Road test: Toyota Avensis
The Avensis is solid and reliable, but lacks razzmatazz.
What is it?
The Toyota Avensis is a stylish, reliable and very capable car that will have plenty of all-round appeal. It’s never going to set the world alight but it is dependable.
How safe is it?
Toyota has introduced its new Safety Sense pack which autonomous emergency braking. Toyota is confident the car will be awarded the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests.
Who should buy one?
With a line-up of new highly-efficient powertrains and lots of on-board technology the Avensis is ideal for business drivers. That said, the car is flexible enough to double up as a versatile family vehicle, too.
Road test by Maxine Ashford published 21 August 2015
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
The Avensis is available in saloon or Touring Sports (estate) bodystyles and there are some very interesting new engines on offer which have been sourced from BMW and can deliver combined fuel efficiency of up to 67.3mpg with carbon emissions as low as 108g/km.
New Avensis is available in four trims – Active, Business Edition, Business Edition Plus and Excel – and prices start from £17,765 and rise to £28,440. It’s the Business Edition and Business Edition Plus grades that Toyota believes will account for more than 80 per cent of sales and these models boast features such as the Toyota Touch 2 Go sat nav system, a reversing camera, better quality upholstery, privacy glass, additional safety systems and heated seats (depending on which spec is selected).
We tested the Touring Sports model powered by the new 2.0-litre D-4D diesel engine with six-speed manual transmission in Business Edition Plus. Priced at £25,975 this model can sprint from 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds and tops out 124mph. According to official figures it can achieve combined fuel economy of 61.4mpg with carbon emissions of 120g/km.
When it comes to performance, the 2.0-litre engine delivers plenty of punch and in fairness to Toyota they put the car through a gruelling and somewhat punishing test run in Switzerland with steep and twisting mountain climbs and lots of hairpin bends.
Maintaining momentum did mean lots of gear changing and when pushed hard there was a fair amount of groaning from the diesel powertrain, but all in all the car performed pretty well and the downhill journey was an absolute breeze with the grounded, sure-footed handling and precise steering proving most reassuring as the car swept down narrow mountain roads with nerve-wracking drops appearing at every turn.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
This is an area where the Avensis excels thanks to its deceptively large dimensions. It measures 4,820mm in length (4,750mm for the saloon) and that means lots of room for occupants and ample storage space.
The boot can accommodate 543 litres of luggage which can quickly and simply be increased to 1,609 litres with the rear seats dropped flat. Elsewhere there are numerous smaller compartments scattered throughout the cabin, including cup holders, a good-sized glove-box, deep door pockets and handy trays.
Back seat passengers are also well catered for and even six-footers will benefit from ample leg, head and shoulder space. With the panoramic roof (an option on Business Edition Plus but standard on Excel models) the natural light floods in through the large windows to create a welcoming cabin environment.
While most controls are well positioned, we did initially have to play “hunt the parking brake” as it was obscured from view by the steering wheel.
Although the official Euro NCAP rating is still being awaited, Toyota is very confident the latest Avensis will be awarded the maximum five stars. As well as all the instantly recognisable safety features, the company has just introduced its Toyota Safety Sense system, which is fitted as standard across the model range. This features a pre-collision system with autonomous emergency braking, which operates at speeds between six and 49mph.
Techno treats and creature comforts are plentiful; even the entry-level models come equipped with LED daytime running lights, air conditioning, cruise control, a six-speaker CD/radio sound system and Bluetooth connectivity.
The two Business Editions have a very efficient Toyota Touch 2 Go multimedia and navigation system, auto headlights and wipers and all the extra safety kit.
The range-topping Excel adds a panoramic roof, heated seats, adaptive headlights, a 10-speaker audio system and 18-inch alloys.
Prices for the Avensis start from £17,765 for the 1.8 VVT-I saloon with six-speed manual gearbox in Active trim. The costs rise to £28,440 for the 2.0 D-4D Touring Sports model with six-speed manual transmission in Excel.
The saloon powered by the 1.6-litre diesel engine mated to a manual gearbox offers the best economy figures with a combined fuel efficiency of 67.3mpg and carbon dioxide emissions of 108g/km.
The Skoda Superb really lives up to its name’s bold claim.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62mph in 11.7 seconds
Economy: 67.3mpg combined
Insurance: Group 12E
Tax: Band B (£0 first year)
Figures for the Toyota Avensis Touring Sports 1.6 D-4D Business Edition Plus manual