Car group tests

Toyota Avensis vs Hyundai i40

Can revised Toyota Avensis see off Hyundai and take a bigger slice of fleet sales?

The lure of upmarket compact executive models has meant that sales of big family saloons have been in freefall for the past few years.

Best family cars

Even so, mainstream manufacturers have refused to give up on the ailing sector, with new and revised models hitting showrooms nearly every month.

The latest arrival is the Toyota Avensis, which has been treated to a much needed nip and tuck after more than five years on sale. Featuring a sleek new look and upgraded interior, the newcomer has premium models in its sights. 

Best company cars

Crucially, with a line-up of efficient new engines and well equipped Business Edition versions, the Toyota is aiming to take a significant slice of the action in the fiercely competitive fleet sector that makes up around 70 per cent of sales for these types of cars.

Yet the Avensis isn’t the only family model that’s been under the knife, because Hyundai has also treated its i40 to a mid-life refresh. 

The changes aren’t as marked as the Toyota’s, but tweaked engines, retuned suspension and a revised trim line-up aim to ensure the great-value Hyundai is an even more attractive choice.

So which of our newcomers makes more sense for both company car users and private buyers?

Toyota Avensis review

Hyundai i40 review

Click the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to see which sensible saloon comes out on top...

Head-to-head

Business speak

In the UK, company cars account for over 70 per cent of sales in the large family car class. So it’s no surprise that our contenders in this test are aimed at business users looking to keep Benefit in Kind tax costs in check. 

With its Business Edition Avensis, Toyota makes no bones about its target customers. Not only does this model offer the sort of kit high-mileage drivers demand – sat-nav and cruise control are standard – its new 2.0-litre diesel has been tuned to deliver low 119g/km emissions. Add an attractive £22,995 price tag, and higher-rate earners will face an annual tax bill of £1,927. 

If that’s too steep for you, for a £1,000 saving you can have a 1.6-litre D-4D diesel in the same trim. The four-cylinder engine emits just 108g/km and claims 67.3mpg. But if you want more kit, the £24,795 Business Plus model adds part-leather seats and keyless entry.

Hyundai is equally keen to tempt business buyers, lowering emissions and increasing the kit count on its new i40 SE Nav.

The 1.7-litre CRDi comes in two states of tune: the 139bhp version tested here and a lower-powered 113bhp version. The latter emits 4g/km less CO2 than our car, at 110g/km. 

As with the Toyota, buyers can upgrade. SE Nav Business spec adds extras like leather-trimmed and ventilated seats, and is offered with both engines.

Verdict

1st place: Toyota Avensis

The revised Avensis is a car transformed. It’s more distinctive than its bland predecessor, is well finished inside and surprisingly good to drive. It’s not as roomy as the i40, and we’d expect lower emissions from a model targeting fleet sales, but it’s a great comeback from Toyota. Strong refinement and decent fuel economy add further appeal, while the extra safety kit is the icing on the cake.

2nd place: Hyundai i40

There’s little separating these cars, but the i40’s slight performance advantage and impressive warranty can’t overcome its lack of key fleet features like adaptive cruise and emergency braking. Decent fuel economy, strong practicality and great handling still make it a fine all-rounder for business users and private owners alike, but it doesn’t look or feel as upmarket as the Toyota, either.

Other options in this category

Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi ECOnetic Zetec

Price: £22,845 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 148bhp

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The latest Mondeo isn’t as good to drive as it once was, but it’s still a very practical choice, plus in 2.0 TDCi ECOnetic Zetec guise it emits just 107g/km of CO2. Yet you’ll have to fork out an extra £300 on sat-nav and £200 for Active City Stop.

Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI SE Business

Price: £22,090 Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 148bhp

If you want a spacious, handsome, refined, good to drive and upmarket company car, it’s hard to look past the Superb. The diesel is punchy, frugal and attracts low tax bills, while SE Business trim offers all the kit you’re likely to need.

Key specs:

 Toyota Avensis 2.0 D-4D Business EditionHyundai i40 SE Nav 1.7 CRDi 141
On-the-road price/total as tested£22,995/£23,490£22,400/£22,400
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£9,428/41.0%£8,803/39.3%
Depreciation£13,567£13,597
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£963/£1,927£894/£1,788
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,296/2,160£1,484/£2,474
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost18/£345/C/£3019/£355/C/£30
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£169/£239/£169£499 (3yrs/30k)
   
Length/wheelbase4,750/2,700mm4,745/2,770mm
Height/width1,480/1,810mm1,470/1,815mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,995cc4cyl in-line/1,685cc
Peak power141/4,000 bhp/rpm139/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque320/2,250 Nm/rpm380/1,700 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel60 litres/foam70 litres/space saver
Boot capacity509 litres525 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,535/565/1,800kg1,610/480/1,800kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.8 metres/0.28Cd10.9 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery5yrs (100,000)/1yr5yrs (unltd)/5yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers12,500 miles (1yr)/18120,000 miles (2yrs)/162
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.8th/2nd21st/17th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars90/86/53/86/5 (2009)92/86/43/86/5 (2011)
   
0-60/30-70mph9.2/8.9 secs9.3/9.2 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th3.9/6.2 secs3.5/5.3 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th7.7/10.2 secs6.9/9.5 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph124mph/1,900rpm126mph/2,000rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph54.4/39.2/9.7m50.5/36.0/9.1m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph65/47/56/65dB61/43/58/67dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range49.6/10.9/655 miles43.3/9.5/667 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined49.6/74.3/62.8mpg58.9/68.9/65.7mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined10.9/16.3/13.8mpl13.0/15.2/14.5mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket153/119g/km/21%175/114g/km/20%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/yes/£495/yesSeven/yes/yes/yes
Automatic box/stability/cruise ctrlNo/yes/yes£1,900/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/no/noYes/no/yes
Met paint/xenon lights/keyless go£495/no/no£500/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes

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