Toy­ota that’s equal to the tough­est task

Macclesfield Express - - MOTORING -

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

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