What is it? Facelifted version of British-built family hatch and estate.
What’s new? New versions of the Toyota Auris just arriving in showrooms gain a quite extensive mid-life refresh, centring on power trains and styling. The 1.4-litre diesel is upgraded, the 1.6 diesel replaced by a new engine and a 1.2 turbo petrol unit added to the range.
Unchanged in the now all-Euro 6 compliant line-up is the hybrid, and that engine powers half of all Auris cars sold.
The 1.2-litre 114bhp petrol powerplant powering our test car is a direct-injection unit, one of 14 new engines coming from Toyota in the space of 19 months. It’s evolved from the 1.0-litre unit already seen in the smaller Aygo, and switches its operating format depending on whether economy or performance is called for.
Exterior styling changes to the Auris cover the usual areas of a new grille and front and rear bumpers, and include new LED lamps, all of which combine to provide the car with a little more presence.
Inside there has been an effort to upgrade the quality and comfort, in a market of very strong competition. Finally the safety options available are boosted by the arrival of Toyota’s Safety Sense package, offering such niceties as road sign displays and lane-keeping assist.
What do we think of it? On paper the new engine has much to appeal. Its 10.1-second 0-62mph time is hardly pedestrian, while for a petrol unit powering a reasonably-sized car the economy and emissions figures are impressive.
It is also very smooth, whether ticking over or accelerating strongly and so long as one does not ask too much of the lower end of the rev range it impresses.
The enhancement package has also covered the chassis and the new Auris is a more placeable car than its predecessor, with decent ride quality. It’s not a car you aspire to drive, but instead the totally practical companion that the majority of owners, especially in the fleet market, require.
Inside the car maintains that practicality – while fit and finish is better it’s still a bit grey and ordinary, and the sat nav feels distinctly behind some of its rivals, but it is functional with no nasty surprises.
Verdict: We’ve yet to find anyone who would describe the Auris as exciting but Toyota will not worry about that. The car is a fleet favourite and the refreshed version will only add to that popularity. While an improvement, the interior upgrades do not compare with the class-leading Ford Focus or the newly-unveiled Vauxhall Astra, but the Auris will continue to sell well on its combination of dependability and value for money.
Toyota Auris – key specifications
Tested model: Toyota Auris Design 1.2 5-dr Man
Insurance Group: 14E
On sale: September 2015
Engine: 1,197cc 4-cylinder petrol, 112bhp, 136lbft
0-62mph and max speed: 10.1, 124mph
Economy and emissions: 52.3mpg
Test date: September 2015