As my local dealer could not provide me with an "Ice Blue" Toyota Auris 1.6 RS, I was resigned top obtaining one from the dealer in Oudtshoorn. This ensured me a nice first "test" drive in my new Auris from Oudsthoorn along the garden route back to my home town, Uitenhage.
From the front the resemblance with the Yaris is evident. However, the wide hips at the rear, more raked windscreen and neat 16-inch alloy wheels give the Auris a sporty look.
At least it has more modern lines and looks than some other boring-looking German hatches. The exterior fitment and paintwork is of a very good quality, too.
What first catches the eye in the new cabin is the "bridged" centre console with the gearlever placed higher up as one would have become accustomed to.
But drive the car more often and you soon realise the eleveated position is much easier to reach than the "normal" position. This also makes one wonder why gear levers have been placed lower down in the first place.
The new facia is neat and well laid out, and overall fit and finish is of a high quality. The only thing that I do not like is the big red hazards light knob on the dash's centre console. It is much too prominent, and stands out like a big pimple on one's forehead.
The instruments, with a 3D-effect, are clear and easy to reach and the intensity of the light can also be adjusted to suit individual taste.
The audio system with six-CD changer/MP3 and six speakers has excellent sound and it continues to impress me.
With the rake-and-reach adjustable leather steering wheel I could easily found a comfortable driving position.
The car's interior space impressed me, which is more than in much larger cars. In fact everybody that has had a look at the car has applauded the spaciousness on the inside. Driving the Auris makes me feel as though I'm in a much bigger and more luxurious car.
However, regarding the interior, my one criticism is that the plastic used for the rear of the centre console, between the two front seats, is easily scuffed by the shoes of rear occupants.
Engine is a find
The gem of this car is the new 1.6 dual VVTi engine with an output of 91 kW. This engine feels stronger, smoother and is much quieter than the previous version. In my opinion it is the best 1.6-litre motor on the market, today.
What also impresses me is the lack deafening of engine, road and wind noise make for excellent NVH scores in this segment.
The car feels solid and handles like a dream. The Auris may not be the fastest around a race track, but for everyday driving the road holding and driving comfort is excellent and it is a car which you want to take for long drives through our beautiful country.
Currently the average fuel consumption of the RS is between 8.1 -8.5 l/100km.
In short, the Auris does everything it was designed to do, with distinction. However, if the name Auris is derived from Greek aurum (or gold), why is it not available in that colour?
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