I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Toyota’s hybrids.

I love the idea, but the reality has too often leggy engines married to horribly revvy CVT gearboxes.

But it’s finally won me over.

Whatever Toyota has done to the hybrid system in the new Corolla, it’s worked.

Previously, you’d be lucky to get above 25mph before the engine kicked in. MPG was never that great and certainly not much better than conventional power, if at all.

But things have improved greatly.

The tester I drove worked very smoothly, often staying on electric power up to 40 or 50mph and the result was an average mpg in the 50s over a full tank’s worth of in-town and motorway cruising.

That’s much, much, better.

The Corolla is a pretty historic model, of course, dating way back to 1966.

It left the UK for a while, but now it’s back, replacing the unfortunately-named Auris in the process.

Available as a hatch, saloon or tourer, it’s looking slick and futuristic to boot.

There are three engine choices – a boggo 118hp 1.2 petrol capable of up to 44 MPG and two self-charging hybrids. One a 122hp 1.8 petrol married to an electric engine and the other a 180hp 2.0, managing up to 62 and 54 to the gallon respectively.

Even base spec Icon gets alloys, adaptive cruise control, dual-zone air con, heated seats, multimedia system with digital radio and Bluetooth and a reversing camera on its standard kit list.

Icon Tech adds sat nav, parking sensors all round and voice recognition, while Design gets bigger wheels, auto wipers, front fog lights and privacy glass.

Top-end Excel gets 18in alloys, semi-leather seats, smart entry and ambient lighting inside.

The whole car feels like a step forward in quality and the drive is comfortable and smooth, with tidy handling.

Crucially, the CVT gearbox is much less revvy than previously, which is a huge step forward in driving experience.

Inside things have moved on, too. It feels quality, premium and less plasticky than some models have felt in recent years

The infotainment system has had a much-needed update, building on what was a good but outdated system – it’s visually a lot more pleasing now.

Rear space is tight if you’ve got tall people in the front, it has to be said, but the boot is decent.

I didn’t really expect the Corolla to win me over in such a big way, but it did, and it’s sure to win over a lot more drivers, too.

Prices run from £21,305 to just north of £30,000.