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Toyota Avensis Tourer T Spirit 2.2 D-CAT

Click to view picture galleryThe British-built Toyota Avensis is
  the Japanese company’s European
  flagship model, and it continues
  to lead the brand while seriously
  challenging any rivals
...”

THE AVENSIS TOURER ESTATE offers customers a choice of three engine options: a 1.8-litre petrol, and 2.0 and 2.2-litre diesels. In terms of running costs, the financially most appealing of these three, to both private and business users, is the 2.0-litre turbodiesel unit — no surprise given its official Combined Cycle figure of 61.4 and 62.8mpg (depending on the trim level) and CO2 emissions of 119-120g/km.

Reviewed here is the more meaty but more thirsty and higher-CO2-emitting 2.2-litre diesel with automatic transmission in range-topping T Spirit spec which includes heated electric front seats, a huge panoramic roof and rear parking sensors. Our test car was also fitted with the optional (1,480) safety pack comprising adaptive cruise control, lane assist, and departure warning.

“Choosing the estate
gives you a luggage
capacity that can be
expanded from 543 litres
with the back seats in
use to 1,609 litres with
just the front seats
in use, plus a 1,600kg
towing capability
...”
Choosing the estate gives you a luggage capacity that can be expanded from 543 litres with the back seats in use to 1,609 litres with just the front seats in use, plus a 1,600kg towing capability.

The Tourer bodystyle gives a low deck and high opening fifth door along with a well-shaped and flat load-bed with tie-down eyelets making it particularly well suited for family, business use or for the less able who need to carry a mobility scooter or wheelchair.

The standard parking sensors are useful although hardly necessary because the Tourer's rear visibility is fine. Another praiseworthy feature is the immense and genuinely panoramic glass roof that runs from the top of the screen to about three-quarters of the way back. That's a lot of light incoming!

And with excellent wipers, very bright long-range lights and fog lamps, as well as big windows and decent-sized electric mirrors, you'll be sure to see where you're going in any weather conditions.

The powertrain uses the familiar, well-proven 148bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel and is the first Toyota diesel to make use of the very smooth, responsive and quiet six-speed automatic transmission and it brings even higher levels of refinement to the range.

The 2.2-litre engine is a good starter, pulls well (as it should with 250lb ft on tap between 2,000 and 2,800rpm) and always seems to have something in reserve for overtaking. Motorway cruising is effortless and quiet. Fuel consumption on test worked out at a reasonable 40mpg (slightly below the official 43.5mpg figure) but it did so remarkably easily despite a lot of urban driving.

I particularly liked the steering feel and the agility it enabled; for me, the power assistance felt just right. The brakes, including the electronic parking system, work well with a good pedal pressure underfoot and a pleasantly progressive action when slowing the car.

“It’s not a sporting estate
(as some rivals pretend
to be) but the Avensis
not only goes well
but also handles with
confidence and
composure —
if it has any vices,
it never showed them
to me!
Secondary controls grouped close to the electrically-adjusted wheel are well laid-out although some buttons are obscured by the spokes and rim. On the plus side, the clear-cut instruments were large and easy to take in. Heating and ventilation is very simple but effective. Oddments provision is generous (the in-car entertainment includes an AUX-in facility) and the T Spirit specification is topped-off with a very comprehensive touchscreen navigation system.

Toyota has also gone to town on occupant protection: there's front, front-side, curtain and driver's knee airbags along with the reassurance of the pre-crash safety system that's optional but seems like money well spent for a family or high-mileage user.

The Avensis Tourer is easy to access, very roomy throughout with good front seat adjustment and proved comfortable for all users. Ride quality is extremely good over virtually any surface even if you do sometimes hear it absorbing bad bumps.

It's not a sporting estate (as some rivals pretend to be) but the Avensis not only goes well but also handles with confidence and composure if it has any vices, it never showed them to me!

Reasons to buy include the powertrain, roomy interior, versatility, visibility, and refinement. Against? Some road noise, sluggish acceleration from rest, high CO2 emissions (so high tax costs), and the location of secondary switchgear.

However, the introduction of the new six-speed automatic to this capable and composed diesel adds still further to the Avensis' reputation for refinement and ease of driving. And it's built in Britain! Robin Roberts

Toyota Avensis Tourer T Spirit 2.2 D-CAT | 29,205
Maximum speed: 127mph | 0-62mph: 9.8 seconds | Overall test MPG: 40mpg
Power: 148bhp | Torque: 250lb ft | CO2 173g/km