FAMILIARITY BUT NOT CONTEMPT FROM TOYOTA AURIS
TOYOTA has adopted a conservative approach to its Auris hatchback, the replacement for the Corolla.
That was the world's best selling name badge with tens of millions being sold over various generations of the Corolla stretching back to the original in the 1960s.
You might ask why Toyota has decided to ditch such a well known name but it wanted to signify a clear break between the old and the new with this car.
Odd then that the two look so similar. To the man in the street the Auris is pretty much identical to the Corolla and the cars feel rather familiar too.
I had a long term loan from Toyota, a 2.0 diesel, and over the miles I came to admire its many qualities.
The Toyota badge is as good a guarantee as you are going to get of unimpeachable build quality and reliability and certainly the Auris feels solid. The only question mark in this respect is the slightly flimsy plastic tunnel sprouting from the dashboard which houses the gearlever and handbrake.
There is a little storage space behind it, similar to those you find in some of the latest Volvos but just as with those cars, I find this slightly cumbersome to use and think it has been done more in the interests of style than practicality.
The Auris has a useful increase in the amount of interior room relative to the Corolla, especially so in the back, and the driving environment is quite pleasant.
On the road, the diesel is as frugal as you would expect and I returned an easy 50 mpg. My car had a `shift' light indicating when you should change up or down to keep the engine at its most efficient speed.
One of its strong points is the ride which is very good, nice and smooth and helps make the Auris an excellent motorway cruiser. Time and again I would undertake a lengthy, rather gruelling trip and remark how good the Toyota is in this respect.
It is an unobtrusive car, not one that really stands out from the crowd but that should not detract from its virtues.
Its build quality is impeccable, progress is economical, smooth and effortless and for many that is all that they look for in a family hatchback. Hard to argue with that.
As I said, the Auris does look and feel very familiar to the Corolla - but in this case, it is not a familiarity that breeds contempt.