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The Toyota Auris Touring Sports version shares the same 2.6-metre wheelbase as the standard five-door, but it is 285mm longer overall – all of that length in the rear overhang, to the benefit of boot space.

The rear loading sill has been lowered by 100mm and the loading aperture is wide, permitting access to a boot that’s 1070mm long with the back seats in place and 1900mm with them folded, according to our tape measure. The nickel-metal-hydride high-voltage battery for the hybrid's drive unit is situated beneath the rear seats, so it doesn’t eat into cargo space.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Sport spec misses out on keyless go and parking sensors but we'd still have it

The Auris is suspended via MacPherson struts at the front. One of the reasons to opt for the hybrid version is because, unlike the entry-level 1.2-litre turbo, 1.3-litre petrol derivatives and the 1.4- and 1.6-litre turbodiesels, the hybrid has fully independent double wishbones at the rear, whereas cheaper variants use a torsion beam.

Meanwhile, the Auris Touring Sports gets its own suspension tune and reinforcement around the boot aperture that makes the body almost as torsionally stiff as the regular five-door hatchback.

The hybrid powertrain itself makes 134bhp in total, from a 1.8-litre petrol engine and an 80bhp electric motor. In range-topping Auris models on 17-inch alloy wheels, it emits just 92g/km of CO2.

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Aside from the wallet-thickening CO2 performance, the power of continuous product improvement might be the most convincing thing going for Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive. The manufacturer surpassed five million hybrid sales this year and with every new model along the way, it has made incremental improvements.

Only by that route can any manufacturer really learn what’s reliable when you mix petrol and electric power – as well as what simply works. The Auris Touring Sports counts as another new model, of course – and its hybrid driveline, therefore, gets new control logic for its power-split transmission, even compared with the Auris hatchback.

That, Toyota says, makes for smoother performance and, specifically, a closer relationship between vehicle speed and engine revs. Which, in terms of the perception of performance, at least, sounds like exactly the kind of update that a Toyota hybrid needs.

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