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Toyota Avensis TR 2.0 D-4D

Click to view picture gallery“The latest Avensis has sharper
  looks, additional equipment and
  improved ride comfort. Best of all,
  if you want to save on your motoring
  costs, it boasts improved fuel
  economy and reduced emissions...”

THE 124BHP 2.0-litre D-4D turbodiesel engine offers the best fuel and tax saving figures with an official Combined Cycle fuel consumption of 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 119g/km.

This means road tax costs nothing for the first year and then only 30 per year thereafter. Business drivers will pay a low 13% (the lowest rate, in fact, for a diesel-powered car). These figures apply to the saloon, although the Tourer estate is equally tax- and fuel-efficient.

Prices for these new Avensis models kick-off at 18,450 for the saloon and 19,485 for the estate; and there's a 32 variant line-up that sees prices top out at 27,210 for the 2.2-litre saloon and 28,885 for the equivalent Tourer estate.

“Toyota claims the cost
of ownership for this
diesel unit is reduced by
2,000 over three
years/60,000 miles to give
it the best-in-class,
pence-per-mile running
costs over that period
Trim levels will be familiar to Toyota owners, with T2, TR, T4 and T Spirit specifications, all fitted with emission lowering Optimal Drive technology. Engine choices are: 145bhp 1.8 petrol; 124bhp 2.0-litre and 148bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesels. All are available with either a manual six-speeder or an automatic transmission.

For business users, the best-selling Avensis in terms of price and tax savings is the 21,525 TR 2.0-litre D-4D tested here.

The Avensis is up against a strong pack of competitors, starting with Vauxhall's Insignia and followed by the Mondeo, Volkswagen's Passat and the Honda Accord. Also mixing it in the sales fray are Audi's A4, the new BMW 3 Series, Mercedes' C-Class models, Hyundai's i40 and Kia's Optima.

The 124bhp Optimal Drive 2.0-litre D-4D engine has made remarkable gains in emissions and fuel economy: the Combined Cycle fuel figure has improved from 53.3 to 62.8mpg while the CO2 emissions have fallen from 139 to 119g/km. Toyota claims the cost of ownership for this diesel unit is reduced by 2,000 over three years/60,000 miles to give it the best-in-class, pence-per-mile running costs over that period.

Overall the latest 2.0 D-4D engine is lighter, quieter and generates more linear torque (228lb ft) — impressively, this is available from just 1,600rpm. Even with economy and emissions-biased high ratio fifth and sixth gears, it remains responsive at low revs and stays flexible at crawling speeds and in stop-start traffic.

My test drive consumption was a creditable 50.2mpg — okay, not anywhere near the official 62.8mpg but then that seems to be the case with virtually all new cars today. Top speed is 124mph with a 0-62mph time of 9.7 seconds.

On motorways, this particular engine gobbled up the miles without any fuss in a relaxed manner and without the need for frequent visits to the pumps. Refinement was generally good — under hard acceleration it just sounded slightly harsher, and the only reason it could be heard was because the road and wind noise intrusion into the car is very low.

Making the new Avensis a more rewarding drive, with better comfort levels, was a heartland goal for the development team. To help achieve this, the new Avensis has a more rigid bodyshell and benefits from changes to the front and rear suspension. Adjustments have also been made to the aerodynamics, and strategic use of extra insulation material has further reduced noise levels in the cabin.

“On motorways, this
particular engine
gobbled up the miles
without any fuss,
in a relaxed manner and
without the need for
frequent visits
to the pumps —
my test drive average
consumption was
Particular attention was paid to the electric power steering, which now has a quicker gear ratio for more direct performance and makes the Avensis more agile and manoeuvrable.

Ride comfort is also good, courtesy of the revised compliant suspension; the standard 17-inch wheels feel right for this model and I wouldn't go for larger wheels, which will unsettle the ride and control over the UK's poor road surfaces.

Bearing in mind the Avensis' principal target market is the high-mileage company car driver, comfort combined with a really practical and useful specification was a priority — consequently even the design of the front seats has been changed and they now provide better lateral support.

The interior is a bit on the bland side: black trim and cloth seats with the TR version; but there is some brightwork adding a little sparkle to the relatively sombre interior. However, all the useful business user-chooser kit can be found in this version and without paying more than is necessary.

A full set of front and side airbags is fitted as is steering assist stability control, traction control, an annoying electronic parking brake, power windows and door mirrors, AirCon, Toyota's good Touch and Go navigation system, Bluetooth, cruise control, a decent multi-speaker sound system, front fog lights, and an alarm.

There's also a good-sized boot with 509 litres of luggage space; the rear seats are easy one-touch fold-flat items that increase the load space even more.

The new Avensis is still recognisable as an Avensis, albeit with a sharper looking exterior that stands out thanks to the cleaner lines, slimmer headlights and bolder front grille.

And the Avensis now offers many more reasons to like it, particularly for heavily-taxed company car users and, of course, it's built in Britain. It serves up impressively-low-in-class emissions, low road and company car taxes and good fuel economy. It's also well equipped, comfortable and easy to drive, easily coping with the everyday needs of high-mileage drivers. Even so, it's more functional than fun — the main pleasure it gives is saving money on running costs and personal taxation. — David Miles

Toyota Avensis TR 2.0 D-4D | 21,525
Maximum speed: 124mph | 0-62mph: 9.7 seconds | Overall test MPG: 50.2mpg
Power: 124bhp | Torque: 228lb ft | CO2 119g/km