New Toyota Avensis 2015 review

New Toyota Avensis family car is now more efficient and more desirable

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3.0 out of 5

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You could criticise the Avensis for being merely adequate in most areas – whether that’s running costs, styling or how it drives. What you can’t argue with, though, is the amount of standard kit it offers for less than £22,000, and the improvements in interior build quality. It all adds up to a car that ticks many boxes. We’d go for the more powerful 2.0-litre diesel version because it’s nicer to drive and shouldn’t prove that much more expensive to run.

The Toyota Avensis has never been the most desirable set of wheels, but it has always proven popular with fleet managers. That’s why the Toyota plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire, has churned out more than 1.7 million since 1997. Now, the factory managers may have to draft in a couple of extra shifts, because Toyota has given the Avensis an overhaul to make it more appealing to private buyers.

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Look quickly and you could be forgiven for thinking little has changed, but you’d be wrong; the new car constitutes a substantial design overhaul, not by Toyota in Japan but by Toyota Europe.

It has tried to give the Avensis a more prestigious look, so there’s a new front end that looks wider thanks to the slim headlights and large gloss black lower bumper. At the rear end there are new dark-tinted light clusters, also with LED light ‘blades’ in them. The exterior tweaks are completed by new alloy wheels and a range of new colours, including the £495 Orion Blue of our test car.

Inside, the dashboard and doors all get softer plastics, brighter trim, and on some models, plush part-Alcantara trim. There’s also more sound insulation and a larger touchscreen that’s easier to use than its predecessor. The overall look is still rather dull, but the interior quality is now at least a match for that of key rivals such as the Ford Mondeo.

Our test car was the mid-spec Business Edition, which comes with 17-inch alloys, an 8.0-inch touchscreen sat-nav system, part-Alcantara seats, a reversing camera and lane-departure warning.

It’s powered by a BMW-sourced 1.6-litre diesel engine that emits just 108g/km of CO2, which puts the Avensis in the 19 per cent Benefit in Kind band, and which is claimed to do an average of 67.3mpg. The motor packs 110bhp and 270Nm of torque, giving a 0-62mph time of 11.4 seconds and a 115mph top speed, so pace is adequate.

In the real world, however, the engine needs to be worked hard, and you frequently need to use the slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox to keep the motor in its sweet spot.

The Avensis rides well, however, and is exceedingly quiet on the motorway. Accurate, well weighted steering even makes it pleasing to punt down a country road. In fact, we’d go so far as saying it’s more fun to drive than the Mondeo.

If it were our money, though, we’d opt for the new 141bhp 2.0 D-4D; it’s nicer to drive and with key figures of 62.8mpg and 119g/km, it shouldn’t be that much more costly to run.

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