A correspondent at The Executive was recently offered to test drive the new Toyota Auris - and agreed without a second thought. Much has been heard about the new Auris: its gadgets, smooth drive and punch. What was not expected was the level of internal comfort and luxury of the drive. Getting into this car gives the driver a feeling of comfort and security.
The Auris is spacious and the level of equipment is pretty impressive. I let myself bathe in the feeling of security this car offers and relax in the comfort of the driving seat. Everything is within reach of the driver and designed to make the drive a pleasant experience - which it certainly was. Road holding and overall vehicle control whilst driving is impressive to say the least.
The Auris is the only car in its class to offer a Hybrid version - efficient and green, and it is affordably priced whichever version you choose. Legroom is impressive and the car can accommodate five passengers comfortably not least due to the fact that there isn’t much of a ‘hump’ on the rear floor (unlike many other cars) thereby contributing to more legroom for the fifth passenger.
Split rear seats allow for a combination of one passenger and some bulky luggage or long items that need to be transported in the car. The luggage boot itself is smaller than that of the VW Golf but quite a bit smaller than the Skoda Octavia’s. The split level feature of the Auris however allows the size of the boot to en- large exponentially, enabling this car to match the luggage space of larger cars. Additionally, at the front of the vehicle there are several generously proportioned cubbyholes which are very useful for storing assorted items and adding to the storage space.
This car was built with comfort in mind and the suspension is complimentary to this concept. There are petrol and diesel ver- sions available and both seem to be offering very smooth, quiet and comfortable rides for driver and passengers alike. Whilst the Hybrid version is the quietest of all - as to be expected, when ac- celerating on a straight long road - such as the Mriehel By-Pass there is a slight droning noise - however in traffic it is a dream to drive and as silent as one would expect. Thus, though the noise level might be somewhat higher than other hatchbacks, the Auris’ drive is far smoother and more exciting!
Whilst the front seats are comfortable and roomy (and ideal for long journeys too), they could do with a bit more side support and backing. Furthermore, the buttons and controls are within easy and comfortable reach of the driver and are reassuringly solid to the touch. The dashboard looks interesting but it’s a shame the lower plastics do not feel as solid as the internal upper parts of the car do.
The steering wheel has the tendency to feel somewhat light un- til gotten used to, particularly when driving at higher speeds. An interesting and useful feature is the central consol Touch Screen, which controls many features of the car; not least the music sound system. It is simple to use and can be used (carefully) while driving due to the large screen. The windscreen offers a good overview of the front of the car, but side views are a bit restricted. There is a rear view camera for parking which is fitted to all models ex- cept the lower end ones. Pedals and Gest tick are easy to use and smooth, requiring minimal effort from the driver - and so the drive is ultimately less tiring.
The Automatic version is available with the 1.6 - litre petrol, or the Petro Electric Hybrid models - being offered standard in the latter. There is no high performance model of the Auris - it doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t, but what it is - is a great city car which is nippy and small; meaning that parking is easierand driving in traffic is surprisingly simple and pleasant. The road holding is great, making the drive safe and comfortable at the same time. With 78.5 mpg it is to be expected that the Hy- brid version grabs the headlines and leads the way in energy conservation and economy. The 1.4 - litre Diesel engine comes a close second with an impressive 74.3 mpg and this version is bet- ter suited to longer motorway journeys than its hybrid brother. In cut and thrust traffic, the Hybrid fares better than the diesel version although the emissions are a low and appealing 99g/ km! Unfortunately, Maltese roads do not contribute positively to emissions due to excessive traffic so in reality, emissions will like- ly by higher. These figures compare very favourably with other cars in the same class namely the Ford Focus and Peugeot 308 al- though the petrol versions fair slightly worse. Toyota have priced the Auris very reasonably and competitively, especially the entry levels and is therefore lower priced than the VW Golf and the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Hyundai i30. And the Icon model should hold its value yet better, being fully equipped and loaded.
The versions on offer are the Icon, Active, Sport and Excel speci- fications levels and can be combined with any engine size and version. Even the basic Active comes with standard Air Condi- tioning, electric front windows, and steering wheel mounted con- trols for the sound system. If you upgrade to the Icon version - this adds Alloy Wheels, Rear Electric Windows, Bluetooth, phone connection and rear parking camera. The Sports model offers all the above but with more stylish controls and touches - both inside and out. And the top of the range Excel adds larger wheels, key- less entry and ignition start, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers plus lots more.... A final verdict is that the Auris is an im- pressive car for its class with all that you would expect from a city car albeit with a little bit to be desired in the steering side, and I would wholeheartedly recommend this car which is a combina- tion of style, comfort and economy. A car for the present.