Stealing the limelight
BRIAN BASSETT strikes gold in Toyota Auris 1,6l Xr Manual
THE Toyota Auris hatchback was introduced internationally in 2006. With a name derived from the Latin word meaning “Gold”, the car came to be known in South Africa in its first generation (20062012) as the Run-X and as such it was very popular. In fact there are still many of these cars on the road today.
The second generation Auris, introduced in 2012 appears to have been overshadowed by the new Toyota Corolla and is now one of the lesser-known cars in the extensive Toyota range.
Recently, thanks to Deon Olivier, new car sales manager at McCarthy Toyota in Pietermaritzburg, I was offered the opportunity of spending a few days with the Auris XR and enjoyed the car greatly.
The Auris is in many ways more distinctive than the Corolla, although it appears smaller. Its wedge shape gives it an overall sporty and powerful character, although the vehicle I drove had only a 1,6 engine without a turbocharger, which Toyota in any case uses very seldom.
At the front the vehicle wears a benign smile, created by two wrap-around halogen headlight modules linked by a distinctive grill with centrally-placed Toyota badge. The XR also has fog lamps placed lower down in on front of the vehicle and linked by a much more practical and less distinctive grill. The panels all fit closely together, which points to long-term durability.
The interior of the XR I drove was finished in black leather with white stitched edging. The adjustable, heated front sports seats are very comfortable, hugging one in all the right places, while the steering column is both tilt and telescopic, with which even I could find a driving position to suits my six feet.
The auto/manual air-conditioning system is very effective and the radio/CD/aux sound system with its four speakers delivers excellent results whether you are listening to ABBA or Andrew Young.
The dashboard is well designed, with clearly visible dials in front of the driver, while a coloured touch screen in the centre above the air-conditioning controls handles a number of functions like Bluetooth, as well as the other driver convenience systems in the vehicle. A GPS system is also available as an optional extra if you find it necessary, while the cruise control mechanism operates from the steering column and is simple and efficient.
The rear seats are comfortable, but over long distances two adults will be a great deal more comfortable than three. The boot is not large, offering 360 litres of space, but the rear seats fold down in 40; 20; 40 fashion, which doubles the boot space.
The Auris has a 5-star NCAP rating. There are driver and passenger front and side airbags as well as curtain, shield and passenger airbags and, believe it or not, a knee airbag for the driver. The usual ABS, EBD and Brake Assist are available, but Vehicle Stability Control is available on the Hybrid only. There are seat belts for all, child locks and keyless access, as well as a remote locking and alarm system making the Auris a car to which you can safely entrust your family.
Power, performance and handling
The Auris is available in six engine sizes, from the 1,3l, 73 kW 4-cylinder motor to the 1,8l 73 kW Hybrid. The XR I drove had the 97 kW, four-cylinder motor with 160 Nm. The 0-100 km/h sprint will take you about 10,8 seconds. On several occasions, however, I felt the need of a little more power and thought longingly of a turbo version. Nonetheless the car performs well and on the N3 articulated trucks are easily overtaken.
In the city, the Auris is composed and civilized. The steering is precise and I always felt in control. The gears change smoothly and are a pleasure to operate. The car parks easily and has a rear-view camera. The car has no problem with the notorious D-roads in the Midlands although you will have to use the gears to get the best from the vehicle. Expect fuel consumption of around 7,6 l/100 kms, depending on how and where you drive.
Guarantees, prices, service plans and the competition
The Auris comes with the usual three-year/100 000 km manufacturer’s guarantee and a useful five-year 90 000 km service plan. The entry level 1,3l X sells for about R216 000 and the Hybrid for around R354 000.
The XR manual I drove retails for about R280 000. As we have said in this column many times before, quality is never cheap and the Auris is certainly a quality product.
It does, however, serve a market sector that is well stocked with really good cars and we would suggest that you also look at vehicles like the Honda Civic, VW Golf, Opel Astra, Renault Megane, Hyundai i30 and Ford Focus.
At just over a quarter-million rands, the Toyota Auris uses built quality to compete in a market segment well-stocked with really good cars.