These are the exclusive first pictures of the all-new Toyota Auris. The new British-built hatchback, including its hybrid variant, was caught taking part in a marketing shoot in the Netherlands.

As the pictures show, the new Auris gets a much more distinctive design than the current model, which replaced the Corolla in 2007 and has never really stood out from the class-leading Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.

Toyota boss Akio Toyoda has long spoken of his desire for the world’s largest manufacturer to build cars with more character, and the designers of the new Auris have certainly created a car with more visual presence than its predecessor.

The new front end is most striking. Recent designs signed off under Toyoda, who took the reins at Toyota 2009, have all shared more angular bumpers, prominent grilles and sleek, technical headlights, and the new Auris is no exception.

The front end of the standard car is not visible in the pictures, but the next-gen Auris Hybrid reveals the direction the standard car will take. There’s a lower trapezoidal grille and a chrome-trimmed single-bar grille running into the slim headlights. Foglights flank each side of the front bumper and are housed in angular mounts.

Toyota’s hybrid models have traditionally been more visually striking than the standard cars on which they are based. This was seen most recently with the Yaris, which was criticised for its dowdy looks in base form but praised for its greater flair as a hybrid. It’s unlikely that Toyota will make the same mistake with the Auris.

The new Auris features a sharply raked windscreen, rising shoulder lines and kinked C-pillars. At the rear, the lights stand proud of the tailgate, which has a strongly defined boot release handle. The angular rear bumper is also very pronounced.

Toyoda’s ‘more characterful’ brief extends to the driving dynamics. To that end, the new Auris has been undergoing extensive testing on British roads to raise its dynamic flair.

As for engines, great emphasis will be placed on the hybrid model. Toyota reduced the weight and size but improved the efficiency of its hybrid system for the Yaris, and the lessons from that car will be applied to the new Auris Hybrid.

Updated versions of today’s 1.3-litre and 1.6-litre petrol engines are likely to be carried over for the launch. But the big news will be the arrival of new BMW diesel engines of 1.6 and 2.0 litres around a year after the Auris’s early 2013 launch. 

Toyota’s Burnaston plant will continue to build the Auris in its next generation. An estate is also planned for launch.