Toyota Auris Touring Sports
No, the Toyota Auris "Touring Sports" (TS) is not a sports car. It is simply the estate car version of the Toyota Auris. The name indicates that the car offers plenty of space, but emphasises that the driving qualities have not been forgotten nonetheless.
Space of an estate
The Touring Sports has the same wheelbase as the regular Auris, the extra space comes from extra overhang behind the rear wheels and a longer roofline. As standard, the Auris station wagon offers 530 litres of luggage space. That's considerably more than the hatchback and a decent value for a car of this size. The extra space hardly benefits the passengers; the (leg) room in the back seat remains poor.
Folding the rear seats increases the boot space to 1,658 litres. Also with that, the Auris scores well. To create extra space, it is enough to pull a lever in the boot; there is no need to remove headrests or fold up seats. This alone makes the Touring Sports more functional in daily use than estate cars, which require complex operations to achieve maximum luggage space.
The hybrid version offers as much cargo space as the regular Auris TS. The only difference is in the storage compartments under the load floor. Only the non-hybrid ones have an extra-wide compartment where the tarpaulin and partition net can be stored.
Unlike most other hybrids, the Auris Touring Sports can be fitted with a tow bar. The maximum trailer weight is 345 kg. This is sufficient for a (very) light trailer or a bicycle carrier.
Up front, the Touring Sports is no different from a regular Auris. The dashboard is slightly less sterile than that of, say, the German competition. Some will regard that as "less", for others it is actually a relief. The dashboard is like a wall in front of the occupants and that too makes the Auris different.
The test car is fitted with a two-tone (grey/cream) interior and it looks particularly good! The deep seat and small, thick steering wheel provide the promised sporty feel.
The Auris' equipment is best described as complete, but not innovative. In other words, the Auris offers everything that can be expected from a car in this price range, but nothing more than that. Particularly when it comes to safety, Toyota is conservative; the Auris does not watch along with the driver, does not read traffic signs and does not warn of approaching danger. However, the Auris does park automatically and reversing is made easier with a reversing camera (depending on the trim level).
Hybrid = petrol + electric
The Auris is available with traditional petrol and diesel engines, but owes its success mainly to the hybrid engine. By using an electric motor in the city and a petrol engine on the highway, fuel consumption is much lower than in a traditional car. Unlike an all-electric car, the Auris Hybrid never needs to be charged at a socket. In fact, during braking and coasting, energy is recovered that can later be used to power the electric motor.
To make the driver's life even easier, the Auris Hybrid comes with an automatic gearbox as standard. Moreover, the computer determines when which engine (or combination of engines) is used. However, the driver can give a hint at the push of a button. In "eco" mode, energy is saved at the expense of performance. In "power" mode, the petrol engine and electric motor join forces for maximum performance. Finally, there is an "EV" mode, in which the Auris Hybrid can drive entirely electric over a distance of about 3 km and at a maximum speed of 50 km/h.
In practice, the hybrid drive works extremely well. It is hardly noticeable when which engine is engaged. However, it does take some sense of engineering to handle the accelerator pedal in such a way that the continuously variable transmission ("CVT") does its job imperceptibly. When driven too bluntly, the electronics continuously "search" for the ideal gear ratio and this can be restless and/or produce a nagging noise.
Toyota's promised fuel consumption of 3.6 litres per 100 km is mainly to please the tax authorities. In practice, it can only be achieved when the accelerator is lightly touched and the maximum speed does not exceed 80 km/h. More realistic is an average consumption of around 5 litres per 100 km, comparable to that of a tiny city car.
Besides the hybrid engine, the Auris is also available with traditional engines. For comparison, the 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine was also driven. This "Valvetronic" is an old acquaintance of Toyota, but has been revisited and refreshed for the Auris. The result: on the open road, the regular Auris is at least as quiet as the Hybrid!
As long as the power source is kept at revs, a wonderful reserve is available and then the "Auris 1.6 Valvematic" performs with surprising ease.
At low revs, the power source will never protest, but sprint power is minimal. Then it lacks the push that is given by the electric motor in the hybrid version. Nevertheless, with the traditional engine it is easier to achieve the fuel consumption specified by Toyota. According to the brochure, the Auris 1.6 consumes an average of 6.1 litres per 100 km; during the test drive, 6.5 litres per 100 km was shown on the trip computer without much effort.
Taking into account its higher weight and changed centre of gravity, the Auris' chassis has been modified for the estate car. The result is accordingly: regardless of the engine, the Auris steers just fine. Initially, the Auris is primarily a reserved car that tries to impose itself on the driver as little as possible.
It is only when driving faster and cornering smoothly that the Auris comes alive. Then it is noticeable how beautifully balanced the suspension is and how much grip the tyres have.
In tough economic times, car buyers look for certainty. That is why Toyota is doing well. The Toyota Auris combines familiar design with modern technology. The Auris is in no way inferior to the competition, but offers plenty of financial benefits, which is exactly what buyers are looking for.
To better suit the needs of business drivers and large families, the Auris now also comes as an estate car. The "Touring Sports" offers more practicality than the regular Auris, without adding any drawbacks.
- Decent handling
- Spacious and practical
- Only hybrid of its kind
- Not as economical as promised
- Little focus on active safety
- Luggage compartment cover does not move back by itself