Toyota's 'new' Auris shows why petrol can make a comeback
First Drive... in Brussels
THERE'S a general consensus that, after a decade of near-complete diesel domination, petrol cars are going to start making a comeback.
If that's going to happen, it's going to be led by engines such as Toyota's new 1.2T.
The 4cyl direct injection turbocharged engine is one of the highlights of a significantly revised Auris which has just gone on sale here.
The visual updates may be relatively subtle, but there's no doubt a lot of effort has been expended on Toyota's best-selling hatchback and estate a better all-rounder than before.
The external changes (headlamp, grille) sharpen the front and new LED lights and redesigned lower bumper cater for an improved-looking back.
Inside the cabin a large (7ins) integrated touch screen with a piano black finish is probably one of the best units of its kind available, while the instrument panel, air con switches and air vents are also redesigned.
Certainly in higher trim models, which now account for the majority of sales in Ireland, the Auris can match the best of its rivals for quality - not something we would necessarily have said about Toyotas in the past.
Another worthy addition is Toyota Safety Sense featuring a range of technologies to prevent or mitigate accidents.
Sadly though it's only available as a €560 option at present.
Keen drivers will welcome dynamic enhancements including revised electric power steering that offers better feedback and feel, while the more powerful models get double wishbone rear suspension instead of torsion beams.
Back to engines… and first impressions suggest that the new 1.2T unit could become the star of the Auris line-up.
The 116hp unit is peppy and pulls well across the rev range.
It also promises diesel-rivalling emissions and fuel consumption, and may well attract many current diesel drivers back to petrol power.
Expect to pay a €500 premium for the 1.2T over the existing 1.33 litre dual VVT-i.
On the diesel front there's a new BMW sourced 1.6 litre D-4D with 112hp already seen in the Avensis that replaces the old 2.0 litre unit, while the 90hp 1.4 d-4D is cleaner and more economical.
There's a renewed focus also on the Auris Hybrid. Accounting for more than half of all sales in Europe, Toyota here expect nearly-one-in-five Auris models sold next year will be a hybrid.
A price adjustment and realignment of trims to match the regular car means that there is now an average €1,290 step-up from an equivalent diesel - previously that was more than €4,500.
Trim levels for regular models have been upped, with petrol prices starting from €20,750, and €22,250 for diesel models. The volume seller, the 1.4 D-4D in Luna trim is priced at €24,600.
All together, the revisions and changes add up to a significantly improved car putting the Auris right back in contention against the best of its rivals.