Those seeking more load space, however, could always opt for Toyota's estate variant of the Auris, called the Touring Sports.
By lowering the Auris's roofline and reducing its ride height, Toyota has reduced the centre of gravity which in turn affords more supple suspension.
Those worrying about heads striking headlinings needn’t fret, either; the height reduction has been in part prompted by the outgoing Auris’s taller-than-average proportioning, and Toyota is compensating with a roof that billows above each seat row. The new front seats have impressively supportive and upright backs and the driving position is sound.
There are five trims to peruse through - Active, Icon, Business Edition, Design and Excel. Entry-level models get steel wheels, LED day-running-lights, climate control, front electric windows and USB connectivity as standard, while hybrid models get 15in alloys and keyless start added.
Upgrade to Icon and you get 16in alloys, Toyota Safety Sense technology, electric windows, a reversing camera, and Touch 2 infotainment system complete with a 7.0in touchscreen display, DAB radio and Bluetooth, while the fleet-friendly Business Edition adds cruise control, heated seats and sat nav.
The mid-range Design models gain 17in alloy wheels, Alcantara-clad sports seats, tinted rear windows and cruise control, while the flagship Excel Aurises get LED headlights, sat nav, auto wipers and lights, dual-zone climate control and parking sensors included in the package.
Improved fuel efficiency, handling and ride are the aims, while criticism of the old car’s striking but ergonomically troubled flying-buttress centre console has provoked a major rethink of the dashboard’s architecture and finish, of which more shortly.
The front suspension uses the same MacPherson strut layout as before but with tweaks. Higher specification cars – including the petrol-electric hybrid and the 128bhp petrol – get a double wishbone rear suspension arrangement, while lesser Aurises retain a twist beam.
The electric power steering has a quicker ratio (14.8:1, down from 16:1) and the steering column has been stiffened. The happy surprise is that the Auris gels competently on the road, at least when it is equipped with the smaller (and more fuel efficient) 16-inch wheel rims.
Many will be pleased to find that the ride is pleasingly compliant and that the stiffer body feels satisfyingly robust. The old car’s cornering flop has gone and the electric power steering is accurate and more consistent, despite the steering wheel feeling overly light.
The Auris is stable and goes neatly where the driver wants to put it, but the steering still feels a little slow and the car’s nose could be quicker to come to heel. The beam axle employed at the rear of some models induces more than a little joggle to the ride when it encounters poor roads. The chassis feels straightjacketed, so the Auris lacks the fluidity and spark that you’ll get from a Focus or the delicacy of one of Volkwagen’s latest MQB-based cars.
Engine choices begin with the entry-level 1.33-litre petrol. It produces 98bhp and 94lb ft and emits 125g/km of CO2. The engine offers the potential for extremely low running costs, although the sheer effort required to wring reasonable out-of-town speeds from it is more than you would have to expend in plenty of other small petrol-powered cars.