Toyota that’s equal to the toughest task
IT’S testament to the sheer reliability and ruggedness of our test car’s previous versions that they are a common sight on our roads – despite being used for one of the toughest of tasks.
Get into a private hire taxi anywhere in Greater Manchester and the chances are it will be a Toyota Avensis.
A friend of mine who has run a number of private hire vehicles over the years swears by the ultra-dependable Avensis and has one with a staggering 300,000 miles on the clock which is still going strong.
Introduced in 1997 to replace the equally popular Carina and built in Britain, the Avensis sold in big numbers here and continued to do so after a facelift in 2000 and the launch of new model from 2003 to 2009 before the last incarnation, which has just been phased-out.
Now Toyota say they have comprehensively redesigned and re-engineered the Avensis for 2015. While retaining the DNA and quite a lot of the look of its predecessor, the latest Avensis has evolved to have the current Toyota corporate, sharp-angled look with cutting edge design inside and out and it is still being built at Toyota’s UK plant near Derby.
Our test car was the Business Edition Plus 1.6L diesel. Its 1.598cc engine and six-speed manual box delivers 0-62 in a respectable 11.4 seconds and top speed is 115mph.
But my taxi-driver friend will be more interested in the mpg figures which are an economical 76mpg extra urban, over 55 urban and 67 combined.
That’s not bad as this is a full four-door, five-seater with plenty of room in the back for families or fare-paying passengers and a big boot.
The front end now has new LED headlights, front bumper and bonnet revisions. The rear also gets new LED lights, while the car has been stretched by 40mm.
The equally attractive estate version has a look of Toyota’s smaller Auris at the back.
There are also changes to the chassis to improve ride and handling, while insulation levels have been upped to lower the amount of noise and vibration in the cabin.
There are two new diesel engines, our 1.6-litre D-4D (109bhp) and a 2.0-litre D-4D (141bhp).
This business version is clearly aimed at company car buyers and features a good level of kit including Toyota’s Touch 2 multimedia interface big central touchscreen with sat-nav system, leather and alcantara upholstery, a reversing camera and rain-sensing wipers.
A pre-collision system scans the road ahead and sounds an alert if a crash is imminent. If the driver doesn’t react quickly enough, the Avensis steps in and brakes itself. The system works at up to 50mph so is a big safety boost in urban driving.
Road sign assist notifies the driver of speed limit changes and there is also lanedeparture warning and cruise control.
A 1.8 petrol version is offered in addition to the two diesel engines and only the petrol has the option of automatic transmission.
Our 1.6 diesel has to be worked hard to get decent performance so I would go for the 2.0-litre, which has nearly as good mpg numbers but 32 more horsepower or even – if you are not a highmileage driver – the 1.8 petrol auto (147bhp) which would complement the car’s smooth ride while still returning reasonable mpg.
There is the added attraction of Toyota’s 5-year or 100,000 mile warranty – but I doubt you will ever need to make a claim.
So the new Avensis looks good, drives well, will be super economical and reliable and is well kitted-out.
They only went on sale earlier this summer so not many are yet on our roads, but I’m sure that we will be seeing lots them for many years to come – especially if you need to take a taxi.
Prices for the facelifted 2015 Avensis start at £17,765 for an entry-level 1.8 petrol Active, rising to £28,440 for a top-spec Excel 2.0 diesel Sports Tourer. Our Business Edition Plus 1.6L diesel is £23,795 on-the-road.
●» The Toyota Avensis 2015 facelift model will be on our roads for many years