Plus ca change in Auris makeover
TOYOTA has an intriguingly self-deprecating way of telling you that a car has been updated and given a bit of a makeover.
The company announces it as a "minor change". This can mean anything from new engines to "chrome trim on in-dash cup-holders".
Normally I don't take much notice of these mid-life changes, as I am too preoccupied with working through my own crisis. But this year, for obvious reasons, I am keen to see what Toyota is up to.
Last year, I was mightily impressed with the iQ, Toyota's pocket rocket which has big-car driving attributes in a bite-sized body. It showed that the intelligent thinking in the company has some really good design elements in it.
Last week I drove the "minor change" Auris 1.33 five-door, petrol hatchback, which in the very well-specced Luna grade sells for €21,485. It was the first Toyota I have driven since the recall crisis. When you sit in a Toyota, you can only marvel at the build quality. It might verge on blandness but you cannot fault the general feel of the vehicles.
So it was with the new Auris. Not exciting, but solid and seemingly dependable.
The main improvements in this Auris were engine innovations called Advanced Toyota Optimal Drive, which allow you to drive 17 per cent further on the same amount of fuel as the previous 1.4 unit.
There's stop/start technology and a wider ratio six-speed manual gearbox. Lower emissions (€156 road tax band) and quieter cruising are two of the main benefits in addition to the extra 135km claimed per tank. I didn't like the Auris as much as the VW Golf but it was an attractive package.