REVIEW DATE: 14 Aug 2007
Toyota is kickstarting the Auris' push for retail sales with the value TR edition. Jonathan Crouch reports
If Toyota's latest Auris is to be the kind of success it needs to be, private customers must be fully convinced of the value proposition on offer. Typically, the world's most profitable car maker is taking no chances in this regard. For evidence, check out the version we're looking at here, the value-packed TR.
The premise behind the TR models is to offer equipment upgrades over the T3 models in the standard range but feature sticker prices pitched a good deal below them. It's an aggressive strategy - but then it's a tough market. If the TR can convince retail customers that the Auris is a desirable proposition over a Volkswagen Golf or a SEAT Leon, it will have done very well indeed.
Four engines are offered in TR trim. The first is the 100bhp 1.33 VVT-i petrol unit (which manages nearly 50mpg on the combined cycle thanks to 'Stop & Start' technology) and then comes the 1.6-litre Valvematic petrol unit followed by 1.4-litre and 2.0-litre D-4D diesels. Both of the petrol engines feature Dual VVT-i, a system that utilises computerised timing control of both inlet and exhaust valves. In theory, this promotes torque at low revs and power at high engine speeds. The 1.6-litre has control over its valve lift too, resulting in the 160Nm maximum torque coming at a more usable 4,400rpm. You'll still need to rev this engine quite hard to get the best from it.
The entry level diesel unit is the 1.4-litre D-4D 90, which produces 89bhp and 190Nm of torque. A more satisfying powerplant is the 2.0-litre D4-D 130 engine. Torque is most certainly not an issue here. This unit packs 124bhp and a maximum torque figure of 300Nm, translating into a sprint to 60mph of ten seconds flat and a top speed of 121mph. The electrically-assisted power steering is accurate and compared to the petrol models, it's easy to feel the weight of the D4-D engine on turn-in.
The six-speed manual transmission features some closely-stacked ratios that you'll need to keep on top of to maintain decent torque which, in the D4-D 130, is found in a narrowish seam between 2,000 and 2,800rpm. Fortunately, the 'box is a joy to use. The Auris' ride, handling and road-holding are all above class average, but the steering, while accurate, doesn't impart much in the way of feedback, robbing you of confidence when you're really pushing on.
"Residual values look second only to the Golf in this class."
Rather than anything extreme, the Auris' exterior shape is 'evolutionary.' A less charitable verdict would be unadventurous. If Toyota really wanted to position the Auris as a different and higher quality car than the Corolla, step one should be to ensure it doesn't look broadly similar in dimension to that car. Yet despite the neater touches, well, it does. While Toyota senior suits talk about J-factor ('vibrant clarity' and 'emotional identity'), most of us think it represents a missed opportunity.
The cabin is smart and well built with a clear dash design and OPTITRON instruments but materials quality is slightly hit and miss. There's also a significant lack of oddments stowage space. For a car that namechecks the Volkswagen Golf amongst its key rivals, the Auris is more than a little behind the curve here. On the plus side, longer overhangs offer decent luggage capacity (354 litres) and generous rear legroom.
As you'd expect from Toyota, standard equipment levels are excellent. The TR looks an especially good buy. The Auris 1.6 Valvematic TR three-door gets 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and extra chrome detailing at the back of the car. Both three and five-door body styles are offered and paint finishes extend to Super Red, Silver Steel and Decuma Grey
The big plus of the Valvematic 1.6-litre engine (or its biggest drawback, depending on your perspective) is that it requires a conscious effort a big dose of revs to drive it hard. At all other times it defaults into a relaxed mode that's reasonably fuel efficient, helping it to a combined fuel economy figure of 43.5mpg and emissions of 153g/km. Again, not much in it. The 1.3-litre engine is much better with 135g/km emissions and 48.7mpg. For those covering higher mileages the diesel will be a better bet. If you're going to buy a car with your head rather than heart, the D4-D 130 may well be right in the mix. Expect 54.3mpg from this punchy oil burner. Emissions for this model are rated at 138g/km. Likewise, insurance is extremely cheap, the D4-D 130 attracting a 6E banding.
This low insurance rating is helped by the fact that the Auris is unlikely to attract boy racers and that features like a bolt-on structure for the front bumper reinforcement make the consequences of a front end nudge that much less costly to your insurer. Likewise, the radiator support retracts in the event of an accident to protect the cooling units from damage. In so many small cars, a light tap to the front end will split the radiator and leave the vehicle stranded. Discounts may be hard to obtain, but residual values look second only to the Golf in this class and at 43 per cent after three years for the 1.6-litre petrol model are leagues better than a typical Focus or Astra hatch.
In some ways, no car in Toyota's Auris range faces a tougher task than the TR model. The needs of a private buyer are often drastically different to those of a corporate customer. Whereas the former wants style, equipment and the ability to engender deep envy in their neighbours, the latter wants a tiny pence per mile running cost and a shape that's not going to attract vandals or the boys in blue. The suspicion is that the Auris remains better suited to the demands of gimlet-eyed fleet managers than thrusting twenty and thirty somethings who might normally buy a Volkswagen Golf or a Honda Civic. The TR variants must take on cynics of this persuasion and convince them otherwise.
Compare what the Auris objectively offers and there's very little wrong with the value proposition but retail customers often buy with their hearts as much as their heads and in this area, the Toyota has to really make an impact. If you're prudent you'll buy this car. No question. Wider sales success amongst less sensibly-inclined private users however, may be more challenging for dealers to achieve.
The results below show the top AURIS deals on buyacar
|Toyota Auris 1.4 D-4D Sport 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £15,997||Save £3,248|
|Toyota Auris 1.4 D-4D Active 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £13,318||Save £2,527|
|Toyota Auris 1.4 D-4D Excel 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £16,785||Save £3,460|
|Toyota Auris 1.4 D-4D Icon 5dr diesel hatchback|
|Price £15,406||Save £3,089|
|Toyota Auris 1.33 Dual VVTi TR 5dr hatchback|
|VIEW MORE DISCOUNT AURIS DEALS|
|For AURIS TR RANGE|
|OVERALL||7.3 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||7|
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