REVIEW DATE: 27 Jun 2007
The value-added Avensis TR models illustrate just why so many business users are going for Toyota's medium range model. Jonathan Crouch reports
Toyota's Avensis has been a surprise hit in the business sector, particularly amongst small fleets. Models like the value-packed TR variant illustrate just why.
The nation's fleet managers tend to be fairly black and white when it comes to investing in new cars. Their primary concerns as they sit behind their desks feverishly tapping away at their calculator key pads are costs - purchase costs, running costs, depreciation costs. Fleet customers will take the most cost-effective car on the table every time.
Bearing this in mind, perhaps the Avensis' success isn't so surprising. It is, after all, the most cost-effective car in its sector to run, to fix and to sell on. That it's also the most refined and offers the best feeling of perceived quality is just an added bonus.
Added bonuses are what the Avensis TR models are all about. Toyota offer up a choice of three engines in this particular line-up. The 129bhp 1.8-litre VVT-i unit manages 0-60mph in 10.3s and a 124mph top speed but the diesels are better if you can afford them. The 130bhp 2.0-litre D4-D (0-60mph in 10.6s and 124mph top speed) is slower than the petrol but its performance is more accessible, the powerful torque giving punchy responses low down in the rev range. The range-topper is the 150bhp 2.2-litre D-4D (9.3s 0-60mph and 130mph top speed) and this unit is stronger still with real urge for overtaking.
What really sells this car is its inherent quality. The doors thunk shut like a Lexus and it was to their luxury division that Toyota looked to imbue the Avensis interior with a genuinely upmarket feel. It seems to have worked. Soft touch plastics, neat metallic finishes and a huge cabin make the Avensis feel a class up. Factor in the lofty equipment levels of the TR models and the upmarket impression is magnified.
"The value for money angle is sewn up comprehensively .."
Specification is the nuts and bolts of the Avensis TR's compelling value proposition. Buyers get the basics like alloy wheels, front fog lamps, cruise control, climate control, rain-sensing wipers and a leather trimmed steering wheel. You also get the intriguingly-named dusk-sensing headlamps but thankfully, the implication that these automatic lights can't identify dawn has no basis. On top of all this, the TR model adds an advanced full map satellite navigation system with a 6.5" touch screen display.
There's the choice of three bodystyles with the Avensis TR and Toyota is keen to emphasise the fact that whether you go for the saloon, hatch or tourer estate, you'll be getting one of the sector's best choices on grounds of sheer value for money. Take the 2.0-litre D-4D TR model. Its £18,545 asking price is slightly up on equivalent versions of Volkswagen's Passat, Vauxhall's Vectra and Renault's Laguna but only the Laguna has sat nav and it lacks cruise and climate control while all the others do without the automatic wipers and headlamps. The equivalent Ford Mondeo misses out on the wipers and headlamps as well but it's more expensive than the Avensis TR and once again, there's no sat nav. Although the Peugeot 407 has the full complement of features, it comes in at £300 more than the Avensis. You'll need a lot more detail than this of course, so if you're considering this car as part of a small fleet of up to 25 vehicles in your business, it's well worth contacting your local Toyota dealership's Business Centre.
The D-4D diesels do the fuel economy thing very effectively with the more powerful 2.2-litre car capable of averaging 48mpg and the 2.0-litre alternative upping that figure to 51mpg. With CO2 emissions for the two at 156g/km and 146g/km respectively, the running costs should be pleasantly low. The 1.8-litre alternative returns 39mpg on the combined cycle and produces 171g/km.
Go for the Tourer estate variant and of course, there's plenty of added practicality. There's 520 litres of space on offer with the rear seats in place, rising to 1500 litres when they're folded flat: good enough to get close to the class leaders in other words, if not quite to match them. A section of the load floor can be lifted to reveal a hidden storage tray, big enough to accommodate the luggage cover when not in use. An integrated partition net can be added to this cover to stop shopping bags crashing into garden centre produce and vica versa. Moreover, the luggage floor itself can be folded to create separate storage compartments, while tie-downs and shopping hooks are there to ensure that with loads both large and small, delicate items can be carried safely.
Business and private buyers who may previously have overlooked the Avensis have reason to give the car far more careful consideration now that the TR models are installed in the range. The value for money angle is sewn up comprehensively by the inclusion of satellite navigation on top of the generous standard specification for a modest increase in price. With the refinement and comfort of the basic Avensis package plus some capable engine choices, the TR has plenty to recommend it.
The results below show the top TOYOTA deals on buyacar
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|Price £16,978||Save £4,891|
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