It wasn’t love at first sight but after six months we’d learned to admire the Toyota

In its six months as part of BusinessCar‘s long-term fleet, our opinion on the Toyota Auris has changed just as much as the weather.

Initial optimism after Toyota’s encouraging noises about the car being a huge step forward from the dull-but-worthy Corolla gave way to disappointment at the lack of emotion or dynamism in the styling or driving experience. But towards the end of its 5000-mile stint with us, those thoughts were replaced by an increasing respect for the things the Auris does well.


I like the cabin, with the ergonomically sound, dash-mounted gear lever [1] creating space for the swooping centre console and unusual, high-mounted handbrake [2]. The instrument panel is classy, too, though the same can’t be said for much of the interior plastics, including the ignition surround that was heavily scratched by errant key stabs. Other plusses included the handy, large twin gloveboxes [3], decent-sized boot, and impressive amounts of rear passenger space.

The Auris’ single most impressive feature is the ride quality, which cossets and comforts, particularly over urban bumps. The relaxing quality is probably unmatched in the volume lower medium segment, and came into its own when the car retrieved three tired, muddy and smelly individuals from a field at the Glastonbury festival and brought them back to London. Light steering and a decent turning circle also contributed to easy urban driving.

The 1.6-litre engine suits the Auris’ character, getting on with the job with minimal fuss. It could do with a sixth gear for motorway work, though, when refinement is compromised by running at higher revs than is ideal. We averaged 31mpg with occasional light-footed delves into the low 40s when out of the city. Whole-life costs provider Topcalc also likes the Auris, rating it a couple of pence per mile lower than the equivalent Focus or Astra on the basis of stronger RVs.

The Auris doesn’t reveal its strengths immediately. It was only after living with it for a while that its comfort, dependability and ease of living –┬áthe only problem we had in six months was a piece of dashboard trim working loose – came to the fore. It’s not the most exciting or inspiring choice, but sometimes the sensible option isn’t necessarily the wrong one.