Toyota Auris Sport 1.6-litre five door manual.

Price: £18,245.

Top speed: 118mph.

0-62mph: 11.1 seconds.

Fuel: 46.3mpg.

CO2 emissions (g/km): 140.

Verdict: Better to drive, more style, practicality and efficiency, roomy, excellent build quality, outstanding reliability with five year warranty.

FULL marks to Toyota for giving us an Auris with sharper, smarter styling and with a fresher, modern look to the interior which also offers more versatility and quality.

And despite the considerable advances and generous equipment levels there is no significant alteration in price.

As one might expect with Toyota there is a wide range of petrol and diesel engines and four equipment levels with prices starting at £14,495 for the 1.3-litre Active fivedoor petrol.

Petrol models are becoming increasingly popular following a surge by motorists to diesel and this is mainly due to advanced engineering and a cheaper purchase price for the petrol units compared to the oil burners.

One of the best Auris models to drive is the 1.6-litre petrol in Sport trim. This roomy five-door hatch is a good family vehicle with performance aplenty to match its sporting pretensions. It has seating for five, a large boot and a pleasing everyday fuel consumption of 46.3mpg.

Being one of the higher-specification cars it comes with a wealth of equipment and is priced at £18,245 on the road.

Toyota has been further refining its engines and transmissions and this is something drivers will appreciate.

On the road the 130bhp Sport doesn’t hang about, completing the 0-62mph sprint in 11.1 seconds and going on to a top speed of 118mph.

However, it is a smooth operator and an easy drive with both performance and economy helped by its six-speed manual gearbox with well-spaced ratios.

In fact, the new Auris is a better drive than the outgoing model as it feels more composed underway and with the light and more communicative steering the driver feels at one with the hatch.

On fast and twisty routes the Auris has plenty of grip which gives confidence to the press-on driver. It offers strong power up through the gears and good acceleration for swift overtaking manoeuvres. As one might expect, however, the Sport needs to driven with enthusiasm to get the best out of its flexible motor.

The taut but supple suspension manages to soak up most irregular road surfaces with ease so that the ride is comfortable and, in particular, a quiet one with the absence of road and wind noise which helps to show the good build quality of the vehicle.

Inside, there is a feeling of quality which is not easily matched by rivals.

The fascia is well built and cleverly laid out so that the controls are at the driver’s fingertips. And splendid packaging has produced a little more interior space.

The rear seating will accommodate tall adults, despite the sloping roof line, although knee room remains on the tight side for large passengers. The boot is big and should easily carry the family luggage, though some rivals do offer a little more cargo space.

The Auris introduces a new grade structure for Toyota – Active, Icon, Sport and Excel.

Standard features on all versions include seven airbags, air-conditioning, follow-me-home headlights, hill-start assist control, vehicle stability control and LED daytime running lights. Options include Toyota Touch-and-Go multi-media system with full map navigation and access to on-line contact and application. A new Park Assist system is standard on the Excel grade.

Toyota has a reputation for outstanding reliability and this is backed by at five-year warranty across the range.

So if you are looking for a practical and roomy car with a decent turn of speed, immaculate build quality and plenty of kit, the new Auris is certainly competitive in its crowed sector.