£17,490 - £28,190 Price range
50 - 80 MPG
The Auris Touring Sports is the first such model offered by Toyota since the old Corolla Estate of the late 1990s, and finds itself in an even more competitive market these days.
Critics say it’s well-built, refined and spacious, but are less keen on its range of engines and on the way it handles – the Auris TS is a decent car, but some testers are left wanting for a little more…
Cheapest to buy: 1.33-litre Active petrol
Cheapest to run: 1.8-litre Active Hybrid
Fastest model: 1.6-litre Icon diesel
Most popular: 1.33-litre Active petrol
Until the Skoda Octavia Estate stole its thunder, the Auris had the biggest boot space in its class – 530 litres seats-up, and 1,658 litres with them folded. Doing so is an easy process too and leaves a nice flat load area. It’s unfortunate that while the boot is large, reviews aren’t as keen on the rear seat passenger space – it can be a little cramped for a car full of taller passengers. It features in our Top 10 Biggest Estate Car Boots.
Those in the front are better catered for, with “plenty of room” and enough adjustment in wheel and seat to find the ideal driving position – they’re supportive and comfortable too. Critics aren’t keen on the dashboard though – an upright “slabby cliff” with too many shapes, materials and textures. Testers say it falls short of the standard of rivals from Hyundai, Ford, VW and Kia. The colour touchscreen is also called “fiddly to use”.
The good news here is that the Touring Sports is impressively quiet and refined for the most part. Perhaps the best description of the car’s ambience is one reviewer’s claim that it’s almost “Lexus-esque”. Opinions on the ride quality vary – some find it “commendably supple”, others suggest it can fidget over broken tarmac and thump through potholes.
It’s not much fun to drive either. Part of that is down to the engines – more of which below – but really the Auris just isn’t a vehicle designed for thrills. The steering is too light for some testers, too inconsistent for others, and particularly in heavier hybrid models, there’s a little too much body roll. The Auris Touring Sports is a car best driven at a fairly relaxed pace.
There are four units on offer here. Two are petrol, one is diesel, and the final is a petrol-electric hybrid. A few reviews are quite complimentary about the 1.6 petrol – it’s not quick, but Toyota has done a good job with refinement and the engine is near-silent at speed.
The most oft-reviewed engine is the Hybrid. It’s a 1.8-litre unit paired with an electric motor, with 134 hp on offer. It’s the same you’ll find in the more well-known Prius, but despite several reviewers making the usual comments about excess noise under hard acceleration, it’s quieter here than in the Prius.
Japanese manufacturers rarely excel when it comes to diesel engines, and although the 1.4-Litre unit isn’t terrible, it is unlikely to be the favoured option for too many people other than the most committed diesel fanatics.
However, it's also described as "short on oomph", which is to say its 130-horsepower output isn't great at hauling along the estate body. This will also make it hard to hit the claimed 46.3 mpg figure.
The headline figures are 76.3 mpg and 85 g/km of CO2, if you opt for 'Icon' spec cars rather than the Excel models with more weight and larger, more rolling-resistant wheels and tyres. Car tax, naturally, is free as a result, and it'll cost less in BIK tax than diesel rivals too.
Of the engine itself, reviews are mixed - and it's the usual hybrid problems which crop up. The planetary "e-CVT" transmission lets the revs soar when you plant your foot, and some testers are never happy with the disconnect between revs and road speed - and the noise - this results in. It's something that would increase when loaded too, which is a consideration in an estate.
That aside, the hybrid is typically smooth, easy to drive and quiet, and should prove an economical, cheap-to-run option.
One of the major things you would expect from any Toyota is that it will be safe, and that’s definitely the case here.
Although the Touring Sport model hasn’t been individually tested by Euro NCAP, the organisation itself states that it would expect it to gain a similar five-star rating as the standard Auris.
Both passive and active safety measures abound here, including ABS, EBD, brake assist as well as stability and traction control. Safety definitely isn’t something that you need to worry about when considering an Auris Touring Sports.
Right at the bottom of the range, the Auris TS is keenly priced – under £16,000 isn’t bad at all for a car of this type. You’ll pay more to get bigger engines and Hybrid models – one of the TS’s unique selling points – start at over £21,000, by which point the car is deep in diesel competitor territory.
However, some drivers – particularly those who regularly knock around town – will find running costs lower than the average diesel, and the fuel is cheaper to boot. Other running costs are also low – the Hybrid has zero car tax and low benefit-in-kind (company car) rates. Unfortunately, London-based drivers will no longer enjoy congestion charge exemption since the 75 g/km limit came into force.
Were some of the Auris Touring Sports’ rivals not so talented, it would be easier to make a case for the well-built, refined Toyota. As it is, some rivals offer more space – like the Octavia – while others, like the Golf and Focus, are better to drive. Diesel engines may cope better with the loads estate cars are designed for too, and the Auris’s 1.4-litre unit may not be quite up to the job.
If you travel around town a lot though, the Hybrid’s economy may make the TS a bit of a dark horse. Try before you buy to see if you can get on with that transmission.
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