DETROIT -- Last week, Toyota invited the world's automotive journalists to the Aisin proving grounds near here to show off a global array of hybrid powertrains.
Japanese journalists got to drive the American Camry Hybrid, Europeans got to try the Japanese Axio and Americans got to test the European Auris.
The American scribes quickly forgot about the hybrid powertrains on display and started raving about the Auris' ride and handling.
The Auris is a variant of the ongoing Corolla MC platform, but executed with European sensibilities.
That means it lacks the Corolla's ancient beam-axle rear suspension. Instead, Toyota installed the Holy Grail of road responsiveness (cue angelic chorus): the double wishbone.
Any driver with a modicum of nerves in his buttocks can feel when a car has that certain rrraaoorwww going though a corner under duress. While the U.S. Corolla waffles and wanders like a wayward sheepdog, the Auris' tight steering, supple ride and crisp handling is as good as it gets for a front-wheel-drive compact car.
It's because double wishbones handle harsh inputs and G-force loads better than any other suspension type.
The Auris harks to the '90s-era Honda Civic and Acura Integra, whose Formula One-inspired double-wishbone front and rear suspension setup was the zenith of elegant compact car engineering. Then Honda fell victim to bean counters and sensible-shoe wearers, and killed the sport compact car as we knew it.