What is it?
Like a Prius but smaller. The Auris is Toyota's C-segment hatchback and it's now been fitted with the same hybrid drivetrain that powers the Prius. That makes it the only hybrid in its class - and a whole lot more compact than any other on the market, too.
The Japanese company hopes to have the same technology (Hybrid Synergy Drive - hence the HSD in the new car's title) in every model in its range within the next decade.
For now, buyers only have the two choices, but the Auris makes for a very different and affordable hatchback option if you're after a commuter vehicle.
Is it any good?
Not if you like driving. Toyota isn't renowned for producing cars that are fun to drive (of late in any case) and the Auris is no exception. The steering is lifeless and the handling isn't engaging at all.
It also feels devoid of power on fast roads. Approach a slip road and accelerate to catch up the traffic and you'll find yourself lagging behind all but the lorries. The electric motor makes a racket - a loud buzzing whirr - but it doesn't do much.
There's more grip in corners than you might think, though. The T-Spirit model costs £20,700 - a £1,750 premium over the entry-level T4 version - and that includes 17-inch alloy wheels and fat tyres that hug the road rather well.
You get a lot more than that, too. T4 spec isn't exactly miserly, but T-Spirit includes the likes of half leather seats, cruise control, Bluetooth, a rear-view camera and more. That's a lot of kit for not much outlay.
The Auris comes into its own on busy streets. Push the EV button and the car glides along effortlessly without making a sound. The electronic readout on the dial shows you just how little fuel you're using too, which is really rather satisfying.
Should I call the bank manager?
Your bank manager may be pleasantly surprised if you call him about one of these, as it represents serious value for money and comes with rock bottom running costs.
Go for the entry-level T4 model and you'll pay £18,950 - not bad if you consider that a Ford Focus Econetic starts at £19,695 - and that's not even a hybrid. Factor in the generous amounts of kit that we mentioned earlier and the Auris HSD starts to look pretty tempting.
The T4 model rides on 15-inch wheels, which keeps the running costs slightly lower. It emits only 89g/km of CO2 and returns 74.3mpg - both of which are impressive figures. The T-Spirit, with its larger 17-inch alloys, kicks out 93g/km and averages 70.6mpg, so it will hardly break the bank either.
Toyota will also offer eight years or 100,000 miles of warranty on each car's battery pack, which is enough to put buyers' minds at ease after the recall scare earlier this year.
Driving enthusiasts or anyone who goes to work on a motorway won't appreciate the Auris HSD. It's a long way from entertaining and not really suitable for quick roads, but it serves its purpose really well.
If you endure a daily commute that involves sitting in heavy traffic at some point then it makes perfect sense. It's quiet, smooth, easy to live with and very inexpensive to run.
It won't be everyone's idea of a good car, but you only have to look at how much it costs to buy and run in comparison to most of its rivals (a sub-£19,000 starting price is pretty low for a C-segment hatchback these days) and the Auris HSD starts to make a lot of sense.