The launch of new Corolla is more than just a car for Toyota, it is the rebirth in Europe of a nameplate that has pretty much defined the brand for more than 50 years.

It also part of a strategy that will see Toyota consolidate behind its strongest model names in the coming years.

Toyota Motor Europe marketing chief Matt Harrison said: “Despite the fact that we replaced the Corolla name with Auris in western Europe a decade ago, awareness of the nameplate is still strong.”

Since the original Corolla was launched in 1966, some 46m have been sold worldwide. The latest hatchback and Sports Tourer (wagon) models for Europe are built at Toyota’s UK plant while sedans come from Turkey.

Harrison added: “Following on from a strong sales performance last year, we see a busy year ahead with new Corolla for Toyota and the new UX for Lexus both of which are very important models for the brands.”

The new Corolla features two hybrid power trains which will add to the Toyota and Lexus electrification offering. Harrison said that hybrids now account for 46% of total sales in Europe.

Last year saw the two brands jointly sell a record 1.035m cars in Europe, increasing market share as well as profitability.

Harrison said: “The growth has been demand led and has come despite a flat European market of 20.6m.

“We did have a good tailwind because we were not caught out as much as some of our competitors by the introduction of WLTP in September. I didn’t expect some of them to struggle as much as they did.”