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Toyota updates the Auris

08.06.2015

THE Auris is Toyota’s flagship hatchback model and it is tasked with a bit of a tough mission, to rival the mighty Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. Toyota has had success with the Auris in previous years and they’ve now just introduced the updated Auris. Have the subtle styling enhancements given this car an upper hand within the segment? Let’s find out…

What is the Auris?

The Auris is Toyota’s answer to the European hatchbacks, such as the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Opel Astra. The Auris does have its work cut out for it because it forms part of a tough, competitive segment, which is under pressure, not only from competing models but from the crossover SUV market as well. It is for that reason that the Auris needs to be more than just a hatchback; It needs to be a car that appeals to a wide variety of customers, from the young, up-and-coming to the older, more conservative of buyers.

Updated looks front and rear

The Auris hasn’t been given the full Bruce Jenner makeover but Toyota has done just enough to keep it looking good. Starting at the front, its designers have given the Auris a new front fascia, which now incorporates a pair of chrome ‘wings’ emerging from a new, more prominent Toyota emblem set in a thinner upper grille. The ‘wing’ design now underscores the front lip of the bonnet, running the full width of the car and it encapsulates the crisply angled inside edge of the sharp-eyed headlight clusters.

The lower grille has been set beneath a more prominent front bumper design, which now runs the full width of the car. It has a narrow centre section, framed by a chrome accent strip, which widens into deep pods, housing integrated fog lights - on selected models only, though.

At the rear, the Auris features a slightly revised bumper change. The lower half of the car has been redesigned to add visual emphasis to the vehicle’s broad stance. To enhance the visual appeal, the rear bumper design is amplified by the relocation of the reflector housings at the furthest edges and by a thin chrome trim line. The rear lamp clusters have also been redesigned, giving the Auris its own distinctive lighting signature.

Toyota is also offering the Auris with two new colour options, over and above the standard colours. These include citrus metallic and blue metallic, which are sure to stand out on the road and they definitely play to the Auris’ young-at-heart character.

Fancy-pants interior

Inside, is a new and redesigned dashboard layout; Toyota has used quality, soft-touch materials. Remember, the Auris is Toyota’s flagship model, so, expect it to be top-notch. A headline feature has to be the new central, tablet-inspired audio visual display panel, which comes standard on all models from the X’s grade upward. The system featuring touch-sensitive switchgear - a first in terms of technology advancement for Toyota. The touch screen panel offers CD/DVD, radio and Bluetooth/AUX/USB functionality, as well as a host of other on-board functions including a reverse camera with guide lines. I would have preferred the volume control to be operated by a dial rather than by sliding your finger over the side of the screen. Luckily though there are multifunction controls on the steering wheel.

Hidden behind a little compartment found at the lower end of the dashboard, just in front of the gear lever, you’ll find the heated seat buttons as well as the USB ports; I found this to be very Batman-like.

What about engines and model variants?

Despite its sporty looks, Toyota has chosen not to fit the car with a turbo like so many of its main rivals have done. The Auris features the same, three-engine line up as before. A 1.3-litre petrol unit producing 73kW and 128Nm of torque fills the entry level slot, a 1.6-litre petrol unit producing 97kW and 160Nm of torque occupies the middle slot and the 1.6-litre CVT model takes top spot, well, for now, anyway. Toyota has confirmed it will introduce the 1.8-litre hybrid model later this year.

When it comes to specification levels, Toyota has carried over the same structure as before. The entry-grade specification (X and Xi) are available on 1.3 and 1.6-litre engines. The mid-grade specification (Xs) is only available on the 1.6-litre engine and the high grade specification (Xr) is available on the 1.6 manual and CVT as well as the hybrid derivative. As always, the equipment list gets longer, the higher the specification.

Final word

The Auris is a safe bet with emphasis placed on reliability for a broader audience. After spending a rushed day with the Auris, in traffic and on the highways, I found it to offer a composed ride quality, comfortable and with its solid construction, road noise is limited. The steering feedback has been tightened up slightly; the clutch is light and gear-changes are smooth. However, despite the upgrades, I doubt the Auris is going to topple the competition just yet. Buyers want forced induction and I think they’d prefer a diesel rather than a hybrid. That said though, Toyota’s been spending much of its time with BMW and Mazda of late, so let’s see what that partnership conjures up.

Pricing: 

Auris X R223 700
Auris Xi  R249 100
Auris Xs R259 800
Auris Xr  R287 700
Auris Xr CVT R301 700

The new Auris benefits from a three-year/100 000km warranty. All models come standard with a five-year/90 000km service plan. The new models are also supported by the ToyotaCare Roadside Assistance Programme, which entitles customers to 24-hour roadside assistance, ensuring ultimate peace-of-mind motoring.

 

Article written by Justin Jacobs
08.06.2015
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