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One of Toyota's priorities for the new Avensis was to increase the European look and feel of a car that traditionally has maintained a Japanese ambience in spite of being partly designed and engineered, and entirely built, in Europe.

The programme’s chief engineer, Takashi Yamamoto, even drove 3000 miles across Europe to gain a feel for the culture here, while 35 European engineers were dispatched to Japan to influence the design from there. 

The Avensis is more European in look and feel than ever

The result? Hmm. The new Avensis is more European in look and feel than before, certainly, but if you are looking – inside or out – for the sort of flair that runs deep through cars like the Vauxhall Insignia, or indeed compact executive cars that most D-segment cars aspire to become, the Avensis is left wanting. To say it is more distinctive than the outgoing model is like saying milk is tastier than water. 

Toyota has a design tagline called ‘Integrated Component Architecture’, under which it’ll emphasise a component - such as the bonnet’s clamshell shutline - which it thinks contributes to the overall shape.

The bonnet’s leading edge, for example, is low and smooth. It forms quickly into the A-pillars, and Toyota says this is one of the reasons why the saloon has a lowish 0.28 drag coefficient (0.29 for the estate). Despite a lowish front end to the bonnet, there’s crushable space behind the grille and bumper to aid pedestrian impact protection.

As with the clamshell line around the bonnet, there’s a character line around the rear bumper which flows out and up to the rear lights, both emphasising the components and visually connecting them with the body.