Fleet News

Toyota Avensis 2.0 D-4D T4 - 3,067 miles

Toyota

Review

A FRIEND of mine drove an Avensis as a company car before the all-new model was launched this year and whatever he has driven since, he insists, has never matched its looks or performance.

Although in many cases looks are subjective, it is telling that now he's been given a choice once more of an upper-medium workhorse he's opted for a Ford Mondeo TDCi, not Toyota's equivalent, the D-4D.

It's in the looks, he says. And he has a point. The old Avensis had a more dynamic and rounded front-end. The new car looks more sedate and solid, not the sort of look that a 'thrusting' (his word, not mine) executive is after. It's a look more akin to the Vauxhall Vectra than the stealth-like Mondeo or Renault Laguna.

So, it doesn't say much about a car when the back end is better-looking than the front (just imagine describing a member of the opposite sex like that).

However, once you are sitting inside the swingometer goes back the other way. Our test car is probably the most comfortable I have sat in for a long time. There isn't much to do in the way of seat adjustment but I was snug and confident I could travel hundreds of miles in comfort. The seats in the Rover 75 are renowned for their comfort but the Avensis ranks alongside it.

The engine is where much attention has been focused recently, due to its Euro IV-compliant credentials and the resulting 3% reduction in benefit-in-kind tax compared to other diesels.

But while your piggy bank may have a halo-like glow, the driver in you could feel a little down in the dumps. There is little of the power surge from a standing start that you feel in some rival diesels and absolutely no comparison to the exhilarating 128bhp Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi.

Try and get the Avensis to do a bit of thrusting in first gear and you find you're pushing 4,000rpm and beginning to worry about the engine noise.

But you'll be more content cruising on a motorway. It's super-refined and unflappable. And check out the mpg rate. Toyota's combined figure is 48.7mpg.

However, although we have only managed to average 44mpg so far, on some long trips the on-board computer has been showing 50-plus mpg economy.

Such performance makes up for the lacklustre acceleration, particularly when you compare it to the Vectra 2.2 DTi with a combined figure of 43.5mpg.

The Avensis's carbon dioxide emissions are lower too – 155g/km compared to 176g/km.

It's not all good news on the financial front. CAP has dropped its residual value forecast for the car after three-years/60,000 miles by 1% or £150 since our initial report a month ago, but this can be put down to a couple of things. The car's initial 'honeymoon period' is coming to an end and it could also be due to seasonal fluctuations in the used market.

Company car tax bill 2003/04 (22% taxpayer) £43 per month

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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