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New Avensis goes for a more premium look and feel and comes with a frugal 1.6 diesel

Toyota reckon their 44,000 Irish Avensis drivers need a bit of pampering, and that's exactly what's on offer in the new model.

Launched last week in Switzerland, the Mondeo and Passat rival is promising "premium style and comfort with state-of-the-art safety" across the range.

And the good news doesn't end there, as it's even more efficient and eco-friendly with the roll-out of a new 1.6-litre D-4D diesel.

Let's start with styling. As you can see, the new offering is going for the more aggressive stand-out-from-the-crowd look. The nose has been radically altered, with a bold new grille that dominates the front and is complimented by the new headlamp clusters which extend the overall vehicle length by 40mm.

The lower grille encompasses a muscled-up and widened bumper finished in piano black, ­pushing the fog lamps to the extremities of the vehicle and emphasising its width.

At the rear, one could be forgiven for thinking there's a heavy Lexus influence at play, with wrap-around light clusters either side of a thick chrome bar running through the boot.

To cap things off, you'll be offered the choice of snazzy 16 or 17-inch alloys

Inside, though, is where Toyota is hoping to win hearts and minds with a premium new cabin.

For starters, there's a new front seat design, ideally suited to maximise comfort on long journeys.

Coupled with brighter and more robust materials (to reduce noise and vibration) and better quality switchgear, the Japanese believe they can give the Germans (Ford and VW) a real run for their money.

Safety-wise, a raft of new driver-assistance systems are fitted as standard across the range.

Toyota Safety Sense offers customers a Pre-Collision Safety system incorporating a forward collision warning and featuring autonomous emergency braking. The Luna and Sol grades also feature lane departure alert, automatic high-beam and road sign assist.

Under the hood, the new Avensis powertrain line-up has been comprehensively revised to offer customers lower fuel consumption and emissions.

The four-strong engine range features two new 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesel engines as well as 1.6-litre and 1.8-litre petrols.

The favourite here will be the 1.6-litre oil-burner, which has very impressive credentials, returning a mega 69mpg (4.1l/100kms) and 108g/km, ­meaning €190 road tax.

Prices start from just €25,870 for petrol models and €27,710 for the diesel.

Elsewhere, the Auris gets a facelift with a major revamp front and rear, most notably new LED headlamp clusters that incorporate Daytime Running Lights.

There's a choice of new alloys and a tweaked interior featuring a seven-inch touch-screen infotainment system.

Most importantly, though, is the introduction of a 1.2-litre direct injection turbo-charged engine and a new 1.6-litre D-4D unit also. The 1.4-litre D-4D engine has been substantially upgraded and features numerous enhancements to both improve performance and lower emissions.

Prices start from €20,750