What's the used Toyota Auris hatchback like?
Are you the kind of person who gets fed up reading motoring journalists banging on about a car’s character? The kind of person who thinks that’s all rubbish and is frankly interested only in finding a used car that will get you around dependably and quietly, with the minimum of hassle and the maximum of ease? If so, there’s a strong chance the Toyota Auris will be right up your street.
Toyota’s family cars have never been renowned for their ability to stir the soul or tingle the spine. But they are well known – and loved by millions of buyers – for their ability to provide unobtrusive, reliable transport with minimal fuss. This second-generation Auris was no different.
A smattering of engine options were available throughout the Auris’s life. Earlier examples had the choice between a pair of petrols (in 1.3-litre and 1.6-litre forms), a 1.4-litre diesel and a 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid. In 2015, a facelift brought a 1.2-litre turbo petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel. At the end of 2017, the range was stripped back to just the 1.2 turbo and the hybrid.
At launch, the range kicked off with Active trim, which had climate control, then stepped up to the more popular Icon, which got a touchscreen infotainment system with a digital radio and Bluetooth. Excel, at the top of the range, added dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights and wipers, heated front seats and keyless entry and start. Throughout the Auris’s life, several other versions and special editions such as Icon Tech, Icon Plus, Design and Business Edition came and went, most sitting roughly in the middle of the range and with varying levels of equipment.
How the Auris drives depends on which version you choose, because the 1.3 petrol and 1.4 diesel versions had a less sophisticated suspension set-up that means they ride and handle more crudely. Together with their gutlessness, that puts both engine options firmly on the ‘avoid’ list.
The other two petrols and the 1.6 diesel offer a relatively smooth ride, although even these can be caught out by the odd sharp bump. They do offer safe, predictable handling, although if you push an Auris hard, you’ll find it flops over in corners and pushes its nose wide at the slightest provocation – this isn't much fun. These versions are at least quick enough for most drivers, though; the 1.2 turbo is, in particular, a real gem, being both gutsy and smooth.
Then there’s the hybrid model, which rides and handles much like the high-end petrols and diesels but accelerates rather differently. Its electric motor gives plenty of shove off the line, but at higher speeds you’ll notice that it feels rather lethargic – and you’ll find the petrol engine revving noisily any time you call for even moderate acceleration.
The Auris’s interior isn’t dull to look at, but the drab plastics make it feel a little cheap, as does the rather dated-feeling infotainment system. Still, at least all the switches and buttons are where you’d hope to find them, so everything’s easy enough to get to grips with.
Boot space in the Auris is adequate, but rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Pulsar both offer more room, while the Skoda Octavia blows the Auris away in this area. The one upside is an adjustable boot floor, standard on every model, that makes it easier to load items and flattens out the step created when you fold the rear seats down.
It’s the same story with passenger space, whether in the front or rear – it's decent enough, but bettered by the class best. In fact, that’s a summation that broadly describes the Auris as a whole – inoffensive, but hardly outstanding.