It might be a £3,000 jump over the less powerful petrol but, considering that model comes in mid-range Icon trim, it represents much better value for money.
This version is what most Toyota Auris buyers will be interested in and, provided their needs suit the kind of driving the hybrid is optimised for, it works pretty well. Unlike rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf GTE and Audi A3 e-tron, the Toyota Auris Hybrid is a conventional hybrid in the sense its batteries are only charged by the engine or when braking – you can’t plug it into a wallbox in your garage to top up the batteries for your next journey. While this means its electric range is down on those rivals, its purchase price is also lower.
Like almost all hybrids, it does its best work in the stop/start traffic of most city centres where conventional engines are traditionally quite inefficient. Here, the electric motor can move the car at low speeds without ever using the conventional engine. The usual problems with hybrids present themselves here, too – limited electric range and, due to the CVT automatic gearbox, excessive engine noise under hard acceleration and sluggish performance above town speeds. Nevertheless, if you spend most of your time in the city centre, this might be the best choice.
The steering is light and moderately accurate with only the slightest sense of vagueness when held straight – this means it’s easy around town but long motorway jaunts can see you making constant small corrections that can become tiring.
While steering the Toyota Auris is nothing special, the gearshift on manual models is pleasingly direct with each gear slotting into place faithfully with no sense of notchiness or springiness. This is contrasted by the CVT automatic gearbox that only suits the most relaxed of driving styles – ask anything more of it and it responds with a huge racket from under the bonnet but no real acceleration to speak of. It’s a necessary evil should you opt for the Hybrid model.
On road manners are agreeable, although a Peugeot 308 does a better job of being comfortable while a Volkswagen Golf is even easier to drive. Rough roads send some vibrations into the cabin but big bumps are dispatched with ease so, on the whole, comfort is relatively good. Refinement is strong provided you go for a manual model – the aforementioned CVT automatic is very noisy in anything other than gentle driving.
In the spirit of starting as you mean to go on, the Toyota Auris’ interior is perfectly adequate if a little uninteresting.