The UK-manufactured Auris is available in Europe in hatchback and estate bodystyles. At the Burnaston manufacturing site it shares a production line with Avensis. Auris deliveries start in September.

The UK-manufactured Auris is available in Europe in hatchback and estate bodystyles. At the Burnaston manufacturing site it shares a production line with Avensis. Auris deliveries start in September.

Toyota has added a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine to its revised Auris model. The company says the new four-cylinder direct injection unit delivers performance similar to that of a 1.6-litre engine but with much lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The new engine is the major news in the mid-cycle facelift and revision to Toyota's Auris range, although there are a number of styling and other tweaks to freshen the brand's C-segment offering.

Europe is the key market for the Auris - a model conceived and designed since generation one with European consumers firmly in mind. Toyota is hoping that the new small engine will help to lift Auris range sales across the region to around 147,000 units in 2016 (first full year of sales for the revised model), which would represent a volume gain of 5% on 2014.

Around 50% of Auris sales in Europe are accounted for by the petrol-electric hybrid model, something which Toyota sees as key to building overall share (Auris share is put at 5.9% of Europe's C-segment in 2014) and gaining conquest sales from other brands. The gorillas in Europe's C-segment jungle are the VW Golf, Ford Focus and Opel/Vauxhall Astra. By comparison, Toyota is a relatively small player and appears to have modest ambitions to gently increase its share and improve the brand's position and image in a regional market it sees as strategically highly significant. The effort Toyota is making with developing its conventional engines for European consumers is indicative of this.

Toshio Kanei, Auris Project Director, told just-auto that the company's investment in new and improved powertrain units demonstrates Toyota's commitment to the European region. "When you look at markets and regions around the world, Europe is undoubtedly a very tough market," he acknowledges. "It is highly competitive and the customers in the region are extremely demanding. However, for us, it is also very important. If we can do well in Europe with the right products, that is very good for Toyota's competitive position globally. Therefore, Europe is a vital region for us."

"And Auris has an increasing global relevance for Toyota," he adds. "We sell it mainly in Europe, Japan and Australia, but we have considered the possibility of new markets for this car, including marketing it in the USA as the Scion iM, with cars built in Japan."

The new 1.2-litre petrol engine in the Auris for Europe is part of a programme of 14 new engine introductions Toyota says it is making globally between April 2014 and the end of this year. The technical refinements to eke out powertrain performance gains are impressive. The 1.2 engine (it joins the 1.33-litre petrol engine in the Auris petrol line-up) includes a number of advanced technologies including direct injection, enhanced intelligent variable valve timing, a lightweight valve train and a variable control oil jet system. Toyota says the technologies enable higher torque and power output at low engine speeds. Compared to Toyota's 1.6-litre unit, the 1.2-litre offers a claimed better performance in terms of acceleration and flexibility but with a 29g/km reduction in average CO2 emissions, Toyota says.

The small displacement engine is also able to switch between different operating cycles to achieve optimum efficiency or performance, according to driving conditions. Toyota says it can achieve a combined fuel cycle fuel economy of 60.1mpg along with 0-62mph acceleration in 10.1 seconds and average CO2 of just 109g/km.

As part of the Auris range revisions, Toyota has also uprated its 1.4-litre diesel and added a 1.6-litre diesel (1.6D-4D) that replaces a 2.0-litre diesel made available in some markets. The 1.4-litre diesel (1.4D-4D) has been upgraded to comply with Euro 6 emission regulations (which all engines in the Auris range now meet).

Toyota also says that the revised Auris comes with some refreshed exterior styling - a new-look front and rear. LED daytime running lights have also been added. The rear lamp clusters use LED light guide technology to give Auris a distinctive lighting signature.

Inside the car, Toyota says it has made a number of changes to raise perceived quality. There is a redesigned dashboard (commendably minimalist in approach) and a new 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-information screen is available.

The 2015 Auris range also benefits from suspension and steering revisions to improve ride, handling and "driver involvement" (eg, more steering feedback). Steps have also been taken to reduce NVH, too.

On the active safety front, Toyota is introducing a range of safety features as part of its Toyota Safety Sense package. All Auris models equipped with the Toyota Safety Sense option will feature a pre-collision system, lane departure alert, automatic high-beam lighting and a road sign assist system. Toyota says that by the end of this year up to 70% of its European Toyota customers will be able to spec their car with the Toyota Safety Sense package, which it says amounts to 'democratising safety'.

Toyota's approach with the Auris has been to make a large number of significant revisions to improve all areas of the product. The new small petrol engine offered may be the main ostensible change, but there are lots of other relatively minor things that all add up (including the range of advanced technologies included in the latest Toyota conventional powertrains). One small example is a new start control that has been developed to ensure quick and smooth engine restart. When the system shuts down the engine, it controls the stop position to leave the piston half-way in the compression stroke. On restart, it applies stratified injection in the first compressed cylinder to counter vibrations. And by retarding the ignition, torque increase is kept in check, preventing excessive engine revving. That, Toyota maintains, ensures a calm and confident take-off. Calm and confident? Auris is perhaps not a car to set the pulse racing, but Toyota customers in the mainstream C-segment will likely be impressed with a range of solid improvements that reinforce a calm and confident Auris experience. An improved conventional powertrain offering could be the key to getting more Europeans in mainstream volume segments to consider a Toyota. And, ultimately, that could also lead more Europeans in the direction of Toyota's hybrids (particularly if Europe's regulatory environment for diesels becomes less accommodating).

On-the-road prices for the revised Auris in the UK start from GBP15,245. All European market models are supplied from Toyota's Burnaston, UK, production plant. 

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