There can be few British success stories as low key as the Toyota Auris.

For years, tens of thousands of this modest, yet thoroughly capable, hatchback have quietly rolled off the line at a factory in Derbyshire.

Launched back in 2006 as the successor to the Corolla – once voted the world’s most reliable car – the unassuming Auris, like its predecessor, was never one to shout about its talents.

The latest model, an able performer laden with a host of family-friendly abilities, continues that understated role.

For 2018, Toyota has sharpened the five-seater’s looks to heighten the impression of a broader stance and lower centre of gravity, while giving the interior an upmarket refresh with redesigned dashboard, improved trim and surface finishes and a 4.2-inch multi-information screen.

There is a choice of four equipment grades and for some extra pizazz, a Design Bitone version has been added to the trim choices with a black roof, shark fin antenna and spoiler.

Engine choice has been simplified with the removal of diesel engines and the 1.3-litre petrol engine, leaving the 1.2T turbo petrol engine with six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission, and the 1.8-litre petrol-electric hybrid driven here.

Comfort, economy and reliability are key to the success of the Auris and safety too is clearly important. All Auris models feature a pre-collision system and lane departure alert, together with automatic high beam and road sign assist systems. The road sign assist recognises signs such as speed limits and “no overtaking” warnings, and displays the information on a screen in the instrument panel. Slip even 1mph over the limit and the speed limit warning changes colour.

But the real changes that will appeal to Auris drivers are those designed to make an already comfortable ride even more relaxed.

And to achieve that Toyota says it has made design changes to suspension components and soundproofing to reduce the transmission of noise, vibration and harshness into the cabin.

In addition, the electric power steering system’s mapping has been tuned to further build steering weight as vehicle speed rises, giving better feedback between 35 and 50mph.

It all works splendidly, with seamless stop and start performance and a hybrid system that runs exceptionally quietly when on electric motor power.

Toyota says the combination of the petrol engine and electric motor can generate maximum power of 134 horsepower but that is far from the point. The hybrid is all about quiet, stress-free driving, automatically switching to electric power when possible.

It can run purely on electric motor power from start-up and at speeds up to about 44mph, depending on a number of factors such as the level of charge in the hybrid battery and the driver’s use of the throttle.

Switching to pure electric mode using a button on the centre console, allows short distances to be covered on electric power, at relatively low speeds, for example in slow-moving traffic.

And when running on its electric motor alone, it produces zero CO2, NOx and particulate matter tailpipe emissions.

The powertrain is engineered to eliminate the need for the petrol engine to run in city driving as much as possible and it is clearly proving an attractive proposition, with the hybrid accounting for more than half of all European Auris sales, a share that Toyota expects to increase over the next few years.

Amid the continuing uncertainties of Brexit, another British success is Toyota’s Burnaston plant, near Derby, the home of the Auris for more than six years, that last year marked its 25th year of production.

Just last week, Toyota announced that the next generation Auris would be built there, a resounding vote of confidence in a continuing story of quiet achievement.

Auto facts

Model: Toyota Auris Design Bi-tone Hybrid

Price: £24,530 as tested

Insurance group: 10E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 72.4mpg

Top speed: 112mph

Length: 433cm/170.4in

Width: 176cm/69.3in

Luggage capacity: 15.3 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 9.9 gallons/45 litres

CO2 emissions: 91g/km

Warranty: Five years/100,000 miles