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Toyota Auris

Motoring Review

Updated Auris - a more complete car

THE Toyota Auris will always hold fond memories for me. It was my first car launch and I remember thinking how the brand has improved on its quality and design in comparison to the Toyota Corollas, Tazz models and Camry models that I had grown up with. Now though, a few years down the line, the Auris has been updated. I spent a week with the car to see whether the changes have made the Auris a true Golf rival.

Explaining the sales

The Auris is a sales lightweight within the Toyota stable, notching up around 160 sales per month when compared to the Corolla, Hilux and Etios, that’s a low number. However, underneath the hatch body, is a Corolla. So why don’t people flock to buy the Auris? I think it looks quite good; it’s certainly unique and the front and rear-end have been re-worked with new lights, bumpers and upper/lower grilles, too. The car is also well made. Toyota claims to have improved the build quality, while inside there are new items such as an infotainment screen and reshaped dashboard, which lifts the feel of the interior.

What’s it like?

It is also quite a nice thing to drive; it is refined, comfortable and has enough space to seat four adults comfortably. You also get the impression that the car will go forever with its simple mechanicals, and because it wears that badge. So why then does it continue to be out-sold by both the Volkswagen Golf and Audi’s A3, which are considerably more expensive than most of the Auris range?

So... why?

For me it has to come down to the powertrain options in the Auris range. I drove the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol model with a manual transmission. It has 97kW/160Nm to offer and that is simply not enough, especially up here at altitude, the car feels sluggish. It was fairly efficient though, returning around 8.2 litres/100km versus the claimed figure of 6.2 litres/100km.

Customers buying a Corolla, enjoy the simplicity of a manual gearbox and a tried-and-tested naturally aspirated motor. However, when it comes to hatchbacks, the target market changes; these buyers want downsized, efficient turbocharged motors and slick automatic transmissions. We’ve seen the uptake of turbo petrol motors coupled with automatic gearboxes as over 90 percent with the Golf range for example, this is what the market wants.

Verdict

The Auris is a good car overall. It is so similar to the Corolla yet feels like a more premium product. The problem is, in terms of its powertrains options, its rivals simply have what the market demands at the moment. Perhaps it’s time for Toyota to put that 1.4-litre diesel motor from the Corolla into the Auris and produce a good dual-clutch transmission.

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