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Toyota Auris TR 1.33 Stop & Start 5-door

Click to view picture gallery“Toyota has just launched its new
  Auris 2010 petrol and diesel range
  priced from 14,463 to 17,745.
  Not only do the revamped models
  benefit from a sharper appearance
  inside and out but they also come
  with a new five-year warranty

RATHER THAN SIMPLE STYLING TWEAKS, Toyota has gone back to the sheet metal to give its new Auris 2010 more road presence and driver appeal. The front end has been comprehensively reworked with a new, deep bumper with integrated fog lamps (TR and SR models), new swept-back headlamps, a revised bonnet profile with stronger crease lines and a grille that adopts the Toyota family identity established by the latest generation Avensis and Verso.

New 16-inch and 17-inch alloy wheels have been designed for the TR and SR models and all versions feature turn indicator lights integrated into the door mirrors. At the rear there is a smart flash of chrome across the top of the number plate, revised lamp clusters and a new rear bumper with extended corner sections that create a 'catamaran' look. Owners can choose from seven exterior colours, including three new metallic shades.

A soft-touch material has been introduced across the top of the instrument binnacle and around the glovebox, and the centre console has been revised with changes to the instrument design for smarter appearance and improved clarity. Auris's distinctive bridged centre console has a new silver finish that matches the door handles and the shape of the handbrake has been changed for easier operation and improved tactile quality.

White illumination has been introduced for the instrument dials, with amber lighting for the analogue instruments featured in the new Auris SR. To complete the fresh look, new cloth upholstery designs have been introduced.

There's also a new three-grade line-up for the 2010 Auris, with a new sporty SR spec variant joining the established T2 and TR. The TR, expected to account for around 80 per cent of the UK sales mix, will remain at the heart of the range.

Key additional specification changes include the provision of a USB port and Aux-in socket to connect portable music players to the car's audio system along with a leather-trimmed, flat-bottom steering wheel on all models. Heated door mirrors are introduced on the T2 grade, with a folding function on TR and SR versions.

“As well as packing
much more visual appeal,
the three- and five-door
Auris hatchbacks
continue to
deliver competitive
of performance, fuel
economy and low CO2
A specification overview sees the base models with 15-inch steel wheels, good sound system, air conditioning, electrically-operated front windows and door mirrors, seven airbags, leather trim for the steering wheel and the gear knob and remote central locking. The main-selling TR improves on this by upgrading to 16-inch alloys and climate control and adding rear electric windows and retractable folding door mirrors.

The new grade Auris SR — powered exclusively by the 1.6-litre Valvematic petrol engine with six-speed manual transmission — incorporates sporty styling inside and out with new-design five-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels, dark-tinted rear privacy glass, roof spoiler with integrated stop lamp, darkened headlamp glasses, 'Tatami' sport seat trim and amber-lit analogue dashboard instrumentation. Despite all this additional specification, the SR model costs only 500 more than the TR.

As well as packing much more visual appeal, the Auris range of three- and five-door hatchbacks continues to deliver competitive combinations of performance, fuel economy and low CO2 emissions from its Toyota Optimal Drive powertrains.

Toyota's engineers have also taken UK customer feedback into account, fine-tuning Auris's suspension system (T2 and TR models) to better suit European roads and deliver extra ride comfort and stability. The speed-sensitive Electric Power Steering (EPS) has also been revised and refined to deliver better feedback and improved vehicle agility.

The engine range comprises a 1.33-litre Dual VVT-i petrol engine with manual transmission with Stop & Start function, 1.6 Valvematic petrol with manual or MultiMode auto transmission and a 1.4 D-4D diesel unit with manual 'box or Multimode auto. All benefit from Toyota Optimal Drive technologies for reduced weight, higher efficiency and reduced emissions.

Performance data is unchanged, but they continue to offer a balance of performance, fuel efficiency and low emissions. Running costs are really important in this sector and the range of engines offer relatively low CO2 emissions ranging from 125 to 153g/km. First Year VED tax runs from 0 to 155 and the Combined Cycle average fuel economy, depending on the engine chosen, starts from a high 60.1mpg and goes down to 42.8mpg.

What it does do
is to get its occupants
from A to B
in comfort without
hurting the wallet
or purse
To sample the hopefully more appealing 2010 Auris, I tried the likely best-selling TR 1.33 VVT-i Stop & Start. This British-built five-door version is priced at 15,640 and is now far more appealing to look at. And, of course, just as impressively roomy as it ever was. It is no ball of fire but then nobody really expects it to be — cost effective motoring is what this version is all about.

What it does do is to get its occupants from A to B in comfort without hurting the wallet or purse. With the free-revving 1.33-litre, 100bhp four-cylinder petrol engine with intelligent variable valve timing, you get what power there is when you need it and then it goes into fuel saving mode when not under load.

It has a Stop & Start system which shuts off the engine altogether at standstill and automatically starts again when it's time to move off. Top speed is an insignificant 109mph and zero to 62mph takes a relaxed 13.1 seconds but this unit can be frustrating to drive on A and B roads due to its high gearing and it takes time to build up to 50mph. However, once 'in the cruise' at 70mph on the motorway it's fine for most of the time; only hills and the added weight of three passengers dulled the progress.

But the fuel economy for a petrol engine of this size in a roomy car of this size and weight was good: 42.8mpg. Although somewhat lower than the official 47.9mpg, my test figure was realistic in real-world conditions. The 110 annual road tax is a bonus and, thanks to a 10E rating, insurance costs will be low as well.

Ride comfort and space was rather good for a car of this size but the road control and handling was not up to Focus or Golf standards and the steering, whilst more accurate, still doesn't send enough feedback to the driver.

Not so good is the lacklustre performance and so-so handling. In this form the Auris is not as desirable as the Golf, Focus or Astra. That said, the more costly Auris Hybrids (18,950 to 20,700) are a much better bet, especially if used mainly for commuting with up to 70.6mpg — an actual 61.2mpg on a recent test.

On the plus side, the Auris has better styling, improved interior quality and specification, is comfortable, roomy, reliable, painless to own and offers good fuel economy potential. The latest Auris certainly looks much better, feels much more upmarket, has a higher level of specification and is frugal to run; so Yes, it has improved. And the new five-year warranty is a sales sweetener not to be overlooked. — David Miles

Toyota Auris TR 1.33 Stop & Start 5-door
| 15,640
Maximum speed: 109mph | 0-62mph: 13.1 seconds | Overall test MPG: 42.8mpg
Power: 100bhp | Torque: 97lb ft | CO2 135g/km