Toyota is promising that its all-new Toyota Auris will be a much more appealing prospect than its predecessor, thanks to improved dynamics and a more distinctive look.

This new Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus rival is likely to reach the UK early next year following its public debut at next month’s Paris motor show. It will again be built at Toyota’s Burnaston plant in Derbyshire.

The new Auris is longer and lower than the current car, and also stiffer and up to 40kg lighter, depending on the version. An estate version will be available as well as a five-door hatchback.

At launch the new car will be offered with a range of petrol, diesel and hybrid drivetrains. The base model will be powered be a 98bhp 1.3-litre petrol engine, carried over from the outgoing Auris. Economy is improved, however, with fuel consumption now at a combined 52.3mpg and CO2 emissions at 125g/km.

A larger 1.6-litre petrol will also be offered. Developing 130bhp, it will be available with either a six-speed manual or optional CVT automatic gearbox, which improves fuel economy from 47.9 to 49.6mpg and lowers CO2 emissions slightly to 134g/km from the manual’s 138g/km.

The sole diesel will be a 89bhp 1.4-litre unit, although around a year after launch BMW diesel engines are expected to be added to the Auris line-up as part of the joint venture the two firms entered into last year.

The Auris Hybrid’s drivetrain is a development of the current 1.8-litre petrol engine/electric motor and nickel-metal hydride battery set-up. Total combined power from both motors is 134bhp, enough to get the car from 0-60mph in 10.9 seconds. CO2 emissions will be below 89g/km and the Auris Hybrid will be able to run in zero-emission EV mode for up to 1.2 miles at a time. Unlike the current car, however, the new Auris has been designed from the outset to accommodate hybrid power, so there is no compromise on interior or luggage space.

Toyota says the Auris hybrid is the cleanest car in its class for overall emissions such as NOx.

At 4275mm long, 1760mm wide and 1460mm high, the new Auris is 30mm longer, the same width as and 55mm lower than the car it replaces. That height makes it the lowest car in its class. The wheelbase stays at 2600mm and the boot capacity is increased by six litres (127 litres in the Auris Hybrid) to 360 litres.

Greater use of high-tensile steel in the upper part of the structure — a major contributor to the weight loss — has increased torsional stiffness by 10 per cent. The ride height and centre of gravity have both been lowered, and the steering and suspension systems have been tuned to give “a more comfortable, responsive and enjoyable drive”.

The new sleeker-in-profile Auris gets a much more distinctive front-end look than the forgettable current car. There’s a bolder grille, sleeker headlights and LED daytime running lights.

At the rear, features include wraparound taillights, a pronounced bumper and a wider opening tailgate.