Toyota have just launched their latest Auris for the European market and it is exclusively built in Derby where the Japanese have been manufacturing their cars for the last 25 years.

Sadly the motoring press are not that impressed with it saying that it has limitations and is a little bit boring.

But they do make a number of points, and they are big ones, that the Auris is spacious, solid and totally reliable. That I reckon is pretty impressive on the drive scale.

But probably the best remark came from the top motoring journalist Honest John who said that the Auris was as friendly as family cars come.

They used to say that about the Toyota Corolla which was probably one of the world’s most popular cars and which more than 40 million were built.

Sadly they no longer exist and the Auris has taken the mantle for the popular family car.

It has been around for a dozen years and the latest refreshed model has a choice of two powertrains which are a 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid, which is currently the choice of almost 75 per cent of UK Auris buyers while the second option is the direct-injection 1.2T turbocharged petrol engine. This is available with either six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission and the Active grade has been discontinued, making Icon the entry point to the range.

Honest John points out that while the Auris was perfectly competent it hardly set pulses racing, thanks to its bland styling.

But Toyota has addressed this with the new car, which gets a sharp, aggressive look – but it’s still as relaxed, easy to drive and practical as ever.

The cabin is more modern with a simple infotainment system and it is a comfortable ride, with a good driving position.

The most popular Auris in the UK is the hybrid, which uses the same drivetrain as the Prius, with an electric motor, 1.8-litre petrol engine which makes it fuel efficient, clean and reliable and on the Prius models the hybrid rarely breaks down.

Four people can be carried in comfort and there is a boot floor which can be set at two different heights and give you 360 litres which basically means one enormous suitcase.

The rear seats split 60:40, and when folded, the boot space expands to 1200 litres.

There is bags of room to get in and out of the back seats and more rear legroom than the older model.

The top of the range new 1.2 petrol comes in at £20,000 and it will do more than 120mph and 0-60mph at 10 seconds. Now that is good But it is the economy where it scores and on the combined scale it is around 60 miles to the gallon.

There are 16-inch alloy wheels, a reversing camera, front fog lights, power windows, six-speaker audio with DAB, automatic air conditioning and a shark fin antenna, all as standard. The Toyota Safety Sense package provides a Pre-Collision System, Automatic High Beam, Lane Departure Alert and Road Sign Assist.

Icon Tech models add cruise control and Toyota Touch 2 with Go, adding navigation and connectivity functions to the multimedia system.

Design grade has 17-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, black side sills, Alcantara upholstery, sports front seats and rear privacy glass, together with cruise control.

There are front and rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto-folding door mirrors, dusk-sensing headlights and rain-sensing wipers.

Excel models have the sophisticated Toyota Touch 2 with Go package, which includes voice command and text-to-speech functions and 3D mapping. Additional features include Intelligent Park Assist, LED headlights, smart entry and push-button start, heated leather seats and dual-zone climate control.

There is the Toyota five year warranty and the insurance group is 12E. There are seven airbags as standard, which includes a driver's knee bag. Other safety kit includes stability and traction control, Isofix child seat anchors, brake force distribution and brake assistance - no surprise then, that the Auris claimed five-stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests.