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Auris swops old dreary for new funk


ONE OF my very first write-ups as a young motoring hack was a road test on a model in the revamped Toyota Auris X range.

Back then I was less than kind in my review. The Auris was just too boring and lacked a so-called personality that makes a really good car great.

I’ve since learned that not all people are car people like me. A large portion of the population are merely looking for something with four wheels that will take them from points A to B. The previous Auris may have lacked panache, but it was a comfortable and reliable means of transport for the masses. Looking back now, I completely understand why Toyota sold so many of them.

As a lover of all things automotive, I could, however, never see myself owning one. It was just too boring - harsh, but true.

Surprising new look

The first images of the all-new Auris concept blew me away. I was expecting a few minor changes to the body. After all, you don’t add too much to a recipe that works. Luckily Toyota ignored tradition and built something that not only looks good, but that could be ordered with a funky orange hue as well.

Better overall experience

The good news is that it does the mundane stuff even better than the previous Auris. It’s comfortable, easy to use and it feels like it will outlast every living thing on this planet. It also has the backing of the largest dealer network in South Africa. In every town in this country, you’ll always find an NG Kerk, liquor store and a Toyota dealership.

A lot of work has gone into making the interior look as good as the exterior. The 1.6 XR model we had featured full leather interior, automatic climate control, cruise control, front-seat heaters, auto lights and smart entry system. These niceties are included over and above the mid-grade Auris, which already features display audio, back monitor with reverse camera, six-speaker sound system and Bluetooth.

Safety first

The new Auris scores top marks on the safety front as well. Euro NCAP awarded it a full five stars and all models across the range are fitted with driver, front-passenger and side airbags. The XR specification adds curtain shield airbags as well as one for the driver’s knee.

Performance and consumption

When it comes to engines, the Auris falls slightly behind its main competitors. It’s available with either a 1.3- or 1.6-litre petrol engine, the latter of which we drove. Toyota claims a power output of 97kW and 160Nm of torque, meaning that progress isn’t slow by any means, but in certain situations it felt a bit sluggish. As I was driving a Mercedes CLS the week before, I’ll give the Auris the benefit of the doubt.

In six-speed manual guise Toyota claims an average fuel consumption of 6.2 litres/100km and Co2 emissions of 145g/km. I averaged around 7.4 litres/100km, which really isn’t bad for a hatch with enough space for a family of four.

Aggressive pricing

What surprised me most about the Auris is the attractive pricing. Over the last few years the Korean manufacturers have been clawing away at Toyota’s traditional customer base, simply because their products offered better value for money.

The new Auris offers a lot of comfort, luxury and space for R254 500. That massive gap in pricing between it and its Korean competition is now smaller than ever and while the prowess of companies like Hyundai and Kia simply can’t be ignored, the Toyota has that sought-after badge that’s as much part of South African culture as a braai on a Saturday afternoon.

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