This further improved third generation version continues that tradition, but adds extra technology and a dash of much-needed style.
Here’s a car designed very much for the people who will drive it. Those who have to cover long distances quickly and use the time while they do effectively. To meet those needs, this Avensis has always been primarily tuned for highway ride comfort – and it still is. As for secondary road handling, well tweaks to the suspension and steering of this revised model have brought small improvements but this still isn’t the car you’d choose in this segment if you were after a dynamic drive. It’s very much though, the model you’d choose for long distances: improved refinement and even more supportive seats see to that.
As for engines, well Toyota still doesn’t want to offer its hybrid technology in this car, but it does now provide buyers with a downsized diesel, a 110bhp 1. 6-litre D-4D unit co-developed with BMW. If funds permitted, we’re prefer the extra pulling power of the 141bhp 2. 0-litre D-4D diesel we’re trying here, a car capable of 62mph in 9. 5s en route to 124mph, along with potential efficiency that sees this derivative manage 62. 8mpg on the combined cycle and 119g/km of CO2. A single petrol version continues to be offered, the 145bhp 1. 8-litre V-matic, this the only variant in the range offered with the option of automatic transmission.
The Avensis has never really prioritised style and sportiness but since that’s what current customers in the Mondeo medium range segment seem to want, Toyota has given its flagship model a more sharp-suited look in this revised MK3 model guise. The whole approach is based around what the brand calls ‘Energetic Elegance’ – the idea being to give the car a more dynamic and prestigious feel.
And at the wheel? Well it’s much nicer than before. In the previous version, you felt like you were in an Auris family hatch that’d been super-sized to sit in the class above. This car in contrast fees like a properly plush medium range model, particularly in this upper-spec guise with its part-alcantara upholstery. As usual with a car of this kind, the centre of the fascia is dominated by a colour multi-media display. Anything this set-up can’t tell you will probably be covered by the smart 4. 2-inch TFT screen now built into the centre of the instrument binnacle and placed between two deeply recessed gauges.
Move to the rear seat and you’ll find that accommodation is respectable by the standards of the Mondeo class. Yes, there are wider cabins in this sector, but one of the advantages of this one is that accommodating a third adult here is easier because the centre part of the floor is pretty flat, so legroom isn’t restricted.
Out back, boot remains the same size as before, despite this revised model’s increase in overall length. This means you get 509-litres of capacity in this saloon variant.
I’ll cut straight to the chase here: the Avensis is well worth a fresh look. Toyota has spent £26 million, commissioned 368,000 man hours and changed more than 1,000 parts in its efforts to force this MK3 model back into class contention.
Could it be more exciting, both to look at and to drive? Well yes of course, but you can see why Toyota weren’t keen to go too far and upset the legions of customers attracted by the sensible charms of previous Avensis models. The brand knows that the medium range market is closely fought and highly populated, with buying decisions often coming down to the smallest detail.
This much improved third generation model gets more of these kinds of details right – the quality cabin, the extra refinement, the slicker multi-media system. Which makes it a lot harder to ignore when you know that it comes at a price that’s either going to save you money up-front or enable you to afford a plusher, more up-market level of trim than you thought you were going to have. In short, it may not be the car in this class you might have dreamed about but tick all the boxes and you could well find yourself deciding it to be the one… you actually need.