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.
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.
No question the Auris is a boring car to drive, but that'll suit some people
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.