Fleet News

Toyota goes for double debut

TWO Toyota models made their world debuts at the Geneva Motor Show - the Previa MPV and RAV4 4x4 - as the manufacturer continues its programme of introducing seven new models in 2000. And with its luxury stablemate - Lexus - set to launch four new models in the next 12 months, the Japanese car company says that by the end of this year the average age of its product line-up will be 18 months compared to 42 months at present.

Already revealed by Toyota are the Yaris Verso, facelifted Corolla and the MR2 Roadster and the hybrid Prius will be quickly followed by the UK arrival of the Previa in June/July and the three- and five-door RAV4 in August. The seventh new vehicle is being kept secret, although it will not be the Yaris cabriolet revealed in concept form at the show. The all-new Previa benefits from Toyota's so-called 'sharp edge design' reminiscent of Ford's 'new edge design'.

The Previa was the second MPV to enter the now crowded sector when it was launched a decade ago and Toyota chiefs claim a number of class-leading facts for the new car, including interior space and low noise. The MPV is presently only available in the UK with a 2.4-litre petrol engine, but the new model will come with the option of either a new 20% more powerful and 16% more fuel efficient 156bhp 2.4-litre VVTi (variable valve timing-intelligent) petrol engine or the 2.0-litre common rail diesel engine recently introduced in the Avensis.

Able to carry six to eight people, the move to front-wheel drive on the new Previa and increased wheelbase has boosted interior space. It will be available as a manual and automatic and with fuel economy improvement of about 15% over the outgoing model. Meanwhile, when the new RAV4 goes on sale the present one-engine line-up will be extended to include a 125bhp 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol VVTi options and the 2.0-litre diesel in three- and five-door options.

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