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.
What used Toyota Auris hatchback will I get for my budget?
Prices for the Auris start from as low as £4000 these days, but keep in mind that this figure will only really get you a high-mileage example or one that’s previously been written off and repaired. If you want a good-quality car, you’ll need to up your budget to closer to between £5000 and £7000, while a low-mileage hybrid model will set you back at least £6000. Expect to spend between £7000 and £9000 on one of the later cars from 2017 or 2018.
How much does it cost to run a Toyota Auris hatchback?
Early petrol models aren’t particularly economical, especially given that you usually need to thrash them a bit to get the best out of them. So if your budget can only stretch to an early car and running costs are a factor, a diesel version makes sense – especially with 60mpg or thereabouts achievable in the real world, plus low road tax.
If you can afford a later car, the 1.2 turbo petrol should provide respectable fuel consumption, with an official average consumption of 58.9mpg under the older NEDC tests. Meanwhile, the 1.6 diesel hits 65.7mpg in lab tests – in other words, it won’t be as efficient as the earlier diesel model, which you’d expect given its extra power.
The hybrid version, meanwhile, achieves an official average figure of 70.6mpg and can get close to that if driven carefully at urban speeds; however, keep in mind that this model’s efficiency drops sharply on the motorway, so if you plan to use one for long trips regularly, you might find a diesel or even petrol model to be more cost-effective.
Tax on the hybrid Auris and the most efficient diesel models is free and stretches to £140 a year for the 1.6 petrol. However, the above only applies to cars registered before 1 April 2017; thereafter, all versions are taxed at a flat rate of £150 a year.
Servicing costs on the Auris are very reasonable, although it’s worth keeping in mind that Toyota’s main dealer menu pricing scheme for older cars doesn’t kick in until the cars reach five years old; for most other manufacturers, it’s three.
Which used Toyota Auris hatchback should I buy?
Entry-level cars feel a bit sparse, but top-end models feel a little too pricey given what you’re getting, so we’d keep it simple with Icon. This trim, handily, is one of the most popular – and therefore one of the easiest to find.
We’d team that with the 1.2 turbo petrol if we could. However, if that’s too rich for your budget, the 1.6 petrol that came before it is the easiest option to live with.
Our favourite Toyota Auris 1.2T Icon
What alternatives should I consider to a used Toyota Auris hatchback?
The Auris is keenly priced on the used market, so if you’re after something with a similar sense of value, the Seat Leon is a good bet. It won our Used Car of the Year award in 2018, so it’s a much better all-rounder than the Auris, although its reliability record isn’t quite as gleaming.
The same could be said of the Vauxhall Astra, which is even cheaper and more comfortable than the Auris; you also tend to get more equipment for your money.
If reliability is key, though, you’ll want to investigate the Honda Civic. With its ingenious flip-up rear seats, it’s very versatile, although the finicky dashboard design is a downside and it isn’t all that cheap to buy.