New Avensis gets leaner, greener and a bit meaner

Philip Hedderman

Say what you like, but a good reputation is hard to beat and is just as difficult to acquire.

Yes, accolades like that don't come easy -- just ask Toyota.

The Avensis is a prime example. It has taken almost 30 years to earn that kind of street cred and they'll be the first to tell you it wasn't easy.

It all began with the birth the Corona in 1984 which then became the Carina, then the Carina II and eventually the Carina E in 1992.

The E proved a phenomenal success here and became the benchmark for others to aspire to.

The massive saloon was practically indestructible and many a taxi driver will swear that a better car has not been built since.

It offered comfortable, spacious, reliable motoring at a reasonable price.

Two parts of that equation appealed to the masses -- reliability and affordability.

The Japanese car giant had cracked it and the No1 slot on the bestsellers list beckoned.

In the meantime we all got richer, fatter and accustomed to a little bit of luxury.

Enter the Avensis which was positively sumptuous compared to its workhorse predecessor and the success story grew and grew.


The motoring press and punters alike were blown away by the MkII in 2003 which ticked all the right boxes while offering one of the best diesel engines in the D4D.

The downside though was drive dynamic or lack of it which had become the buzzword around smaller rivals like the legendary Focus.

Even though it was missing the killer blow it didn't reflect in sales and if blandness was a crime it was merely a misdemeanor in Irish buyers' books.

Toyota, to be fair, tried to rectify this when the new model made its debut in 09 and came with beefed-up engines including a 1.8 petrol with 145bhp under the bonnet.

Three years on and she's in for a refit with a bolder look, thanks to a more aggressive front with slimmer headlights and a larger, pronounced grille.

But it is under the hood where you'll see the real changes delivering significant improvements in both emissions and economy.

CO2 has been reduced by a massive 14pc (or a whole tax band) and the 124bhp diesel with a reading of 120g/km now enjoys the lowest road tax of €160 a year while returning an astounding 53mpg.

Inside gets a bit of added bling too with the top of the range Luna model we tested getting leather steering wheel, colour reversing camera, rear and side window blinds, Bluetooth and cruise control.

It drives better too with improved suspension making the ride much more comfortable and lighter steering giving more connectivity with the road.

So it is leaner, greener and a little bit meaner but not mean enough to add that bit of character which it still so badly needs.

That said, with a starting price of €25,450, I doubt many will really care about character.