29.10.2015Toyota Auris Touring Sports 1.2 review
Toyota is big on logic and the new Auris Touring Sports shows quantifiable improvements in most areas. Fitted with a new 1.2 litre turbocharged petrol engine, the Toyota estate can deliver near diesel fuel economy without the known downsides. It doesn't grab you emotionally but it rides and handles much better than the previous version. The cabin is more pleasant than before too, but some hard plastics and thin boot carpets show it is built down to a price.
Review by Russell Bray
The diesel emissions debacle has focused renewed attention on petrol so how does Toyotaâ€™s new Auris Touring Sports estate car cope with its all-new 1.2 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet. With four valves per cylinder it revs sweetly and freely enough; developing maximum power of 114bhp at 5,600rpm. That's the power of early VW Golf GTIs but it's not enough to justify the Sports name tag. These days acceleration to 62mph in 10.4 seconds doesn't feel that pokey, and it's effectively the same as the 1.6 diesel. Maximum torque of 136 lbs ft, even from just 1,500rpm (to 4,000rpm) means you have to be quick on the gear changes at times to keep up with modern traffic flow. A top speed of 124mph means the Auris is a happy, long distance motorway cruiser.
With the exception of its sports cars, one has the impression Toyota doesn't really care much about the fun of driving or taking corners smoothly and with precision. It came as a shock then how neatly the Auris Touring Sports tackled UK back roads. The electric power assisted steering, which has been remapped, remains consistent in feel too. Another surprise was the ride comfort. This was the smoothest Toyota I have driven in years. High speed stability was good too and there was plenty of grip on some very wet roads. We only tried the car relatively heavily laden with either two people and luggage or four people and no luggage but it behaved consistently with no tendency for the tail to wag the dog.
Small estate cars can look rather ho-hum, like the Ford Focus or the VW Golf, but Toyotaâ€™s stylists have managed to give the Auris Touring Sports a sleek, modern and more sophisticated look with a sharply drooping snoot and projector headlights. The back is quite good looking too with attractive lights, but in bad weather it gets smothered in muck. This suggests good aerodynamics but it would be useful to have remote control opening to keep your hands and clothes clean. The boot is well shaped with two plastic bins by the wheel arches which would be useful for wet items such as hiking boots. The rear seat splits asymmetrically and flips forward at the pull of levers in the boot. The resulting load area has a large step though. The Touring Sports is only 265mm longer than the hatchback with all the extra going for load space. Toyota measures the volume at 530 litres, increasing to 1658 litres with the seat backs folded. Length 4330mm. Width 1760mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Though the driving position was fine, about 100 miles was all I could manage in the driver's seat before needing to get out for a stretch. More back support would have helped. The column stalks, including the cruise control, are logical and simple to use. General noise, vibration and harshness has been reduced compared to the previous model but over rougher surfaces the tyres can still kick up enough of a din to need to turn up the radio. Electric power assisted steering is consistent but with no true road 'feel'. Friends commented on the good rear seat space and headroom and the double helping of cup/bottle holders. I would have liked more strength in the brakes at times. Instruments are clear but pretty sparse and the centre display between the main dials has a rather strange blue background.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Despite all the clever technology the driver and his or her right foot can still make a big difference to fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. The combined test cycle figure is 51.4 MPG on 17-inch wheels (58.9 MPG on 16-inch). Real world figures depending on traffic conditions and trip urgency saw results from 32.7 MPG to 37.7 MPG, 43.2 MPG and a best of 45.2 MPG. The Design model is in road tax band C with no first year tax and then an annual Â£110. Insurance is group 14. Warranty is for five years/100,000 miles. To compare, official economy figure for the soon to be tested hybrid version is 80.7 MPG, with CO2 emissions of 81 g/km.
Like the 1-litre engine in Toyota's Aygo, this new 1.2 litre is able to switch between different operating cycles to achieve optimum efficiency or performance, according to driving conditions. Compact and lightweight, it works effectively with the automatic stop-start system which saves you fuel in traffic. The lightweight engine features a number of advanced technologies, including direct injection, enhanced intelligent variable wider valve timing, a high tumble port cylinder head with an integrated exhaust manifold, lightweight valve train, a variable control oil jet system and resin intake manifold and intake pipes. The direct injection system allows multiple fuel injections during the power cycle. Carbon dioxide emissions are from 106g/km when combined with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) and 16-inch diameter wheels. The model tested, with 17-inch wheels, emits 126 g/km CO2. According to our calculations, the tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 42.
The cabin feels more plush than the previous model but we are not talking Volkswagen plush here and there's still plenty of hard plastic about. A new 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-information screen (on most trim levels) ups the game a lot, though to access some functions distracts from actually driving as it is touch-screen. All the kit you might need though is there including electric windows, power assisted steering, cruise control, air conditioning and a very clear satellite navigation system - though sometimes the live traffic information for roadworks ahead etc was wrong (thankfully). Options on the test car were metallic paint (Â£495) and Toyota touch and go (Â£750) which requires registering on line to access on-line services. Toyota's website seemed woefully out of date when we looked to check this and some functions do not work with Apple computers. Bike and ski carriers are available as options along with a tow bar and a bumper protection plate.
Model tested: Toyota Auris Touring Sports Design 1.2
Body-style: Five-door compact estate car
Engine/CO2: 114bhp 1197cc four-cylinder petrol / 126 g/km
Trim grades: Active, Icon, Design, Business Edition, Excel
On-road price: From £15,095. Price as tested £21,840
Warranty: Five years / 100,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 stars