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Well executed Mondeo rival lacks driving character and personality

Our Verdict

Toyota Avensis
Toyota tries to maintain the substance and turn up the style

The Toyota Avensis is adequate but generally underwhelming family transport

1 December 2008

What is it?

This is the new Toyoata Avensis, the epitome of the medium-sized Euro saloon. Toyota’s record in this shrinking market sector has not been distinguished.

Toyota says that, according to market research, the strengths of previous models were in emissions and acceleration, so it targeted improvements in design, style, ride and the performance of the transmission for the new car.

Toyota wants to get out of the mainstream with the new Avensis, and closer to the ‘cutting edge’ and ‘premium cars’ in the market.

In an attempt to get closer to the European market, 35 Toyota engineers based in Europe were sent out to Japan, influencing the Avensis from the beginning.

For the second half of the project, chief engineer Yamamoto moved to Europe and drove over 3000 miles in prototypes.

The Toyota Avensis platform is described as new and gets a 44mm wider front track and a 37mm wider rear track than the previous model. It’s 4.7m long in saloon form (and just 70mm longer as an estate), and gets a new double wishbone suspension set-up at the rear.

There will be three petrol engines (a 130bhp 1.6, a 145bhp 1.8 and a 150bhp 2.0) and three diesels (a 124bhp 2.0-litre and a 2.2-litre unit with either 148bhp/250lb ft or 174bhp/295lb ft).

They’ll drive either a new six-speed manual ’box, the Multidrive CVT (petrols) or a regular auto (diesels). It’s the 124bhp 2.0-litre diesel we test here.

What’s it like?

The new Avensis is a considered, mature design but lacks the visual fireworks of, say, the Vauxhall Insignia.

The interior is a masterclass in Toyota’s finely detailed conservatism. It’s easy to praise the clarity and practicality of the layout. The centre console cupholder and armrest storage are neat, too.

Perhaps the best things about the interior are the cabin’s width, the roomy footwells and excellent driving position. Otherwise, the driver is deep in the (admittedly highly competent) medium-car mainstream.

My notes from the presentation include the phrase “agility is nothing without stability”. Judging by my time in the car, agility has actually been laid low by stability.

The 2.0-litre diesel engine is a little noisy in the manual car, but the 2.2-litre oil-burner equipped with the automatic gearbox seems more refined.

Everything about the car – brakes, controls and ride – is capable, but no more than that.

Should I buy one?

The truth is that the new Avensis is just a more polished version of the previous one: tightly built, neatly styled, spacious, stable, safe and no doubt reliable. But it’s missing the sort of verve and passion that’s clearly shot through rival cars such as the Citroen C5 and Honda Accord.

Join the debate

Comments
11

2 December 2008

Looks to be another competent but desperately boring Toyota.

However, if Toyota's sale figures are anything to go by this car will have a market. I guess they are not the worlds largest car maker for nothing.

You just won't find me driving one.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

2 December 2008

How on earth did the European designers have any influence on design of this car?I don’t see any passion, individuality or flair on this design. The grille is gruesome, the side profile is lumpy and badly proportioned and the dash is plain and uninspiring.

2 December 2008

Couldn't read the article - each time I caught a glimpse of the photo I fell asleep and banged my nose on the space bar. Can someone sum up for me? I'm guessing:

  • It's from Japan, so it's bound to be full of uninteresting electronics bearing horribly contrived acronyms like EQO or H-OCTANE
  • It has an embarrassing marketing strapline such as "Grace and discipline"
  • Repeated claims that the car has a European flavour, despite being of a clinically ho-hum design that is a trademark of every Japanese car ever
  • A summary explaining how the car is good but unremarkable

Was I right?

2 December 2008

Scary - you got it in one!!

lol :-))

2 December 2008

Toyota: You'll die of blandom.

Today (boring) Tomorrow (bland) Toyzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Where has all Japanese design went to?

2 December 2008

Hmm. The front of that is beyond bland, and into genuinely offensive territory. More American than European I'd say.

Still, on the front page of the website, save the colour, this and the VX Insignia do look pretty much the same...

2 December 2008

Why have they put the front of an ugly bland SUV on the front of a bland sedan?

23 December 2008

Knowing Jap cars the way I do now after owning half a dozen this car is boring- boringly reliable- exactly what most people want especially if they are spending their own money. You can keep the insignias and modeos- yuk I'll go boring everytime and enjoy peace of mind. Boy racers need not apply

24 December 2008

Unlike everyone else, I agree with you. I am currently a company car driver (2.2 D4D T3X) and love my car. I get over 52 mpg the tax is reasonable and although it is boring to look at, it does the job I need it too without breaking into a sweat. The MP3 stereo (which other euroboxes are only just including) the standard cruise control and 6 speed box means I can cruise the motorways all day without any problems for 10s of thousands of miles. I am very keen on trying out the new 1.8 petrol TR which has a lower tax band and better fuel economy than many diesel equivalents, plus lots of standard exec toys on board.

For the same price (on my car list), I can have - Mondeo Edge, 21% tax, no alloys, cheap stereo, no climate control, no bluetooth.

Or a Passat - Again high tax, aweful tractor 1.9 engine and unless going for the highline poorly equipped.

Or the new Vectra (Sorry Insignia, named after the 80s deodrant) which although looks nice and is well equipped, it has stupidly high tax ratings (21% + )

27 December 2008

I'm not so impressed with the looks. The interior design is good but the exterior is a bit oooh woo I'm not sure about this which completly for me kills the idea of buying one. It's a family car so I'm not bothered about BHP and what not just looks and a bit comfort will do it.

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