Image counts – and in the competitive lower-medium sector it is vital.
That is why cars such as the Volkswagen Golf have been such a success, and why the staid Toyota Corolla was far less popular.
However, Toyota hopes its replacement – the Auris – has the right ingredients to lower the typical age of its hatchback buyers from 60 to 30-year-old professionals.
Here we ask potential drivers if Toyota has got it right.
“The interior is a bit space-age with the raised gearshift and handbrake column, but the gearstick could take some getting used to. I like the interior with the chrome and black design, and there’s a nice mix of textures. It’s a spacious and comfortable car, but I wouldn’t say it was a car for the 30-somethings.”
“It’s an attractive car. I think Toyota is coming into the 21st century for younger drivers with cars like the Auris, Yaris and Aygo. It’s also very practical with the flat floor in the back and plenty of space, and the economy and five star Euro NCAP rating are impressive, too.
“I’m not a big fan of the centre console though – it looks plasticky and is a bit of a gimmick. Despite this I can see 30-somethings who need a practical, reliable car wanting one.”
“It’s not terribly interesting, though it does look more modern than the Corolla.
“The shape is a bit bulbous and isn’t nearly as attractive as rivals like the Honda Civic or Vauxhall Astra. It looks as if Toyota has tried too hard with the interior. I don’t like the gearshift column and the handbrake looks very strange – it’s at an awkward angle and uncomfortable to use, although the Optitron dials are quite nice. I don’t think many 30-somethings will choose this.”
“I like the shape of it – it’s nice and sleek. It looks as if it has got plenty of space for most circumstances, but for a 30-year-old with a child there isn’t enough – it’s not very family-friendly.
“The flat floor in the back would be useful because it means there is more legroom for a third passenger. I can’t see anybody choosing an Auris over a Golf.”
Price: £15,595 (£15,920 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 144
Company car tax bill (2007) 22% tax-payer: £51 per month
Insurance group: 6E
Combined mpg: 52.3
Test mpg: 51.5
CAP Monitor RV: £6,175/40%
Contract hire rate: £321
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles