WHAT IS IT?
Now three years old, Toyota has given the British-built Avensis a make-over. Designers have been let loose on the exterior and given the interior a bit of a refresh with new cabin materials, and engineers have had a crack at the 2.0-litre diesel engine. In fact, the Avensis is the first Toyota to wear the Japanese firm’s new ‘design language’ which we’ll be seeing plenty more of in the future.
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET
One 1.8-litre petrol and three diesel engines. The 2.0-litre D4-D diesel unit is very much the bread and butter of the range, and it’s this engine which Toyota have concentrated on. Engineers have managed to shave 3kg from the engine’s weight, the power delivery has been made smoother, and emissions have been cut from 139g/km to 119g/km to pander to the company car market. It develops a very respectable 124bhp; top whack is also 124mph.
WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE?
In an effort to get the avensis back onto the radar of many retail and fleet buyers, Toyota has worked on equipment levels. The range starts with the T2 model – £18,450 for the saloon and £19,485 for the estate – with the 1.8-litre petrol unit which features Bluetooth and a leather steering wheel. the range rises to £28,885 for the 2.2-litre diesel T-Spirit tourer which boasts full and heated leather upholstery, 18-inch alloys, a rear view camera, and Toyota Touch & Go Plus multimedia system.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Toyota have been concentrating on how the car performs on twisty roads. The chassis has been stiffened up – but not at the cost of ride comfort – a quicker steering rack and a stiffer anti-roll bar have all been added. What results is an Avensis that is slightly focused to drive, but it won’t worry the sector’s best – namely the much-loved Mondeo.
WHAT DO THE PRESS THINK OF IT?
Honest John wasn’t very complimentary about the avensis’ handling capabilities – with the D-4D engine fitted – saying it ‘handles like a wet blanket’. Honest John’s choice was the 1.8-litre petrol. Autocar says ‘it’s hard to recommend’ and ‘falls well short’ of its rivals. Auto Express were far more upbeat adding: ‘the Avensis is the clever choice in this market – even if it’s the sensible one.’
WHAT DO WE THINK OF IT?
It’s very easy to forget that the avensis is available in the D-segment – what with new product such as the Kia Optima and the Hyundai i40. But the Avensis makes sense for a lot of families and fleet buyers who want a car that’s up to the job. The revisions have been largely successful, but we’ll have to wait until the next-generation Avensis for something that really brings something new – and interesting – to the party.