Toyota Auris Active 1.2T Icon 5dr

August 2015

picture of car from the front

Subtle design changes mark out this refreshed Auris range

Ratings

Overall Rating 7Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 7Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 7Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 7Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Ample levels of cabin space
  • Oddment storage is well thought out
  • All models smooth and undemanding to drive
  • Perceived quality has risen

Gripes

  • Weak petrol engine is a disappointment
  • Keen drivers will not engage with the handling
  • Touchscreen infotainment system can prove sluggish at times
  • Some interior plastics fall below the class best

With this refreshed model, Toyota marks the mid-way point in the Auris' life span. It has been gifted a mildly tweaked exterior, a brace of improved engines and has benefited from a modest but welcome increase in both safety and comfort equipment. The firm aims to consolidate its market share and perhaps even increase it.

Toyota's 'edgy' generation of Auris hatch and compact estate have been designed to appeal to a broader market than its tradition core buyers. Radical by Toyota's standards, its bold appearance does much to enhance the car's chances of getting noticed in what has become a highly competitive marketplace.

Although the exterior changes to the Auris are subtle, design tweaks fore and aft have helped maintain the car's bold appearance. This approach hasn't reached the cabin, which remains a largely sombre environment despite detailed improvements to material quality and the introduction of a better infotainment system.

Changes under the skin are key, with most attention focused on the engines. Downsizing is the theme, in line with EU law, with the introduction of a new 1.2-litre petrol unit plus new and improved diesel options, alongside a tweaked hybrid variant. Importantly, all engines are now EU6-compliant, while there have also been some economy and emissions gains.

Staying competitive has also resulted in small but welcome changes to the car's ride quality and steering feel, while additional safety kit runs to lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition plus an auto brake function capable of slowing or stopping the car if another vehicle in front is detected.

Our verdict on the Toyota Auris Active 1.2T Icon 5dr

This generation of Auris has aged well, and the various new visual changes will help keep the car fresh. The engine changes are also welcome and much needed, while the boost to the car's kit list contains other timely improvements. Whether it's enough is questionable. Although an easy car to drive and a cheap one to own, the competition surrounding it is compelling.

Costs
Costs rating 7

The Auris range has been further improved with a greater focus on low cost of ownership. The car's new and improved engines are the obvious starting point, while kit level improvements should also boost the car 's value for money status. Residual values have never been a strong point for the Auris, being a car low on desirability, but many owners ensure value for money by keeping theirs for many years.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 7

In hatchback guise the Auris offers a reasonable amount of cabin space, and there's also a good level of rear legroom. It also boasts ample oddment storage space, while opening the tailgate reveals a decent, if not class-leading, sized boot and easy to fold rear seats. Day-to-day life with the Auris is no hard march.

picture of car from the rear

Bold rear hides a practical load space

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 7

Aside from the important main dials, the car's fascia is dominated by a touchscreen display giving access to entertainment and, where fitted, navigation functions. The slick-shifting manual gear level can be swapped for a straightforward auto unit or, in the case of the hybrid, a stubby little lever that switches between a simple set of driving modes.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 8

Tweaks to the cabin and driving experience have led to improvements in overall comfort, and the seats do a good job of making you feel secure. Noise from poorly surfaced roads and when revving any of the engines hard does make itself known, but vibration stays impressively well damped at all times. The small wheels and tall tyres underpinning the body help in this regard.

Car security
Security Rating 7

Remote central locking and an engine immobiliser are both standard, while selected models offer a completely keyless entry and ignition feature so that you can keep the key in your pocket at all times. In hatchback guise the car's boot load cover should prove sufficient to keep out prying eyes.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

All Auris models boasts a comprehensive array of passive and active safety measures as standard, including ABS, EBD, brake assist as well as stability and traction control. Occupants are also protected by seat belt reminders, numerous airbags (including knee airbag for the driver) and Isofix child seat fittings. An auto brake function can detect potential forward collisions in a slow-moving city environment, while a bundled set of features included traffic sign recognition, auto high beam assist and lane departure warning.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 5

Toyota has never pitched this generation of Auris as a car for keen drivers; more as something offering good levels of refinement and comfort. These attributes have been further boosted by the refresh, although both the steering and ride have also been sharpened up slightly. Light controls, good visibility plus sensible performance should please the target audience. The petrol engines can sound harsh when pushed hard, but under moderate driving conditions this is unlikely to be an issue.

picture of car interior

Refreshed cabin largely retains its sombre ambience

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 6

As a car for a small family the Auris hatchback isn't a bad choice. The estate version can carry more stuff but a similarly sized compact MPV's cabin would be more spacious and flexible. At least the car's durable cabin is an obvious plus point, and there should be enough oddment storage space to satisfy most demands.

First car appeal
First car Rating 7

There's no reason why the Auris hatchback variant can't be a recommended purchase for a novice driver. It's a safe, practical and reliable choice. Plus, it's not especially quick and the hybrid model is especially easy and rewarding to drive around town.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 6

In a break from the norm, this Auris demonstrates a more daring design than past models as attention shifts towards younger buyers. The refresh has further boosted the car's appeal inside and out, although it will always be viewed as the sensible option from a durability perspective by many buyers. It remains true that Toyota cars tend to stay reliable well beyond the end of the warranty if they are looked after.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

With its slightly raised front seating position, the Auris is an easily accessible car. Realistically, there's no compromise when accessing the rear seats either despite the slightly smaller door opening. At the rear the hatchback tailgate feels light and can easily be opened and closed one-handed.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The Auris competes on a level footing with the opposition here, with sound quality and intuitive controls present on the steering wheel. Bluetooth connectivity, iPod connections and sat-nav are all available depending on all bar the entry-level trim via Toyota's refreshed colour touchscreen infotainment system.

picture of car in detail

Good size load area and split-fold rear seats make this Auris a practical hatch

Colours and trim

This refreshed Auris works best if selected in a bold exterior colour, with white a surprisingly good choice. Inside, a modest range of trim levels help lift the otherwise sombre cabin ambience. The interior fabrics and plastics do not feel particularly special, but they are robust and well put together.

Parking

Thanks in part to the elevated driving position, all-round visibility is good and parking is straightforward. Parking sensors are a welcome addition, as is the car's light and accurate steering at low speeds. Factor in the model dependent reversing camera and the Auris isn't a difficult car to manoeuvre at low speeds. It's quite slim so bay parking is easier than in some competitors.

Spare wheel

Emergency tyre repair kit supplied as standard.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.2-litre (114bhp); 1.33-litre (98bhp); 1.8-litre hybrid (134bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.4-litre (89bhp); 1.6-litre (110bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox, CVT automatic gearbox. Trim levels: Active, Icon, Business Edition, Design, Excel.

 

Alternative cars

Volkswagen Golf Seventh generation Golf is the complete package but carries a hefty price tag

Ford Focus Benchmark for general motoring duties and with advanced connectivity tech

Vauxhall Astra Underrated and stylish as an everyday car, but bland to drive

Hyundai i30 Korean alternative far exceeds expectations, is stylish and is good to drive



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August 2015