Toyota’s third-generation Avensis has been around since 2009, and since then many of its rivals have been heftily upgraded or completely replaced.
With it now looking and feeling a little long in the tooth, and without the emissions and economy to appeal to private and company car drivers alike, Toyota has set about revising its practical estate for 2015.
Key changes to the facelifted Avensis include new exterior and interior styling, more efficient diesel engines and upgraded trim. All models now get Toyota's Safety Sense system as standard, which adds lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, automatic headlight dipping and an emergency braking system.
What's the 2015 Toyota Avensis Touring Sports like to drive?
The Avensis is a very easy and hassle-free car to drive. If you want something that will soak up mile after mile on the motorway, with minimal effort, in comfort and comparative silence, then this is a decent option. The ride is smooth, the controls are well weighted and the seats supportive. Only some wind noise spoils the otherwise pleasant ambience.
Toyota has revised the suspension and steering for the 2015 model year, and the changes have made the Avensis better to drive. There's plenty of grip and the Toyota always feels composed and secure. It’s not going to trouble a Mondeo, in terms of driver engagement, but then few cars like this are bought for their outright cornering capability.
It’s not all good news, however. While the new 1.6-litre diesel might look competitive on paper, in the real world it feels short of pulling power. It’s not as flexible as the cleaner 1.6-litre diesel found in the Skoda Octavia, or the identically efficient and much more powerful 2.2-litre diesel in the Mazda 6, and if you’re driving on twisty roads or up inclines you’ll be forced to change gear many times.
This makes it more tiring to drive than some of its rivals. The standard six-speed manual gearbox is a slick enough affair, though, so gear changes are quick and easy.
The engine’s saving grace is that it is quiet and smooth, even when worked hard. During our test it returned an indicated 46mpg, which is at least on a par with its more potent rivals, meaning a full tank should grant the Avensis a useful range of around 600 miles.
What's the 2015 Toyota Avensis Touring Sports like inside?
Toyota’s cabins are generally comfortable and well designed, but often lacking in the visual flair and quality feel offered by rivals. Fortunately, the company has done a lot here to improve the Avensis’s previously dour cabin.
An all-new dashboard, replete with a smart driver’s information display and media system, and new seats, have lifted the ambiance of the cabin significantly. It feels suitably hardwearing, too, but it’s annoying to find that there are still some particularly low-quality finishes in key places.
For example, the door grab handles are made out of a hard, glossy plastic that isn’t particularly tactile, and easily attracts greasy marks. There’s plenty of easily accessed and comfortable space both front and rear, however, and the boot almost rivals that of the Ford Mondeo Estate for space.
You’ll find plenty of cubbyholes in the cabin, too, and a large glovebox. It’s pleasing to find a space-saver spare wheel standard across the range, too, as opposed to the oft-useless tyre repair kits. Little touches like this can make a car so much easier to live with.
We tested a Business Edition Plus variant, which comes with an impressive level of kit as standard. Highlights include sat-nav, dual-zone climate, cruise control, a DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and automatic lights and wipers.
There’s a vast amount of safety equipment as well, including automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance.The new Avensis hasn't been crash tested yet, but Toyota expects it to attain the maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP testing.
Should I buy one?
As an ownership proposition, the Avensis Touring Sports offers much of merit. It is practical, safe, well equipped, cheap to run and easy to drive. When you consider the standard five-year, 100,000-mile warranty, it appears to make a lot of sense.
It is only the engine that really lets it down, as it's not as clean or as powerful as those offered in many of its rivals; this makes it hard to recommend for both cash buyers and company car drivers alike. Those who buy one won't be disappointed, though, but there are better options elsewhere.
What Car? says...
Toyota Avensis Touring Sports
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £24,975
Torque 199lb ft
0-62mph 11.7 seconds
Top speed 114mph
Fuel economy 67.3mpg