First DriveThe Avensis gains new diesel engines, suspension tweaks and a restyle inside and out. Can it now match the class best?
First DriveOverhauled Toyota Avensis estate wades back into battle against all-new rivals with new diesel engines from BMW
What's new? The Derbyshire-built Avensis has a freshened exterior and some revised mechanicals along with introducing Toyota’s all new 2.0-litre D-4D engine. The front and rear bumpers may look very similar, but have been re-styled. The door mirrors now have integrated indicators. The interior has new trim, the T 3-X specification providing climate control, dusk-sensing lights and traction control as standard. The Avensis also has a five star EuroNCAP rating. What's it like? Impressive, if a little uninspiring. The D-4D 130 is a talented unit. It offers more power, more torque and better acceleration yet produces fewer emissions than the 2.0-litre it replaces. It’s quiet, refined and flexible and, when mated to the standard long-legged six speed ‘box, makes this car is an excellent motorway companion. The ride is firm yet supple thanks to re-tuned shock absorbers and thicker anti-roll bars. The body control when cornering is better, though the steering lacks the precision of the Ford Mondeo's. However, superb ergonomics and a near faultless driving position mean you can drive for hours in this car without plotting your next visit to the chiropractor. But there are still a few mutterings. Wind noise manages to infiltrate the cabin above the windscreen and the brake pedal feels a bit spongy: a symptom uncharacteristic of all the other controls, which feel tight and sharp. Should I buy one? If you don’t mind owning a car that won't stir your emotions and offers little by way of driving pleasure, the Avensis is a rare breed of family car that does everything very well. Decent space, a great engine, refinement and undisputed reliability definitely make this car worth considering. Jon Quirk