REFERRING to a car as a sound common sense design can sometimes be perceived as condemning it by faint praise, but this is certainly not the case with the Toyota Auris.
Successor to the famous and long-lasting Corolla which was a foundation stone of Japanese car driving in Britain, the Auris is a modern take on the Toyotafundamental of sound, practical build quality and smoothness of driving - with just the right amount of style to impart a feelgood factor every time to get inside.
Revered as one of the UK's most reliable cars, Auris has been restyled inside and out to keep pace with the opposition. Built to a high standard at the company's factory at Burnaston in Derbyshire, the Auris has recently received a new 1.2 petrol turbo engine as the line's contribution to the newinterest in petrol-powered motoring.
Offering also diesel and petrol hybrid powertrains, the Auris is one of the best looking Toyotas for years and occupies the slot between Yaris and Avensis,in what is commonly known as the Golf-sized sector.
There are hatchback and tourers available, but the 1.2 turbo five-door manual Design model which I drove represents the sales cutting edge of the range.
The 1.2-litre direct injection turbocharged engine which powered the test car is punchy and economical, being capable of 101mph and possessing a 0-62mph sprint of 12.4 seconds. All is achieved via a six-speed manual gearbox which, as is usual for Toyota, very smooth in operation.
This model, which costs £19,945 features an economy readout of 52.3 on the combined cycle, and was heading towards this figure in everyday driving.
Although gimmickry is not part of this car's DNA, there were some interesting and innovative features such as follow-me-home headlamps and an emergency brake signal, in which the hazard lights flash when undergoing a rapid stop.
You can even customize the heater and blower, meaning that when the ventilation system is in auto mode it is possible to use the fast/soft button to choose from three blower speed settings without exiting auto mode.
The refreshed front and rear exterior styling has imparted a road presence. And inside there is a redesigned dashboard, premium quality trims and surface finishes and a new 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-information screen.