Does adding more space to the hatchback improve the offering much?
The Toyota Auris we know. A blameless sort of family hatchback that struggles to make a major impact or to have a major identity in a tough sector of the market. Worthy, no doubt, but if you add the words Touring Sports to the name what do you get?
The Touring bit is easy to see, as it is an estate car. The Sports bit? Let’s see. But, again, it’s up against some mighty good competition, everything from the estate versions of the VW Golf to the Skoda Octavia, same as it’s up against their hatchback versions. However, they don’t offer a hybrid version. Could that be a clincher?
Naturally the estate version is longer and heavier than the hatch, but that doesn’t particularly show in its driving dynamics. It’s good that it hasn’t had a detrimental effect on the car, but then again the hatch is a bit of a stodge.
The estate is perfectly safe and predictable, although there’s quite a lot of body roll. You don’t really feel engaged in the process, something the steering fails to add to, but the handling and ride are both pretty steady as she goes.
The models with either the 1.3-litre petrol engine or 1.4-litre diesel engine only get fairly basic suspension so that’s worth bearing in mind when looking at the engine choices.
We’d actually plump for the 1.2-litre petrol engine which might feel a touch underpowered on faster roads but most of the time does a sterling job while delivering decent economy.
The hybrid is obviously quite quick around town and gets off the line fast thanks to the electric motor but that advantage tends to diminish as speeds rise. It’s not that reassuring for overtakes on busy A-roads but it depends on your usage.
On the other hand the diesels feel pretty gutless, from the 1.3-litre to the 1.4-litre or even the 1.6-litre. Even that biggest diesel struggles to match the pace of the 1.2-litre petrol engine so we’d stick with a petrol choice unless you’re doing a lot of solid-state mileage.
If you are doing the miles then you’ll appreciate the comfy seats, which have a decent range of adjustments. What you might not appreciate too much is the slightly restricted vision – although you do get a rear-view camera on all bar the entry model Active. Only the two top trims give you parking sensors as part of the mix though.
We’d choose the trim up from Active, Icon, as that gives you a seven-inch touchscreen along with a DAB radio. It’s not the best touchscreen software but it does work, if a touch slowly. It feels solid enough, much like the rest of the cabin. It feels like everything will last for a long time, although the general mood is one of practical utility rather than elegance and style.
But so far so hatchback. What really matters is what happens behind the seating. There’s decent seating in both the front and rear of the Auris Touring Sports, although the extra length has gone into the boot, rather than into more legroom.
The boot is at least competitively sized, if not up to the level of even the VW Golf Estate let alone the Skoda Octavia Estate. It’s easy to get things in and out thanks to a lack of lip, although the wheelarches intrude more than is ideal.
If you’re tempted by one, you should be able to haggle some decent discounts off a Toyota Auris Touring Sports. You’ll be getting a Toyota, so you’ve got the peace of mind of a five-year/100,000-mile warranty, and that great reputation for reliability. Running costs are sensible, although you may find the real world costs of the hybrid rather disappointing against the claimed figures.
There’s a window in the range where we reckon it’s reasonable value. That’s with the 1.2-litre petrol engine and in Icon trim. Entry level simply doesn’t give you enough to represent value, and further up even though more is added the price rise also makes it poor value.
As in the hatchback sector, Toyota runs up against formidable foes. Even in that Icon trim with the small petrol engine, the Touring Sports is left looking a poor second to the Skoda Octavia Estate which is not only bigger and better, it’s also cheaper.