TOYOTA AURIS: The memory lingers on

BACK in the days when I first started road testing cars, there was one that stood out like a beacon when it came to reliability – and let’s face it, 30 odd years ago cars were NOT that reliable.

Toyota’s Corolla was the car the world bought because while it was hardly likely to raise your blood pressure or bring out beads of sweat on your forehead, you knew it would always get you home. Without fail.

My first testing trip abroad was courtesy of a new version of the Corolla, and while its name has been consigned to the archives, its memory lives on in the 21st century Auris, Toyota’s latest family/compact car rival.

Only it’s not as dull as ditchwater any more. Auris has a sparkle missing from Toyota’s hatch range for a few years, the new contemporary styling giving it a revitalised dose of desirability and respectability, to the point when people actually stop you and ask what it’s like. No longer is it dismissed as just another dull hatchback, worthy of no more than a passing glance. Now, it looks the part. And plays it too.

I was tempted to dub it the ‘Aero’ car because everything is just so light – the steering, the gears, the clutch, the throttle, even the brakes apply without any fuss whatsoever and without threatening to leave a webbed pattern across your chest. And because of all those components working together in perfect harmony, you could, if you needed to, drive the Auris all day long without expending an ounce of wasted effort.

It’s an incredibly relaxing car to drive and when a car is working this well it makes you wonder why people get all angry and irate behind the wheel.

So, we’ve established that the Corolla of the 21st century emits positive vibes, in a world where calmness isn’t top of the agenda.

What we can also tuck up in bed are three of its core attributes from the past – comfort, economy, reliability. Still very much in evidence, along with more than enough room for the clutter you inevitably collect.

The dashboard probably won’t excite you but it is clear and functional. With no unnecessary curves and swoops to attract your eye, it sweeps from one side to the other, gathering together all the switches, buttons and dials in tidy groups, and with a central speedo flanked by two smaller gauges.

Subtle blue backlighting is restful to the eyes at night, a refreshing change from the now almost obligatory red on black which tests the sharpness of your eyeballs to the limit.

Neat exterior touch on the Sports model is the dark panel set low across the rear of the Auris, complemented by the dark privacy glass on the rear windows.

Auris is available in four grades – Active, Icon, Sport and Excel – and standard features on all models include seven airbags, air conditioning, follow me home headlights, Hill-Start Assist Control, Vehicle Stability Control and LED daytime running lights.

You can opt for Toyota’s excellent Touch and Go multimedia system (it was fitted here) with full map navigation and access to online content and applications.

Well put together by the boys and girls at Toyota’s Derbyshire plant, Auris is an attractive proposition for downsizers or anyone looking for hatchback with what is a surprisingly quiet cabin.

FASTFACTS: Toyoya Auris Sports 1.6 5 door manual; £18,245; 1598cc 4 cylinder 16 valve DOHC VVT-I, 130bhp, 160Nm torque; six speed manual gearbox; Top speed 124mph, 0-62mph 10 secs; Fuel – urban 35.8, extra urban 56.5, combined 46.3; CO2 140g/km; will it fit the garage? – 4275/1760/1460 (l/w/h); 5 year/100,000 mile warranty.

© Wheelwrite 2013

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