The latest Toyota Auris is a pretty good-looking car. Well, that’s subjective of course. I like it; it firstly scores points for being a hatchback, a body shape that will always be my favourite. Secondly, it has a few styling cues that are different to what you find out there these days. The taillights being my favourite. They stick out, literally. They don’t really follow the lines of the car and it makes this a focal point. I only realized just how much I like them when I looked through the photos I took of the car, there were loads of the taillights. But as said, this was subjective because a good mate of mine had a look at the car and his first comment was: “Sis, those taillights are horrible”.
Luckily there’s more to the car than a set of lights at the rear. The 4-door hatchback has a good shape to it; everything that counts is in proportion and the addition of piano black and chrome in certain parts give things an upmarket look and feel. My one complaint is my usual complaint with all these modern cars, the wheels. They look good and have a unique design which is hard to achieve these days, but they only measure in at 16-inches. I think a minimum standard should be 17-inches on cars this size, with 18s being an option. The wheel arches and ride height are big enough to accommodate this size and the right wheels can make or break the looks of a car. Up front the Toyota logo looks like it extends to embrace the bi-halogen headlights, this gives the car a stern look, like a frown. I like grumpy looking cars. The nose also doesn’t have that flat section for pedestrian safety that most new cars have. Lower down the air dams in the bumper do the same, but they extend and widen to house the spotlights. At the rear there’s a chrome splitter in the lower section of the bumper and slightly higher up there’s the fog lights with a black surround – again, it looks good, rather sporty. The top of the hatch lid has an incorporated spoiler and just below the window there’s a sort of add-on with the Toyota logo on it which acts and looks like a second lower spoiler. Again, I like this. The rear window is small as a result of the raking shape of the car, and so it’s been given a small rain wiper, but like really small, cute even. I only mention it because of the novelty factor; you could use it as a key ring.
Inside the Toyota Auris XR it’s quite good. Getting in there with the keyless entry was another story though, but it was only thanks to my amazing brain. On most cars with keyless entry there’s a small rubber button that you press and the car unlocks. The Auris doesn’t have this so I didn’t think there was a keyless entry system so I’d unlock with the remote, as you do. Inside the cabin you use a start button to get going, but there’s no slot to fit the key into, just like a keyless entry / start system. I thought it a little awkward because usually you leave your keys in your pocket with these systems but here you needed to take it out to unlock and then it would be in your hands when you climb inside, but not need to put it in a slot like on a Volvo or Mini. The night before the car was collected I went to make sure all my stuff was taken out and I tried to open the door. Because I thought I left it unlocked, I pulled on the handle twice as a result and the car opened, the keys were in my pocket. Once again, RTFM (read the freaking manual). This is something I really should do when the car arrives.
Edit - Toyota's Clynton Yon told me that you can tell if a Toyota or Lexus has true keyless entry by the little parallel indentations on the door handles - if you you touch those lines the car will open. Lesson learned - thanks C.
This model features full leather seats and the pair up front are on the sporty side. The multifunction steering wheel is also leather-clad and matches perfectly. The controls will control most of the functions on the infotainment system that’s headed up by a 7-inch touchscreen. The system is easy to use and quite intuitive, even the missus had no problem playing around with it. You can set up the main screen to display various screens; I set it up to display the audio system and the fuel economy guide. When engaging reverse the rear view camera pops up on teh screen, complete with guidelines. Other features include cruise control, a dual zone aircon with climate control, all the common driver aids (ABS, EBD, BAS), airbags for the driver and front passenger as well as side, curtain and knee airbags (driver only). The front seats are heated but the controls are hidden in the compartment where the USB, auxiliary jack and 12v power plug are found. The wife got sick of me asking her in a Sean Connery James Bond voice if she wants her butt warmed up before adding electronic sound effects when the cover opens to reveal the buttons. Another thing I liked was the flat section to the left of the screen; it’s smooth and big enough to attach a GPS device if you are as useless with directions as I am. If someone cuts you off in traffic and you're the type to let them know with a long press of the hooter, this car will disappoint a wee bit. I did just that when a scooter cut me off and when the cocky little tweenie on hooted back at me his scooter's hooter was about 3000db louder...
I’ve driven many Toyotas over the years and I‘ve always liked their small capacity, high-revving normally aspirated motors. This one is very much like the 4A-GE of old. It’s a 1600cc, 16v lump with Toyota’s Valvematic technology and is called the 1ZR-FAE. The small capacity motor makes a very usable 97kW (6400rpm) and 160Nm (4400rpm). If I had to fault it I’d say that the limiter comes in too soon, this is a Toyota after all, so 7200rpm would be more fun no matter if it makes power that high up or not. The 6-speed manual gearbox is good, it has a notchy feel to it that I like and the clutch is quite light. The goes well with this setup. It may not win any drag races, but it certainly feels like it can. Added to the fact that it can be chucked around and it sticks to the tarmac properly again increases the fun factor. Toyota claim the Auris XR will use 6.2-litres/100km and on the press car it returned that exact figure, even with giving it a bit of welly now and then.
The Toyota Auris RX is exactly that, a Toyota. It feels solid, it drives well and I’m willing to bet that it will never give a day’s trouble, true to the Toyota spirit. There are six models in the Auris range starting at R223 700 for the Auris X up to R360 300 for the Auris Hybrid. The model as tested, the XR, is R287 700.
Auris X - R223 700
Auris Xi - R249 100
Auris Xs - R259 800
Auris XR - R287 700 *
Auris XR CVT - R301 700
Auris Hybrid - R360 300
The new Toyota Auris range comes standard with:
• 5-year 90 000km service plan
• 3-year / 100 000km warranty
Features 15 000km service intervals
For more info or head on over to www.toyota.co.za