It would be so easy to see the second-generation Toyota Auris as an automotive cucumber – it’s what some would describe as an inoffensive and ‘healthy’ option without the frills of other compact cars. At cinch, we say don’t underestimate a car that gives you the security that every journey will pass just fine.
The Toyota Auris perhaps doesn’t have the sort of appearance to tingle the spine or set the heart all aflutter. In fact, it looks exactly the way you’d expect of a car designed to be efficiently unobtrusive.
The very front of the vehicle looks aerodynamically sculpted, with a protruding bumper and a pair of angled, narrow headlights joined by a chrome stripe, in the middle of which sits the Toyota emblem.
The lower half of the bumper contains various vents and the front fog lights.
The car has a waistline that rises towards the back, while the doors are large and offer easy access.
At the rear, the sloping tailgate has quite a narrow rear window. All Auris models feature alloy wheels, with the entry-level model getting smaller items that actually help the overall ride quality. The bigger alloys look better, however the chrome trim is fairly minimal and is confined to the front grille and foglight surrounds.
In fact, it looks exactly the way you’d expect of a car designed to be efficiently unobtrusive.
What’s it like to drive?
The best engines to choose on a Auris are either the 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol or the 1.8-litre hybrid. A rather noisy and slow 1.4-litre diesel was available earlier in the car’s life.
The smaller petrol is an absolute peach of an engine, proving really strong, quick to rev and with an addictive noise.
Predictably, the hybrid is the more efficient option, particularly if you live in town. It’s brisk off the mark and quite keen to use electric power whenever it can. It’s also quiet in town, although putting your foot down causes the engine to roar a bit.
All Aurises have light, accurate steering that make it easy to drive in town and simple to park. It’s also comfortable. If you’re looking for any kind of driving entertainment, move along, there’s nothing to see here.
The smaller petrol is an absolute peach of an engine.
In a complete contrast to the exterior, the inside of the Toyota Auris is quite the riot of shapes, colours and textures. The first thing you notice is that the dashboard plays host to circular and rectangular vents, which grabs the attention.
Ahead of the driver sits a completely normal instrument binnacle that contains circular dials with a small digital display between them. The steering wheel is also fairly normal, with comfortable cut-outs for your thumbs. There’s also a lever to operate the cruise control on the back edge of the wheel.
To the left of the steering wheel sits a large touchscreen in later models (apart from entry-level Active), which is at just the right height to make it easy to use. This infotainment system controls the various audio functions, including the DAB radio and telephone, as well as the sat-nav (where fitted).
Below this screen are the controls for the climate system, which look a little like they’ve been lifted from a 1980s hi-fi. They work well enough, although changing the temperature requires you to repeatedly press the button.
Everything feels really nicely put together from materials that are a cut above, from the soft-touch dashboard top to the piano-black fascia and the leather trim with contrast stitching. You genuinely feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.
Up front, there’s decent-enough room for a couple of tall(ish) adults to stretch out in reasonable comfort. The Auris isn’t class-leading in this respect - it certainly isn’t bad, though.
Behind, there’s enough space for a couple of adults to get fairly comfortable if a little cosy. Add a third and the occupant will feel decidedly like a gooseberry. Still, the flat floor means they won’t have to straddle a central tunnel, which helps with comfort on longer journeys.
Boot space isn’t huge, and is slightly smaller in the hybrid version because of the presence of batteries beneath the floor. There’s enough room for a couple of large suitcases. The fact that every version features a height-adjustable boot floor is a bonus that helps to make the load area easier to use.
The interior also features decent-sized door pockets and a range of cubbies to put everyday items.
Running costs and reliability
The 1.2-litre turbocharged engine is not only a properly sweet companion, it’s also fabulously thrifty, with an official average fuel economy figure of around 58.9mpg. That said, the hybrid is better still, because it can manage an official average of 70.6mpg, and it will get close to that in real life.
Insurance costs are extremely cheap for such a medium-sized family hatch, because the entry-level Auris kicks off in group six, rising to a high of group 14. Toyota has a reputation for building reliable cars, and so it has with the Auris, which regularly finishes near the top of reliability surveys around the world.
What we love
The Toyota Auris is not the sort of car to excite or enthral. Nevertheless. It’s perfect if you simply want a vehicle that will start every time you need it to, carry you around with the minimum of fuss, and keep you cosseted from the rigours of the day while doing so. It’s undoubtedly perfectly aimed at folk who view driving as something they have todo, not something they want to do.
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There are few better all-rounders than the Toyota Auris, and even fewer cars that will be more dependable. Add in an interior that feels very nicely put together indeed, and which is genuinely pleasant to sit in, plus exceptionally low running costs, and the Auris makes a strong case for itself.
This review was