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Toyota extends its Auris range to include a compact family estate, complete with hybrid drivetrain that helps it stand out from the rest of the segment

Time was when combining the words ‘compact’ and ‘estate car’, as is the case with the new Toyota Auris Touring Sports, in the same breath would have won you a similarly puzzled glance from a typical UK motorist as the concept of a ‘diesel Jaguar’ or a ‘Chinese MG’.

After all, what would be the point of a small estate? And who’d want one? Well, plenty would in this downsized, perfectly packaged, efficiency-oriented market.

Toyota's new compact estate will have to face well-established rivals like the Ford Focus and Skoda Octavia

It hasn’t escaped the notice of product planners that the market for wagon-converted C-segment hatches – Volkswagen Golfs, Ford Focuses and the like – has been steadily growing ever since the hatchback class became the core of the fleet car market.

There are now estate or pseudo-estate versions of offerings as different as the Skoda Fabia and Chevrolet Cruze, and of most affordable five-doors in between. They account for 25 percent of all C-segment sales in Europe, and three-quarters of that portion are sold to fleets. Although, this segment has seen a few disappear including the Seat Ibiza ST and the Renault Clio ST, so nothing is certain.

In order to muscle in on this segment, Toyota has released its Auris Touring Sports. It's offered with a choice of petrol and diesel engines but, more notably, it's available as a hybrid. With a claimed average of 76.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 85g/km, it could well prove a tempting proposition for company users.

So is the new car an inspired bit of product planning or is it another also-ran?

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