Following on from the latest-generation Auris hatchback, Toyota has expanded its line-up of mid-range models with a load-lugging version of the practical hatch. Unusually for the normally conservative Toyota, the firm has gone down the radical, edgy route for the Auris family’s styling, although its looks hide an equally bold engine strategy.
Like the Auris hatch, this estate, or to give it its proper name the Touring Sports, it can be had in petrol, diesel and petrol-electric hybrid guise. According to Toyota, its Auris estate is the first of its type to market with a hybrid powertrain. Predictably, this should open up the market to buyers seeking low consumption and emissions alongside a more practical body style.
It might mirror the hatch at the front, but move away from the Touring Sport’s aggressively styled nose and you’ll spot the practical roof rails and the estate’s extra length. There’s also a racy-looking spoiler to help streamline the car’s progress through the air, while a tailgate that opens at bumper level to aid the passage of large or heavy items is another useful touch.
Peek inside the Touring Sport’s rear compartment and, with the back seats folded, you’re presented with a flat load bay. Granted, this is nothing new for most modern estate cars, but even the hybrid variant of the Auris wagon boasts a no-compromise rear deck thanks to some clever packaging of the battery system.
The 530- and 1,658-litre capacity with the seats up and down respectively also does much to boost the car’s practical appeal.
Inside the cabin it’s largely the same as the Auris hatch, right down to the wheelbase measurements. The result is a surprisingly spacious interior as compact family cars go, with enough room fore and aft plus impressive headroom in the back.
But it’s how this Auris performs on the road that will be important for most buyers, particularly those with a keen eye on saving money. The petrol variants — 1.3- and 1.6-litre — have been tuned to deliver high levels of refinement when driven in the relaxed style that’s often associated with Toyota’s conservative approach to car set-up. Certainly, that’s the case with the 130bhp 1.6-litre engine, which only becomes vocal when pushed hard, while the plush ride ensures cabin comfort levels are high.
The hybrid model follows the now familiar template of 1.8-litre petrol engine, battery pack and electric motor — delivering a combined power output of 134bhp in this case. Of greater importance to those with an environmental leaning will be the baseline 85g/km CO2 rating and 3.0 litres-per-100km official combined consumption figure when fitted with 15in wheels. The numbers are a fraction higher with 17 inchers.
On the road the hybrid-badged Auris estate delivers a pleasingly refined driving experience and, predictably, apes that of the Prius. Electric mode is as you’d expect, and does much to reduce fuel consumption at low speeds and boosts the performance of the petrol motor under hard acceleration. The automatic transmission’s smooth operation rounds off the Touring’s ease of use character.
Just like the petrol variants, the hybrid Touring Sport’s ride and overall comfort levels are polished enough to compete with conventional rivals. This is especially true when running in electric-only mode. The upmarket ambience mirrors the equipment list, which is up to Toyota’s usual generosity.
The model range boasts a high level of safety and comfort kit as standard, while moving up the trim levels buyers can expect to see a touchscreen multimedia interface, leather trim and alloy wheels, bluetooth, DAB radio and a reversing parking camera.
Well-equipped, stylish, practical and easy to drive, Toyota’s Auris Touring Sports is a welcome addition to the Auris fleet. Offering a practical load space and, in hybrid guise, the potential to reduce running costs to levels below that of the competition, it’s a car you ignore at your peril.