Auris – listening to what customers want

 

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The first impression

I love how car companies name their cars!

 

Auris, what’s that? According to Google, Auris, means "gold" or "ear" in Latin. It can also refer to any of the following: Auris, Isère, a town in France; a snail; a type of Toyota or an ear. It is a mixed bunch of meanings, to say the least, but I think the Auris embodies more than “a type of Toyota”.

 

Let me elaborate: the new Auris is remarkably different from the car it replaces- though not overtly so, but rather in the overall enhanced looks and finer details. It’s new and most certainly improved. The exterior styling is sharp and the lines of the Auris are bold - especially for a Toyota. In fact, is has the flair of a French car. Thankfully, Toyota has taken this self-assured design approach with the styling of its compact family hatch, with some other examples from the brand coming across bland.  The interior hasn’t been neglected either - its high-quality and tech laden - the symbiotic relationship between interior and exterior is harmonious, doing the Auris justice.

Glenn Crompton, Vice President of Marketing for Toyota South Africa, points out, “The Auris customer is seeking a balance between rational and emotional needs - on the one hand they need a safe, practical and economical vehicle, however, they also want a vehicle that excites and creates an emotional connection…” Well, I think Toyota have done just that! The new Auris is possibly the sexiest car in Toyota’s range, bar the 86 sports coupe. It is safe - having seven airbags, ABS brakes and a top rated crash test. Being a well sized family hatch, it’s endowed with generous room for five adults and their paraphernalia in the boot, and a Grande take away coffee cup in the car’s cup holders. Therefore, Toyota have used their ears - listing to what their customers want and need.

On the road

Although sporty to look at, the Auris has more sensibility than boy racer bravado! The Auris is fitted with a 1.3, 1.6 or 1.8 hybrid engine - all practical workhorses that promise good fuel economy.

On review, the 1.6 Rx model, which was delivered in metallic citrus - a bright metallic yellow with a splash of lime. Rs and higher spec’ed Rx models represent the higher end of the Auris’ spectrum and are adorned with a host of nice to have mod cons: front fog lamps, piano black gloss finish for the grille and rear bumper with chrome trim accents, reverse camera with guidelines, six speaker sound system and vanity mirror lamps.

 

Rx models also feature comfortable leather clad seats that are heated and smell deliciously luxurious. The full house spec of the Rx models include niceties such as: auto lights, electro chromatic (anti-daze) rear-view mirror, colour TFT multi-information display, cruise control, smart entry and push start technology, electronic dual-zone climate control, curtain airbags and a driver’s knee bag.

Looking at the Auris, my expectations were high, but initially I felt underwhelmed. Although the 1.6 engine offers decent power (97kW), it’s a sizable hatch and this means it’s heavy! The engine though refined, did labour while getting the Auris up to speed. If driven more sedately, its abilities and related fuel consumption figures are fair.

The ride of the car has been designed towards comfort. Having just come out of a Peugeot 308, which is a competitor, and by natural comparison, the ride is softer and more relaxed in the Auris, while the 308 offers greater levels of involvement and feels sportier as a result.

Steering, breaking and gear changes through the 6-speed manual gearbox are all honed and feel like good quality. Toyota has lifted the vain on Asian refinement - the Auris feels well-made and is a pleasure to drive. After a week with the Auris I better understood its purpose, and to whom it was targeted. This Toyota may look funky but it has been designed to be a jack of all trades. It’s a family car - created to run around the cities and take you on almost any journey, all the while remaining economical and reliable. Though it doesn’t excel, nor does it waver either - it’s like a good friend of many years: consistent.

 

What I liked

  • The styling of the car.
  • The quality of the interior.
  • The interior smell.
  • The refinement of the ride.
  • Good quality sound from the 6-speaker sound system.

 

What I’m not mad about

  • Underpowered 1.6 engine.
  • I would have liked an automatic hill hold function, preventing backward rolling on inclines.

 

The figures

The extra stuff

The new Auris benefits from a three year/100 000km warranty. All Auris models come standard with a five year/ 90 000km service plan. The new models are also supported by the ToyotaCare Roadside Assistance Programme, which entitles customers to 24 hour roadside assistance, ensuring ultimate “peace-of-mind” motoring.

Safety first, the Auris scored five stars in the European crash test, EuroNCAP.

 

The verdict

It is a “dog-eat-dog” world out there - life is tough and so is the competition. Toyota for many years has led the sales charts due to outstanding reliability, good products and low levels of competition.

Well, life changes - now more than ever lies a bevy of competition, and this competition also makes good product that’s reliable too!

So would I buy an Auris, considering its new looks, stylish interior and comforting ride, I’d be silly not to choose a car that reminds me of a good friend - it’s like gold!

www.toyota.co.za

 

 

 

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