In the second of a recent UK built Toyota fest, we have a steer in the new Avensis Tourer, one of the comfiest vehicles in its sector and come to the conclusion – fleet (or family) dreams are made of this… and who am I to disagree?
I like a nice big comfy car, it goes cap in hand with my nice big comfy frame in all fairness but purely on a personal level, I don’t really go in for all these small city cars… As the Actress once said to the Bishop – there’s no substitute for length.
The Avensis has grown from what originally was a vastly modernised Carina E in to a true favourite of mini-cab world, and I reckon that’s no bad thing. Ask a driver who spends the thick end of 12 hours a shift clawing his way through city traffic what the key priority is and I’ll bet you my last Rolo that its comfort. Avensis also makes a dent into the all important fleet market for the same reason.
This new car does not disappoint on that score. Thanks to some exterior styling tweaks and a whole new interior, the Avensis remains impressive in terms of available space and occupant comfort. The new grille looks imposing and slightly aggressive although on a personal level I find it slightly ugly and Japanese looking rather than something more European. The Avensis Tourer is a big car at just over 4800mm long, so thankfully I can save a few words and time by not worrying you about space… because there’s loads of it.
That said, a trick or two has been missed on the practicality front. The front door bins are very small and the cup holder behind the gear lever likes its own company by only having room for one. Also of note, the sliding lid to the holder on the test car felt flimsy and cheap, I would like something a little more substantial on a car that’s a whisker away from £30,000. I also noticed the roof mounted lamp unit felt slightly loose when you wiggled it… hmmn, could be much better me thinks!
You’ll find a new facia with pleasant dials that are much smaller then the outgoing car but easy to read and illuminate with a soft neon glow. The dual zone climate and central intuitive screen work very well and all the knobs, dials, bells, and whistles work with a reassuring damped feel that plants a subconscious feeling of security and solidity. What I did find strange was the mock wood trim to the dash and doors. Although I am personally partial to the beauty of burr or the wonder of wood in a car, Toyota haven’t executed it very well at all.
The visual effect is like one of those horrible hostess trolleys offered for £5 by Mr Parsons as a spot prize on Sale of the Century or the one they would wheel displaying the cakes and gateaux’s in a Berni Inn circa 1979. It has a matt finish an ugly grained effect, feels cheap to the touch and looks horrible. This woeful wood effect aside, the facia feels well made and ergonomically sound. No issues with the driving position either thanks to a very supportive leather clad drivers seat with plenty of adjustment on offer. Oh… the smell when you open the door to get inside is lovely too, its good quality leather with a subtle aroma of hide – a genuine premium car touch.
Out on the road the UK built 2.0 diesel engine does a good job of hustling the car around. It develops 141bhp and 320Nm of torque but the latter comes in from around 1800rpm so you do have to keep an eye on the tacho if you want to keep the progress going. Its quite smooth and sounds unfussed, only when you poke it with a stick does the plant intrude on the interior serenity. The manual six speed has a nice shift quality, the clutch is weighted perfectly and the brakes feel secure, progressive and smooth in action. Town or Country… its really good to drive.
But its devouring distance where the Avensis wins. Pound for pound there are few other volume sector cars that offer a similar level of comfort, refinement and space. Motorway munching is effortless thanks to a quiet cabin and almost silent suspension. The notorious Surrey stretch of the M25 with its rough concrete surface was the only excessive road noise I discovered with the Toyota – you soon realise why this car is favoured by fleet and coveted by cabbies!
The driving experience is concluded by stating there is plenty of grip, quick steering, safe roadholding and decent economy on offer – expect to see around 50mpg in everyday motoring. Equipment levels in Design trim include a new touch and go Sat Nav, 18 inch alloys, a cracking sounding audio system with the usual in and outputs, dual zone climate, auto wiper and lights and of course those lovely smelling and comfy leather chairs. All in all the new Avensis Tourer is a fine car for both fleet and family.
THE HUMBLE OPINION:
As with the Auris Touring Sports recently tested, the Avensis just gets on with the task in hand. Its never going to be the first choice in the mindset for drivers of key rivals such as Mondeo or Passat but that’s their loss and Toyota’s conquest sales gain. Comfort and convenience is quite brilliant – attributes the Avensis has always been famed for.
It makes perfect sense for family and fleet, so if you prefer to hide in the crowd rather than stand out of it, the Toyota Avensis fits the bill admirably. British made with a UK built power unit, its a damn fine car that just needs a tiny amount of reworking to some fittings and textures become really outstanding.
A good car with good dealers and a superb reputation – its really hard not to like. So if you travel the world and the seven seas, look no further.
Should you buy? – indeed… tis a fine weapon!
AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING: 8/10
Model Tested: Toyota Avensis Excel Tourer D4D 2.0
Price: £28,600 excluding options
Produced By: Toyota GB Burnaston Derbyshire
Engine: 2.0 16v D4D Turbo Diesel
Power: 141Bhp & 320Nm of torque
Performance: *0 – 62 in 9.8 seconds 124mph max
Economy: *58.9mpg combined (49.8mpg on test)
Co2 / VED: 124G/km Band D
*Govt or Makers claimed data
THE HIGHS: Superb comfort and space – Well equipped – Lovely to drive – Good performance – Practical – High UK build input – Solid reputation – Feels like it will last forever – Incredible motorway refinement.
THE LOWS: Styling causes discussion – Awful mock wood veneer – Some plastics feel hard and cheap – Not the most exiting car to drive or own – No automatic gearbox option.
For more information on the Avensis & Toyota range CLICK HERE