Toyota SA vice president of marketing Glenn Crompton explains that “in design and engineering terms, a key priority for the new Yaris was to develop a stronger emotional appeal for those who want to feel more connected to their car through the way it looks, the way it feels and, of course, the way it drives”.
Marketing folk are, of course, paid to make us want things we otherwise might not, but in the case of the new Auris I would say Toyota have largely built what they set out to.
Both the inside and outside have been made far more appealing and the Auris also sits low on the road, giving it an altogether less ‘mom’s car’ character than before.
The powertrains remain the same so the changes are chiefly aesthetic. Zooming in on the front, 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 (from Xs model upwards) at the furthest edges of the new design.
In profile, the new front and rear styling generate longer overhangs and there is 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, beefier bumper design is amplified by the location of reflector housings at the furthest edges and by a thin chrome trim line.
From Xs model upwards, the exterior grille and bumper finishes get an extra flourish, courtesy of glossy piano black finishes and chrome trim.
Two new exterior colours have been added – citrus metallic (a chartreuse hue) and blue metallic (royal blue in intensity).
Inside, the cabin has been significantly improved to make for a space I found rather pleasant. A more curvaceous dashboard boasts soft-touch quality trims and surface finishes as well as a new central, tablet-inspired audio visual display panel, which comes standard on all models from the Xs grade upwards.
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 guidelines.
The driver’s instrument binnacle has a stronger, more sport oriented design, with tubed tachometer and speedometer dials on either side of a new 4.2 inch colour TFT multi-information screen (Xr models only).
In addition, many details, such as the air vents, door handles and gear lever surround, have been reworked to give a crisper, high-quality appearance. The shape and finish of chrome trim features have been harmonised and a new set of upholstery designs, including leather for the Xr, complete the more premium quality cabin environment.
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 three powertrains start with the 1.3-litre petrol producing 73kW and 128Nm and propelling the Auris 1.3 from 0-100km/h in 12,6 seconds and on to a maximum speed of 175km/h. Fuel consumption is pegged at 5.8 litres/100km for the combined cycle.
The 1.6 litre petrol produces 97kW and 160Nm and dispatching the 0-100km/h sprint in 10 seconds. Top speed is clocked at 200km/h. The 1.6 manual consumes an average of 6.2 litres/100km in the combined cycle. The 1.6 CVT is said to be even more economical, averaging just 6.0 litres/100km.
The 1.8 Hybrid will be available only in September.
Entry-grade models (X and Xi) are available on 1.3 and 1.6-litre engines. Bluetooth has been added to this spec level. Other spec highlights include Follow-me-home headlights, shark fin antenna, leather gear lever and steering wheel, electric power steering, air conditioner, dual front and side airbags, remote central locking, ABS with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), seatbelt warning for all occupants, RDS audio four-speaker system and electric windows with Driver One-Touch and steering switches. The X model is shod with 15 inch steel wheels. The Xi model is equipped with 16 inch alloys.
The mid-grade model (Xs) is only available with the 1.6 litre engine. This variant is now also equipped with the all-new disc play audio featuring electrostatic switchgear.
Over and above the entry grade models, the Xs also features 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, vanity mirror lamps and Sport fabric upholstery.
The High grade models (Xr) are available on the 1.6 manual and CVT as well as the Hybrid Derivative. This model comes with full-house spec including niceties such as auto lights, electrochromatic rearview 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 kneebag.
The new Auris comes with a three-year/100 000km warranty and a five-year/90000km service plan. The new models are also supported by the ToyotaCare Roadside Assistance Programme, which entitles customers to 24-hour roadside assistance.