Posted on 18 Aug 2011 at 10:08, by Nick Gibbs
Toyota has a reputation for producing dependable and useful family cars. The latest Avensis Saloon and Tourer is all of those things, but this time adds a splash of style courtesy of designers working out of the Japanese firm’s ED2 studio in the south of France.
If its glance-stealing looks are pretty obvious from the outset, you have to live with it a bit to appreciate the Avensis’s other strengths, chiefly the use of technology to deliver its impressive safety, comfort and fuel economy without sacrificing power.
The engine line-up is well tuned to the current buyers’ concerns. The two petrol models – a 1.6 and a 1.8 – come fitted with Valvematic technology that reduces consumption to an impressive 43mpg overall for both.
Essentially it’s a smarter version of the old VVTi variable valve timing system, this time engineered to avoid wasting valuable energy spent dragging the pistons down with the valves closed (imagine pulling a bicycle pump with a finger on the end).
This helps create a free-revving unit with plenty of power (130bhp in the 1.6 and 147 for the 1.8), but without the emissions that bigger petrol engines get penalised for. The resulting 152 and 154g/km CO2 figures are very good for this class, with the added bonus that the 1.8’s optional Multidrive S automatic gearbox’s continuously variable technology cap the CO2 figures to just 157g/km.
The two diesel engines cut those carbon dioxide figures further, with the two-litre posting 139g/km and fuel economy of 53mpg, with the 2.2-litre achieving 51mpg. Both are impressively gutsy on the road, but the bigger engine is a revelation for its acceleration. The 0-62mph figure of 8.9seconds only tells half the story – put your foot down for an overtake and you’d swear there was a GTI badge on the back.
This engine also receives that rare thing: an automatic gearbox on a diesel. The six-speeder is smart enough to memorise your driving style to shift when you think it should, or you can change gear yourself using the paddles behind the wheel.
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