Launch Drive: Toyota Auris X | Drive Magazine

10 Sep 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Launch Drive: Toyota Auris X | Drive Magazine

Launch Drive: Toyota Auris X

When Toyota launched the Auris in 2007, they hoped it would move the goalposts forward. The Run-X it replaced was a hugely successful model for Toyota, owning 33% of the C-segment hatchback market at the height of its popularity. While Auris was certainly an improved vehicle in many respects, it didn’t have the fun factor associated with the Run-X and sales weren’t entirely at the level Toyota hoped for.

 Enter the 2010 Auris X, launched to the media in the Eastern Cape this week.

Auris X is unique in the sense that South Africa is the only country in the world to market the vehicle as such – just as it was the only country to have a Run-X model. In the UK, from where local Auris models are imported, it’s sold as the Corolla hatch, for example (which is why the Corolla, Auris and Verso is bundled together when sales figures are divulged).

The biggest change from Auris to Auris X lies in its exterior. The front features a new look that puts it more in line with the latest Verso, and I quite like it – it really makes the car look like something completely new. Ditto for the rear, which feature updated taillight clusters and a redesigned bumper.

The changes are subtle (apart from the front) but very effective.

The range sees some more changes under the skin. Toyota’s OptimalDrive Technology is now available across the range, which has also been trimmed to only offer the most popular models from the previous range. The 1.8 has been scrapped completely, while the 1.4 is replaced with a 1.3 (already available in the Corolla).

The new 1.6-litre Valvematic engine now has the highest power output for a naturally aspirated engine in its class in South Africa, while changes has also been made to the 2.0 Diesel engine in preparation of OptimalDrive.

Also new are the model designations with three core specification levels, base, mid, and high, adopted for the new range. The 1.3 derivative is therefore now designated the Auris X, the 1.6 litre base level spec the Auris XI and the mid-grade spec 1.6 the Auris XS. The Auris SportX shares essentially the same specification level as Auris XS model but features a number of accessories in line with its sporty character.

The 2.0 litre D-4D model also shares this mid-grade specification level and is designated Auris XD. The top-of-the-range model, powered by the 1.6 litre petrol engine, is designated Auris XR.

In the interior soft-touch finishes are applied to the glove box and area above the instrument panel, while driver ergonomics are improved by the adoption of a revised square-bottomed shape for the steering wheel. Satellite controls for the audio unit, Bluetooth and Multi-info display are fitted across the range. The position of the handbrake is also revised to a more driver friendly position.

Last, but certainly not least, an external audio connector (USB/AUX) has added inside the glove box to add to driver entertainment.

Toyota allowed us extensive opportunities to test Auris X in conditions that veer towards the extreme. A gymkhana exercise at the Aldo Scribante race track showed of the car’s magnificent composure, and Toyota was very happy to let us know that the Auris… X… has one of the best chassis in the company – which is why the Auris is used in the different national rally championships. (I had the opportunity to go on a rally route with Japie van Niekerk in the Longmore Forest as well, just to again illustrate this point).

The route included choppy tar roads in a state of being repaired, as well as many gravel roads. I drove the 2.0 XD first and was impressed not only with the powerplant, but also with the car’s excellent composure. Very few of the bumps resulted in the occupants being tossed around, and the gravel made absolutely no impact (also proven at Aldo Scribante).

The Sport X was driven next and the more power of the new engine was immediately evident. The only time I really felt that it had less power was one of the steeper parts of our route where we had to gear down, but on the highway-part of the route, and in the city on our way to the airport, it impressed immensely.

The Auris X definitely takes a few strides forward for the Auris range in general and the enhanced aesthetic appeal should do much to – in the very least – get buyers curious. I’m not convinced about the addition of the X, but it’s something I can live with. For a company that everyone expected to be in the doldrums after the recall drama from a few weeks back, Toyota is certainly bouncing back quite nicely.

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