Steal­ing the lime­light

BRIAN BAS­SETT strikes gold in Toy­ota Auris 1,6l Xr Man­ual

The Witness - Wheels - - SUPPLEMENTS -

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.

Ex­te­rior

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.

In­te­rior

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.

Safety

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.

PHOTO: QUICKPIC

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.

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