Toyota Auris hatchback – the ‘smart one’

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Touted as the smartest hatch on the market, the refreshed 2015 Auris range makes its southern African debut this month.

Decidedly piquant exterior styling, coupled with a revamped ‘superfine’ cabin and a driving experience that is palpably more focused than its predecessor, mean that the new Auris is a head-turning car that’s just as comfortable tackling the twisties, as it is taking on the might of the school run.

The new Auris gets a comprehensive ‘top ‘n tail’ to give it an arresting look up front as well as a pert new rear end. These changes give the Auris a more hunkered down, masculine demeanor. A point of interest is that the Auris is one of the lowest cars in its class. This translates to a low-slung driving position, which makes the driver feel closer and more connected to the road.

Zooming in on the front design, a pair of chrome ‘wings’ emerges from a new, more prominent Toyota emblem set in a thinner upper grille. These ‘wings’ underscore the front lip of the bonnet, running the full width of the car and encapsulating the crisply angled inside edge of the sharp-eyed headlamp clusters.

The lower grille, set beneath a more prominent front bumper, now runs the full width of the car. It has a narrow centre section, framed by a chrome accent strip which widens into deep pods housing integrated fog lights, at the furthest edges of the new design.

In profile the new front and rear styling generate longer overhangs, improving the overall balance of the design and leading the eye in a sweeping line from the front Toyota emblem to the rear lamp cluster. A new shark fin roof antenna and turbine-inspired 16-inch alloy wheel designs add further impact.

To the rear, the lower half of the car has been completely redesigned, again to add visual emphasis to the vehicle’s broad stance. The width of the deeper, more muscular bumper design is amplified by the location of reflector housings at the furthest edges and by thin chrome trim line. The rear lamp clusters have also been redesigned, giving Auris its own, distinctive lighting signature.

On board, the sensory quality of the cabin has been significantly raised with a redesigned more curvaceous dashboard boasting soft-touch quality trims and surface finishes as well as a new central, tablet-inspired audio visual display panel. Featuring electrostatic (touch-sensitive) switchgear – a first in terms of technology advancement for Toyota – the touch screen panel offers CD/DVD, Radio (FM/AM) and Bluetooth/AUX/USB functionality as well as a host of other on-board functions including a reverse camera with guide lines.

The driver’s instrument binnacle has a stronger, more sporting design with tubed tachometer and speedometer dials either side of a new 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-information screen.

The new Auris range benefits from further suspension and steering revisions designed to improve ride comfort and handling. Components in the MacPherson strut front suspension have been revised, including the design of the coil springs, shock absorbers, upper insulators, bound stoppers and stabiliser bushes. In combination, the changes to the suspension improve initial roll damping, minimise friction and amplify straight-line ride comfort.

In addition, the electric power steering system’s mapping has been tuned to further build steering weight as vehicle speed rises, giving better feedback between 60 and 80km/h.

Soundproofing has been improved by adding additional sound-absorbing materials in strategic locations around the instrument panel and transmission tunnel. An outer tunnel silencer has been added to minimise transmission noise.

Additional sealing in the front wing, dashboard and door area further cuts the amount of engine, road and wind noise reaching the cabin.

The new Auris is priced between N$223,700 and N$301,700 with a three-year/100 000 km warranty. All Auris models come standard with a five-year/ 90 000 km service plan.

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