Toyota invited Girlracer to test out the estate version of the already tried and tested Auris, called the Touring Sports. Majorca hosted the launch for the UK journalists, an ideal setting of glorious sunshine and warmth to discover the practical family car’s qualities.
Since the launch of the GT86, a personal favourite sports coupe of mine currently on the market, Toyota have used the same ethos to develop cars that are more engaging than before. They did this successfully with the hatchback, so did they achieve this with the estate, despite the extra weight and larger dimensions? In fact from the rear wheels back is the only difference as well as some extra soundproofing. Therefore the suspension set up, chassis and wheelbase is identical to the hatchback. The result is a capable wagon that can be gently guided around corners with minimal body roll thanks to the low centre of gravity and decisive steering.
This is all very well, however what about passenger comfort? This has not suffered any compromise, which is another tick for the new Toyota. The seats are large and comfortable offering the right level of support for long journeys. The interior as a whole also boasts “spaciousness”, a popular word in the Toyota/Lexus lingo and surrounds its occupants with plenty of soft touch materials. If we were to be excessively picky then the digital clock is slightly dated, although not offensively so and the sat nav is a little slow on roundabouts. When it fancies though it shows major junctions as a picture, a helpful guide when negotiating new roads.
Cars available for test drives were the 1.6 Valvematic (please refer to Auris article for detailed explanation of this innovative technology) and the 1.8VVT-I Hybrid. The benefits of owning the latter extend further than emissions, class leading at 85g/km of CO2 returning 76.3 MPG on the combined cycle with 15” wheels, maintenance costs are approximately 50% lower with no starter motor, alternator or timing belt to trouble the purse strings. Clever new packaging of the hybrid system means that the class leading luggage capacity is unaffected and is covered by an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty, giving extra peace of mind over the already robust reputation for reliability.
There are four models to choose from; Active, Icon, Sport and Excel all fitted with 7 airbags helping the Auris Touring Sports score the maximum 5 stars in the EURO NCAP safety tests, as well as air conditioning, follow-me-home lighting system and LED daytime running lights. This give the Auris a grown up and modern look, complemented with the aerodynamic styling the extra space does not look in any way like an extra add on, but more an integral and overall distinctive design.
If you plan to drive around cities and towns then the Hybrid will suit you best. Opt for the top of the range and Intelligent Park Assist is fitted as standard, using ultra sonic technology to assess a parking space and leaving the driver only to control the throttle and brake pedals with assistance and steering inputs left entirely down to the clever Auris Touring Sports. For motorway miles, go for the diesel as this provides the best amount of torque for keeping up with the flow of faster moving traffic and returns a very respectable 67.3 MPG combined.
When compared to the famous three, Astra, Golf and Focus, like for like spec none can compete on price. All will struggle to pip the Japanese carmakers on reliability as well. So if it’s extra space, affordability and owning a reliable car that matters, it will be worthwhile adding the Auris Touring Sports to the shortlist. By Rebecca Jackson