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If competition is said to improve the breed, there's no better example of it in action in the automotive world than the small hatch.
Once they were cheap and not very cheerful, but today, thanks to the all-out war between carmakers such as Ford and VW, the very best are great to drive, ultra cheap to run, and have interiors that feel like they've been pinched from a luxury saloon.
Toyota's Auris is a prime example. If not quite top of the class, it's won over businesses with competitive costs, a cosseting ride, fine reliability and a decent range of engines, including the hybrid hatch and estate.
But recently, it's been feeling its age, so the Japanese carmaker has given it a quick nip and tuck until the all-new model arrives in a couple of years' time.
For now, the revised model gets new front and rear bumpers and the addition of LED running lights. Instead of trying to out-handle a Focus on a country road, Toyota engineers have attempted to make the new car as quiet and relaxing as the hybrid version.
That's why there's been all manner of sound deadening introduced. The ride, too, has been rethought, with new springs and dampers, while the steering has been tweaked for a better feel of stability at high speed.
Two new engines have also been introduced: a 114hp 1.2-litre turbo petrol and a BMW-sourced 110hp 1.6-litre D-4D diesel that replaces the old 2.0-litre. The entry-level 98hp 1.33-litre petrol and the 1.4-litre diesel, meanwhile, live on, but have been updated to meet Euro6 regs. The 1.8-litre hybrid has been tweaked as well to give slightly better fuel consumption
Naturally, we focused on the 1.6-litre diesel that, unfortunately, isn't a game changer with its 67.3mpg and 108g/km of CO2 emissions, where most rivals are well under 100g/km with their diesel offerings. Nor is refinement something to boast about, but it's brisk enough on the move and takes 10.5 seconds to reach the 62mph benchmark.
Handling too, isn't as engaging as some of the class best, but the steering is precise and the ride did a good job of soaking up the worst of the poorly surfaced roads we drove.
Inside, again, the Toyota won't be giving Volkswagen sleepless nights. It's difficult to get to set the steering wheel in the right position for a comfortable driving position, while the new infotainment system is slow to react, and the perceived quality of the cabin makes it all feel a generation behind.
Similar criticism could be levelled at the recently re-skinned Avensis, but that car redeemed itself with lots of standard kit and low running costs.
The Auris too, in Business Edition has a low expected P11D. It's a shame autonomous braking isn't standard (£450), but giving satnav is pushing the car up against more expensive rivals. It's far from being the best in the class, but ahead of full costs being made available, the facelifted Auris could still prove stiff competition.
Toyota Auris 1.6 D-4D Business Edition 5dr
Model price range £15,245-£25,095
Fuel consumption 67.3mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 108/km (20%)
BIK 20/40% per month £67/£135 (estimate)
Boot space (min/max) 435/1199 litres
Engine size/power 1598cc/110hp
Without class-leading costs the Auris will struggle