Generally the Auris is a good car. Toyota have gone for a model that is more comfort orientated than many competing designs (Focus, Golf, etc), and it has plenty of internal space.
For a brand as quality conscious as Toyota, the dashboard and switchgear feels very low rent, especially compared to a VW.
The Auris also seems to have a longer wheelbase than cars like the Golf, and combined with the lowered stance of the SR model, together with what is pretty soft suspension for a supposed 'sports' model like the SR180, means that it tends to ground out very frequently when driving over even modest speed bumps and the like, unless you take them *very* slowly.
The ride is very good, and ultimately the road-holding seems reasonable too, but the way the suspension and steering have been engineered mean that this is far from a driver's car; the steering is very soft and the nose always seems to want to push wide in slower corners. If you persist in hustling it through a bend or roundabout, it holds on, but does not feel comfortable in the same way a Golf or Focus does.
The great thing about this car however is the engine. It is one of the smoothest diesels I have tried, and has fantastic low-end and mid-range grunt. The power delivery stays constant through the whole band though, so there is no 'shove' as you expect from a VW or Audi TDI for example. For that reason it initially feels quite slow, until you realise quite how quickly you are going. First and second gears feel a little bit short, but from third gear onwards, the car really puts the hammer down, and is a fantastic motorway car with brilliant overtaking ability. There is very little noise for a diesel, and what noise there is is mostly turbo 'woosh' rather than combustion noise. It is astonishingly quiet and smooth compared to almost any other four cylinder diesel; makes a VAG TDI feel like an actual tractor!
Unfortunately, Toyota spent a lot of time making this engine very 'clean', so it has low NOX emissions, almost the lowest for any diesel. This is partially achieved by aggressive exhaust gas recirculation. I say 'unfortunately', because this has two downsides.
Firstly the EGR valve seem to be incredibly intrusive at tick over, ruining the quiet, smooth nature of this engine.
Secondly, it cripples the fuel economy. Driving this car at a reasonable motorway speed, I am very lucky to average over 37mpg on a trip. Town driving averages around 25-30mpg. My combined average MPG is probably only 33-35mpg, compared to my previous Golf 2.0TDI 170, which although ultimately a little slower than the Auris on the motorway, used to average a combined MPG of about 43-45mpg. Discussing with other owners of this model, and the results seems to be very similar. Driven exceptionally gently at a constant 50-55mpg, I have managed to average 50mpg, but it is very rare that I drive on such a trip, and driving on the motorway at 55mph is just not realistic. The realistic range on a full tank is only around 360 miles, a good 100-150 miles less than a Golf TDI (which has a slightly bigger fuel tank).
Finally, the trip computer is one of the worst I have ever used. There is no button on the steering wheel or stalk to change the mode, so you have to reach through the steering wheel to cycle computer modes. The range calculations are ridiculous, filling up after a trip where 370 miles was achieved, the trip computer will always state that the range until empty is 280 miles, and the fuel gauge is an electronic bar graph that takes 100-140 miles for the first "eighth" to disappear, then rapidly disappears, with the "low fuel" warning coming on randomly when you have between 15 and 20 miles left (according to the trip computer!).
In summary, the positives of this car are the really very comfortable ride, and the smooth, powerful engine that almost lets you forget it's a diesel on the motorway.
This is let down by the poor switchgear, terrible trip computer, wobbly slow speed cornering, but most of all, the unacceptable fuel consumption!