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Toyota Avensis Test Drive Review

Date: 26 June 2015   |   Author: John Mahoney

Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £23,120
Key rival: Ford Mondeo
On sale: June 2015
Equipment: 7 airbags, cruise control, climate control, LED running lights, autonomous braking, Bluetooth, high-beam assist, lane departure warning, road sign assist, satnav, 8in infotainment screen, reversing camera, auto lamps/wipers, electric-fold mirrors, 17in alloys
Engines: Petrol: 145hp 1.8-litre Diesel: 110hp 1.6-litre, 141hp 2.0-litre
Trims: Active, Business Edition, Business Edition Plus, Excel
Transmissions: 6-speed manual, CVT auto

The reports of the upper medium segment's death have been greatly exaggerated. Once the default company car choice, big saloon and estates are now largely ignored for more efficient hatches, but dead? Far from it.

This year alone, more than 860,000 cars sold in Europe will be upper medium cars, and that's nothing to be sniffed at.

Toyota is doggedly refusing to give up on the segment. That's why it's just overhauled its Avensis.
This is very much an overhaul, not a replacement. The all-new Avensis is still a couple of years away so we have to make do with a re-skinned version of the 2009 model.

Inside, there are lots of changes to hide its age. There's a new infotainment system that, dated graphics aside, is easy to use. Build is impeccable. Perceived quality? Below what's offered by VW.

Under the bonnet there are two new, efficient diesels that are both sourced from BMW, while the single petrol 1.8-litre has been completely revised. If you want a hybrid, Toyota says buy the smaller Prius or the Auris Tourer.

Most impressive of the mid-life tweaks is the introduction of autonomous braking - not bad for a near six-year old car, especially since it's standard on all trims.

Since 87% of all Avensis models will be bought by businesses, Toyota has loaded it with kit and continued its P11D-friendly Business Edition that comes with standard satnav.

So what's it like to drive?

Frustratingly, we found it difficult to find the right driving position, and the steering wheel lacks enough adjustment for both rake and height. The driver also sits too high. It all feels a bit odd.

We drove both the 114hp 1.6-litre and 141hp 2.0-litre estates. Out of the two engines, the latter is better suited to the big car with plenty of low-down pull, but the cheaper-to-run 1.6-litre is the more obvious company car.

That's a shame, because it isn't fast. To reach 62mph takes 11.7 seconds and it needs to be worked to get the best out of it. But the refinement and all-round hush at motorway speeds go some way to making up for the lack of grunt.

On quiet country roads the Toyota isn't as engaging as the class best. There's grip, but the new, softer springs means there's a bit more roll - but it's not a deal breaker.

Like the rest of the car, costs are a mix of impressive and below par. It trails the Mondeo and the new Passat for emissions and residuals but destroys both on cost per mile.

The Avensis might be long in the tooth, but, thanks in part to a competitve P11D, it's certainly not dead in the water.

Toyota Avensis 1.6 D-4D Business Edition

Model price range £17,765-£28,440
Residual value 32.0%
Depreciation £15,720
Fuel £4880
Service, maintenance and repair £2129
Vehicle Excise Duty £40
National Insurance £2010
Cost per mile 50.3p
Fuel consumption 67.3mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 110g/km (20%)
BIK 20/40% per month £77/£154
Warranty 5yrs/100,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 543/1609 litres
Engine size/power 1598cc/112hp


Revised Avensis returns with class-beating P11D-driven fleet appeal
  • Seriously well-equipped
  • Efficient
  • Spacious
  • Quiet
  • Others cheaper to operate, feels its age, driving position doesn't suit all