£16,390 - £27,090 Price range
51 - 80 MPG
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.
Inside, 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 Auris easy. Budding touring car racers need not apply – although, they’re probably not reading this review in the first place. The 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 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.
In the spirit of starting as you mean to go on, the Auris’ interior is perfectly adequate if a little uninteresting. The dash is dominated by a flat panel of piano black plastic that houses the infotainment screen and a clock readout that would look dated on an early ‘80s digital watch. Climate controls are, mercifully, physical buttons that are easy to use on the move.
Material quality is reasonably good but, again, doesn’t stand out. A Mazda 3 features similar feeling plastics on the centre console and dash but we heard very occasional squeaks and rattles in our test car’s cabin that wouldn’t be found on Mazda and Honda rivals. The dials are clear and easy to read but the screen nestled between them features some rather dated looking graphics.
Toyota Auris passenger space
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.
Toyota Auris boot space
Where it offers good passenger space, the 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.
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 Auris delivers the goods. 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 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.
A handful of engines are offered in the Auris but it’s the Hybrid model that will probably be of most interest to potential owners. Check out our comparison of petrol, diesel and hybrid Auris models. We look at the relative costs of each and work out whether the more efficient, costlier models or the cheaper, less efficient models represent better value for money overall.
Toyota Auris petrol engines
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.
Toyota Auris diesel engines
If you’re a very high mileage driver or plan to tow things, the Auris’ diesel engines might be a better choice. The smaller 1.4-litre unit is only offered in company-car friendly Business Edition but, with 90hp and a generous slug of torque, it’s just about powerful enough for day-to-day driving. It averages 81mpg helping keep fuel costs nice and low.
The more powerful 1.6-litre diesel is actually offered across more trim levels than the 1.4 so can be had for a little less money if you go for an Icon model. This version can musters a merely decent 66mpg but, thanks to its greater 112hp output, will be much easier to live with day-to-day. This model is £1,200 more expensive than the 1.2-litre petrol, however, and isn’t much more efficient so only the highest of mileage drivers will see any financial benefit in choosing the diesel.
Toyota Auris hybrid engines
This version is what most 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 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.
With a mere 90bhp at a fairly loft 3,800rpm to play with, the 1.4 diesel-powered Auris is comfortably the slowest in the range so far – 0-60mph in 12.5 seconds and 112mph aren’t exactly numbers you’d want to write home about. Then again, the oil burning Auris was never designed to be a performance car, and, as a reliable everyday runabout, it seems to fare much better.
Thanks to the sound insulation, the unit’s reported to be quite a hushed one, so there shouldn’t be any issues of droning engine noise on longer journeys. Also, if you ignore the overambitious quoted figures for the Auris Hybrid, the diesel should also be the cheapest to run – low CO2 emissions mean you only pay £20 in road tax, whilst economically-minded driving should see you close in on the claimed 72mpg economy rating.
All in all, if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of speed for some extra savings at the fuel pumps, then the 1.4 diesel engine is one we can commend highly. However, given the 1.33 and 1.6 petrols are noticeably cheaper, we also reckon they’re worth mulling over if your mileage starts to negate the benefits of diesel power.
Toyota’s focused a fair bit of its attention on cancelling out intrusive noises that enter the cabin and, whilst the engine does make itself heard should you need to work it hard, it shows: the 1.6 petrol is quite a hushed and refined unit. The fact it’s the only model in the range bar the Hybrid that comes with an automatic gearbox is another plus-point, if you’d prefer or need the car to come with such a transmission.
The running costs also aren’t to be sniffed at either, with Toyota claiming 47mpg on the combined cycle is possible. However, it is worth pointing out other similarly sized engines in other rivals (and especially the smaller, turbocharged units) are not only more efficient, but their outputs often trump the Auris 1.6’s 130bhp.
Put simply, whilst the 1.6 Auris does have some positive quirks to call upon, it loses out to the class leaders when it comes to power outputs and fuel economy. Unless the Auris’ cheaper asking price is enough to win you over, we reckon the car’s main rivals are also worth considering.
Though “official” economy figures for hybrid vehicles do need to be taken with a pinch of salt – we doubt many owners will ever return the 74mpg that Toyota claims is possible – it does at least pay off in other aspects for the consumer. As the car “only” emits 87g/km of CO2, it comfortably means you’d be exempt from any road tax if you bought an Auris Hybrid.
Toyota’s also been pretty clever when it comes to packaging all the batteries – in the old car, they were stored under the boot, so the car’s luggage capacity was noticeably reduced. This time, though, they’re located under the rear seats, so the Hybrid has the same 360 litre boot space as the other Auris models.
However, nothing is ever perfect, and there are a few flaws with the Auris Hybrid. Not only is it the most expensive Auris currently on sale by a comfortable margin, but almost all of the critics reckon the CVT automatic is quite noisy, especially if you accelerate under full throttle. Which is a shame, given the Auris is otherwise generally perceived to be a pretty refined car.
Whilst the Auris Hybrid does have its appeal in places, the price and the gearbox problem does hamper our ability to recommend the car somewhat. If you feel like you can live with the shortfalls that come with Auris Hybrid ownership, by all means take one for a test drive, but we also reckon other rivals – as well as other Auris variants – are worthy of your attention as well.
All the usual passive safety tech is present and correct on the Auris. You get a full complement of airbags, isofix child seat mounting points, traction and stability control to keep you pointing the right way.
All models are sold with the option of Toyota’s Safety Shield – abbreviated to TSS – which adds a range of active safety equipment. It includes automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, automatically dipping headlights and traffic sign recognition. Considering the pack adds a mere £450 to the price, we think this is well worth adding to your car – it only needs to work once to pay for itself.
The Auris is offered in five different trims with the mid-range options providing the best value for money. Entry-level Active models are only offered with the 1.33-litre petrol engine while the rest of the range features a choice of engines. Our favourite version is the lower-mid Icon trim level with the £750 sat nav added on.
Toyota Auris Active
This model is fairly spartan so we’d avoid unless other trims are beyond your budget. It gets 15-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights, USB input, air conditioning and Bluetooth preparation.
Toyota Auris Icon
Icon represents much better value than Active and includes larger 16-inch alloys, front fog lights, an infotainment system with DAB digital radio and a reversing camera. You can add navigation onto this system for a further £750.
Toyota Auris Business Edition
The Business Edition is aimed at company car buyers so includes cruise control, the aforementioned infotainment system with sat nav, DAB digital radio and a rear-view camera.
Toyota Auris Design
Design features 17-inch alloy wheels and tinted rear windows along with the equipment already equipped on the Business Edition.
Toyota Auris Excel
As the name implies, Excel is the top-spec trim for the Auris. This version brings all-round parking sensors, self-parking, push-button start, the infotainment system with sat-nav and DAB digital radio, and dual-zone climate control.
In the face of stiff competition, the 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.