If I was a doctor with a patient suffering from road rage, I’d be very tempted to prescribe them a Toyota Auris.
Equally, if I was a fleet manager fed up with throttle-happy drivers picking up speeding tickets as well as placing undue wear and tear on their cars, then a spell in an Auris would also do them a power of good.
It’s not that our 2.0 D-4D Auris is slow – it isn’t, as its 124bhp and 221lb-ft torque provides ample overtaking power in most situations.
It’s just that there is something soothing about driving it which makes it difficult to retain any form of aggression for too long.
And with all your anger or intentions of driving rashly seemingly soaked up by a magic sponge, you automatically opt for a more sedate and economical driving style.
Which is just as well really, because when worked hard the engine becomes noisy and unrefined.
But base your gearchanges around the gearshift indicator in the instrument panel – which signals when to change up or down for the best engine efficiency – and progress becomes relaxed and hassle-free.
This is good news for fuel economy, with the Auris sipping its last tank at 52.4mpg – a smidgeon better than the official combined figure of 52.3mpg – making for a 50.1mpg overall average.
The Auris’s spaciousness and practicality has also impressed. In particular, its flat floor in the rear has proved to be very useful, not only in occasionally accommodating three adult passengers with more legroom than in most other hatchbacks, but also for transporting long, thin loads like loft floor boards which were too long to fit sideways into the boot. These slid easily along the floor which later made them easy to remove, too.
The car’s mix of abilities has won it at least one big fan in the office in the 6ft 4in shape of Fleet News digital producer Jeremy Bennett, who borrowed it to goto Belgium on holiday.
He came back praising its ride and comfort – after a five-hour stint behind the wheel he felt fine, with no hint of any back ache whatsoever.
He also singled out the six-speed gearbox, praising its high positioning, the precise and smooth feel, and how well the ratios are matched to the engine.
Unfortunately, his time with the Auris was not as hassle-free as my spell as he was rear-ended after stopping at a pedestrian crossing, causing minor damage to the rear bumper.
But it’s not the car’s fault that it attracts errant Belgian drivers and it has performed faultlessly, which means it is just winning the battle for hearts and minds – it’s certainly a car you’d choose with your head because of its mix of low running costs, comfort, practicality and reliability.
But whether you’d choose it with your heart over some of its more entertaining rivals – Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf or Vauxhall Astra, for example – is still up in the air for me.
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: 50.1
CAP Monitor RV: £6,150/40%
Contract hire rate: £321
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles