No matter that many dismissed it as staid and unexciting, I liked the old Toyota Avensis – a car that served me well on a couple of cross-continent jaunts.
Now here comes the brand new, third generation, version. It’s built exclusively in the UK and this time almost everyone who has got to drive it is going “Wow!”.
From the thoroughly modern sporting good looks to the glam interior, this one is something really special, providing a luxury car experience at a family car price – starting from £18,450.
The fresh new look heralds in a new Toyota design language that will influence a whole new generation of Toyota models. Seen most strongly in the New Avensis’s front-end treatment, the styling cues emphasise sharp lines and a stronger, more ground-hugging stance.
Extensive interior design changes focus on improving the quality, look and feel of the cabin. There are improvements in noise insulation and absorption measures and redesigned front seats provide improve lateral support.
The Toyota Optimal Drive powertrains, established as some of the best in their class for combined fuel efficiency and lower emissions, are carried over from the previous model.
Performance of the best-selling unit – the 124bhp 2.0 D-4D diesel – has been made even stronger thanks to a thorough revision that has brought emissions down to a tax-friendly 119g/km, while improving average fuel economy to an impressive 61.4mpg. The implications of these changes are particularly profitable for company car drivers, who can reap the benefit of a significantly lower Benefit-in-Kind tax rating.
The new Avensis’s ride and handling performance have also received lots of attention, with changes to the front and rear suspension, the shock absorbers and the electric power steering to achieve both comfort and sharper vehicle response.
Equipment specifications have been raised across the board. The core TR model now comes complete with dusk-sensing headlights, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rear view mirror and machine-faced 17-inch alloy wheels.
The most significant change in the specification list is the introduction of Toyota Touch & Go – a user-friendly touch-screen-controlled multimedia connectivity and satellite navigation system. This comes as standard on TR and T4 models, while T Spirit versions mark the world-first introduction of Toyota Touch & Go Plus, a system that provides a range of more advanced functions and features, including advanced voice recognition and an e-mail send and receive function.