Review and road test of the Toyota Auris Touring Sports
The Toyota Auris Touring Sports is the estate version of Toyota's practical family hatchback. Like all Auris models, it's been much improved of late. Jonathan Crouch checks it out.
Ten Second Review of the Toyota Auris Touring Sports
With their rejuvenated Auris Touring Sports model, Toyota aims to bring us a compact yet very spacious estate that's a cut or two above the class norm. This version boasts a smart look, impressive safety provision and lots of equipment. And it's still very practical, with a decent 530-litre boot that extends to 1,658-litres with the seats folded. It's a car that's been under-rated.
You might well think of the Toyota Auris as a rather sensible but broadly uninteresting thing. If so, you're a little behind the curve. These were sentiments reasonably applicable to the first generation version, but in 2012, Toyota brought us a MK2 design with quite a bit more attitude. Then, just to emphasise the point, they followed this up a year later by launching the estate bodystyle the original design had never offered.
And not just any estate. The unconventional name - the Auris Touring Sports - was a clue that this car was trying for a younger, more fashionable audience. People who wanted more from their transport than sense and sensibility. It was a worthy effort, but one slightly hobbled by a rather dull interior and unremarkable driving dynamics. Outside if the top petrol/electric hybrid variant that few could afford, the engine range was a little behind the curve too. So Toyota has gradually improved things since. This revised Touring Sports model matches sharp looks to a revised trim and specification line-up and still manages to be one of the most practical choices in its class. Let's check it all out.
The key news engine-wise is that the powertrain choice has been reduced to just two units, both petrol-powered. One of them is Toyota's revvy 1.2T direct injection turbocharged unit, which develops 115PS and is available with either a six-speed manual or continuously variable auto transmission. Almost three-quarters of Auris customers though, opt for the 1.8-litre petrol/electric hybrid engine. In recent times, the driver appeal of this variant has been increased with powertrain retuning that delivers an improved, natural driving experience with no compromise in the highly efficient performance. The brand's engineers have secured a closer alignment between the increase in engine and vehicle speeds, creating a more linear acceleration feel as the driver applies the throttle.
This hybrid engine has long been one of the smoothest in its class and with the addition of the electric motor, it's also reasonably brisk. Working only via auto transmission, it'll make 62mph in 10.9 seconds on the way to 112mph. The Auris hybrid's suspension has been softened in recent times, but that's only because the chassis is reasonably stiff and the suspension components pretty light. This combination means that you'll get a decent ride, with handling that'll also probably be a little better than you'd expect. If your experience of this car is limited to the first generation pre-2012 version, you'll probably also probably notice that the steering is rather more feelsome than it used to be too.
When operating its switchable all-electric EV mode, the Auris Hybrid generates zero CO2, NOx and particulates for distances up to 1.2 miles at speeds up to about 31mph, according to the level of battery charge and driving conditions.
Design and Build
This remains one of the better looking compact estates. Some of these look a little awkward with the kind of finished shape that brings to mind a hatchback being squired by a uPVC conservatory. There's nothing like that here. In profile, the 'Touring Sports' model shares its hatchback stabemate's steeply raked windscreen, which flows into an extended roofline with aluminium roof rails and an integral rear spoiler.
Does such a fashionable approach mean that this car wants for space inside? Not really. The Touring Sports has the same 2,600mm wheelbase and 10.4m turning circle as the Auris hatch, but is 285mm longer overall - all of that extra length dedicated to the extended load space. With the rear seats in place, the load area is 1,115mm long and 1,452mm wide, giving a capacity of 530-litres. With the rear seats folded, the length increases to 2,047mm; with load space height up to 890mm, the maximum capacity is a very class-competitive 1,658-litres. As well as being more capacious than most of its rivals, the Touring Sports offers strong functionality too. There's the one-touch Easy-Flat folding rear seat system, a dual-level load space floor and a two-way tonneau cover (standard on most trim levels). At the wheel, the cabin's of much higher quality these days - much more Golf like, with smarter instruments and a slick 4.2-inch TFT colour touchscreen.
Market and Model
Because Toyota has now dropped the previously available entry-level 'Active' trim grade, Auris Touring Sports pricing starts a little higher than it did before. The entry-level spec is now 'Icon', which starts from around £23,600 - which makes this estate variant about £1,100 pricier than the equivalent hatch model. Plusher trim levels further up the range include 'Icon Tech', 'Design' and 'Excel'.
Even base 'Icon' variants are very well equipped, featuring 16-inch alloys, a reversing camera, front fog lights, power windows, six-speaker audio with DAB, automatic air conditioning and a shark fin antenna, all as standard. The Toyota Safety Sense package provides a Pre-Collision System, Automatic High Beam, Lane Departure Alert and Road Sign Assist. 'Icon Tech' models match this specification and add cruise control and Toyota Touch 2 with Go, adding navigation and connectivity functions to the multimedia system. The 'Design' grade increases the style factor with 17-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, black side sills, Alcantara upholstery, sports front seats and rear privacy glass, together with cruise control. It also increases the convenience factor with the addition of front and rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto-folding door mirrors, dusk-sensing headlights and rain-sensing wipers.
Cost of Ownership
If the Auris Touring Sports has piqued your interest with its engineering, you're certainly going to like the news when it comes to running costs. Toyota has made a concerted effort to benchmark the best in class here and in the case of the hybrid model, it has a car that emits just 79g/km and delivers 80.7mpg on the combined cycle. Did you ever think you'd get that from green pump motoring? If you're looking at the conventional 1.2T petrol variant, this delivers 52.3mpg on the combined cycle and 109g/km, though you can improve on that further by opting for Multidrive S CVT automatic transmission: do that and the figures are upgraded to 61.4mpg and 106g/km.
These days, Toyota works to a philosophy called 'Genchi Genbutsu' which, roughly translated from Japanese, means 'go see for yourself'. In other words, in developing its new era models, the Tokyo brand has, more than ever, taken the trouble to speak to owners in order to see how they use their cars in real life. You can see the fruit of that approach in this model. It's a design with a strong focus on desirability and real-world utility.
In short, this Touring Sports variant has something about it. Okay, so it's not going to have the enthusiast press getting all excited, but here is a car many people would be delighted to have on their drive. Nothing about it suggests you've settled for a life of suburban mediocrity. Sometimes practical is good. And sometimes Toyota Aurises are good. Welcome to a surprising new world.
Toyota Auris Touring Sports review by Jonathan Crouch