All about the booty

The kids say its ‘au­ri­some’, but AL­WYN VILJOEN has quib­bles with the quirky Toy­ota Auris Rx

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

WHEN for­mer Wit­ness mo­tor­ing editor Dave Fall first laid eyes on the Auris ear­lier this year, his re­ac­tion was: “My good­ness, if first im­pres­sions count, then the gen­er­a­tion 2 Auris is one hell of a good-looker, es­pe­cially from the front.”

My first im­pres­sion, un­for­tu­nately, was from the rear. Not that the Auris has a bad ass. But there are a lot of lines and curves go­ing on back there. Clearly the Auris then, is de­signed for peo­ple who can ap­pre­ci­ate Miss Kar­dashian’s oiled shape, of whom there are about 160 a month, ac­cord­ing to sales of this hatch.

Toy­ota is quite proud of how the Auris is far­ing in a mar­ket where dads des­per­ately need boot space and per­haps a mod­icum of good looks.

“The Auris is a rel­e­vant model de­spite a lim­ited en­gine reper­toire and a plethora of com­peti­tors. There are cur­rently 17 hatch ranges — from bread-and-but­ter to pre­mium — all try­ing to woo the same cus­tomer. Auris achieves a 10% share of the C-seg­ment hatch mar­ket which equates to an av­er­age of 160 units per month,” read the web­site.

Driv­e­trains and han­dling

As be­fore, the new Auris is avail­able with three pow­er­trains:

• a 1,3 petrol mak­ing 73 kW at 6 000 rpm and 128 Nm of torque at 3 800 rpm;

• 1,6 petrol mak­ing 97 kW at 6 400 rpm and 160 Nm of torque at 4 400 rpm; and

• a 1,8 Hy­brid mak­ing 100 kW and 142 Nm. (The hy­brid gets a make-over in Septem­ber).

A six-speed man­ual or CVT sends power to the front wheels.

On an up-and-down run to the Reef from Mar­itzburg, the best I got was 6,7 km/l, even af­ter crawl­ing along in the pea soup mist that makes the N3 so dan­ger­ous this time of the year. By com­par­i­son, my age­ing 1,9 turbo diesel gave 4,2 l/100 km with the same con­di­tions and load.

Over­tak­ing from 80 to 100 takes 10 sec­onds on the Highveld. The 1,6 is not an en­gine you want to go dic­ing with, in other words.

But this is a car with a big boot for fam­i­lies in city traf­fic, not for rac­ing. It is hap­pi­est on city streets too.

Glenn Cromp­ton, vice-pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing, en­thused about the “sharp and re­spon­sive ride in the Auris” and he would be right. There is a lot of feed­back from the small 16-inch wheels and the power steer­ing is well weighted for le­gal speeds.

The sus­pen­sion is also tuned for le­gal speeds — per­haps a bit firm over the pot­holes, smooth on the high­way.

Cladding

The new Auris comes in four ascending spec lev­els: X, Xi, XS and XR. Prices start at close to a quar­ter of a mil­lion for the 1,3 X, which is good only on the coast; and quickly go up to R361 800 for the diesel.

I had the top-of-the-range Rx model on test, which comes with all the knobs.

When Fall re­ported af­ter the launch in Jan­uary, Blue­tooth was not stan­dard across the range. It is now, which shows Toy­ota lis­tens to its buy­ers.

Not that I got to test this fea­ture. Af­ter brag­ging how Toy­ota’s Blue­tooth sys­tem links in three clicks to my smart­phone in var­i­ous mod­els, I could not get the mul­ti­me­dia sys­tem in the new Auris to pair with my Sony.

Ad­di­tional niceties in­clude a rear park­ing cam­era, six speak­ers, front sport seats, leather uphol­stery, cruise con­trol, front seat­warm­ers, auto lights, push-but­ton ig­ni­tion and elec­tro-chro­matic rear-view mir­ror. That mir­ror, by the way, is huge and does get in the way when you are peer­ing about for ad­dresses.

Prices and com­pe­ti­tion

The Auris has two selling points, that 360-litre boot and what Toy­ota calls “de­cid­edly pi­quant ex­te­rior styling”.

At a braai, the kids loved the curvy boot so much, they lit­er­ally set up house in it.

They said the Auris is au­ri­some, and who can ar­gue with that? Other big-booty con­tenders in­clude the Nissan Almera, which has much blander de­sign, but a 490-litre boot, as well as Toy­ota’s bud­get-buy, the madein-Prospec­ton Quest.

This older-shape Corolla also comes with the new Corolla 1,6 en­gine, but sells from R183 900.

For those look­ing for boot space at the best price, the two Almera mod­els win hand down, both at well un­der R200k.

For the con­verted Toy­ota fans who just want the re­as­sur­ance of a dealer in ev­ery dorp, the Quest ticks all boxes. But for the cou­ple who are al­ready plan­ning their next tat­toos us­ing the kids names, the Auris has the right in­your-face styling.

The new Auris has a three-year or 100 000 km war­ranty and a five-year or 90 000 km ser­vice plan. All mod­els have the 24hour Toy­otaCare.

Auris prices

Auris 1.3 X R223 700

Auris 1.6 Xi R249 100

Auris 1.6 XS R259 800

Auris 1.6 XR R287 700

Auris XR CVT R301 700

Auris 1.8 Hy­brid R661 800.

PHOTO: QUICK­PIC

The Auris has what Toy­ota calls ‘de­cid­edly pi­quant ex­te­rior styling’. It is not for the shy or wanna-go fast driver.

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