On the Road

Locomotive-like tug and city-car economy turn the Toyota Auris into something slightly less ordinary.

by Richard Bremner
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

It's pronounced 'ow-ris', and it has got one of the toughest jobs a new car - and a new name - ever had: replacing the Toyota Corolla. With sales of 32 million globally since 1966, the Corolla was the most popular car on the planet, and one of the most-purchased consumer names in the world. Ditching a monicker that successful cannot have been easy, especially for ultra-conservative Toyota. But it has powerful reasons for doing so - not least the fact that the Corolla has never been a massive hit in Europe, despite having been built here (in Britain, actually) for some years now. More than that, Toyota considers this European-flavoured Auris - designed in Europe, for Europe - to be different enough to deserve a new name.

However, anyone familiar with the outgoing Corolla will be surprised to find that the Auris bears more than a passing resemblance to its predecessor. Park them side-by-side and you might think that the new car is the old model with a nose-lift and a tail-tuck. Yet the Auris is almost entirely original. Step inside, and there's no mistaking old for new, the cabin dominated by a flying buttress of a centre console inspired by... the flying buttresses of Paris's Notre Dame cathedral. This mildly dramatic silvered construction places the gear lever conveniently high, digs inconveniently into your left knee and is complemented by a set of orange-lit 3D instruments that confirm the fascia's modernist style. But that is where the revolution begins and ends for the Auris, an otherwise respectable but largely unremarkable car in the Ford Focus class.

Yet it certainly isn't without merit, a major plus being cabin space. Toyota has designed the Auris taller to provide more room inside, particularly in the rear, and it's a ploy that works, back-benchers enjoying better-than-average space for a car of this type. The boot is big, too. The flipside is a cumbersome way with corners, brought on by the car's extra height. Still, drive it with vigour and the Auris will cross country back-roads at quite a rate, particularly if it's propelled by the 177 bhp T180 diesel engine that tops the range. This potent, civilised and economical motor has a top speed of 130 mph and a 0-62 mph sprint time of 8.1 seconds, while turning in 45 mpg.

The T180 is the most expensive model in the range, but it's also the most engaging, the combination of effortless, locomotive-like tug and city-car economy turning this otherwise ordinary car into something, well, slightly less ordinary. We don't want to get carried away when there's such stiff opposition from the Ford Focus and the VW Golf, both of them better all-rounders. A disappointing outcome, then, even if the Auris is a better car than the old Corolla.

SPECIFICATION
Toyota Auris 2.2 D-4D T180
Price: £18,795
Max power: 177 bhp
Max torque: 221 lb ft
Max speed: 130 mph
0-62 mph: 8.1 sec
Fuel consumption: 45.6 mpg
CO2 emissions: 164 g/km

RIVALS

Ford Focus 2.0 TDCi Titanium £18,140

Not as brisk, but interior higher class, it's more fun to drive and more economical.

VW Golf 2.0 TDI 170 GT £19,595

Similar performance and economy and more classily finished, but pricey.

Richard Bremner is editor of Clean Green Cars - www.cleangreencars.co.uk.

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