When I was handed the key to the Toyota Auris six months ago, it was accompanied by the words “it’s the automotive equivalent of white goods”.
At the time I thought this was a bit harsh, but took this to mean reliable and sensible, while performing a function without ever providing any excitement, whatsoever.
And now the time has come to say goodbye to the hatchback – 7,852 miles later – I stand by my initial feeling that this description was unfair.
It is true that neither its looks nor driving experience will set pulses racing, but as daily transport it’s hard to fault.
It’s well-built, spacious, practical, comfortable, economical, and so easy to live with that you can’t help but take it for granted – like an old friend who you know will never let you down.
In its time with Fleet News it has proved an able and comfortable car, whatever has been thrown at it: from long trips on the Continent, to shorter journeys carry ing four passengers or awk– ward loads.
And there are times when I’ve been genuinely pleased to see it in the car park because of its relaxed road manners – particularly when faced with a long, late-night journey home.
The interior won plenty of fans too, with its generous amount of space, while the flat floor in the back meant the Auris could transport five adults in comfort without those in the rear fighting over foot space.
The raised gearshift and handbrake column, together with the funky Optitron instrument panel, shows that Toyota had made a real effort to modernise the interior, which has shown no signs of wear and tear.
Unfortunately, one area in which the Auris did fall short was in its bid to appeal to a younger market – not helped by its anonymous exterior styling.
When Toyota announced the Auris as the Corolla replacement, it hoped the change in name would also widen its appeal from its traditional hatchback buyer – aged 60 – to 30-something professionals.
But following a vox pop of some potential buyers, it failed to get a resounding thumbs-up, partly due to its indistinct looks.
However, financially it makes a lot of sense. CAP estimates our car will retain 40% of its cost new after three years and 60,000 miles – a figure that puts rivals such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra in the shade, although it still trails the Volkswagen Golf.
Drivers will also like the Auris’s monthly benefit-in-kind tax of £51 and economy which has consistently hovered around the 50mpg mark – just under Toyota’s claimed average of 52.3mpg.
There can be no argument about the car’s all-round competency but its success will depend on whether drivers choose cars with their heart or their head.
Those looking for a bit of pizzazz will probably look elsewhere, but the smarter cookies would do well to consider the Auris.
Price: £15,595 (£15,920 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 144
Company car tax bill (2007) 22% tax-payer: £51 per month
Insurance group: 6E
Combined mpg: 52.3
Test mpg: 50.3
CAP Monitor RV: £6,175/40%
Contract hire rate: £321
Total expenditure: Nil