The Avensis is now more alluring

IT is expected that a massive 87 per cent of Toyota Avensis sales will go to the fleet and business market but I anticipate that the interest of private owners will increase now that the Derbyshire factory has just launched a new Avensis writes Bryan Longworth.

For while the new car is still aimed firmly at fleet and business customers I feel that more private motorists considering models like the VW Passat and Ford Mondeo will now show added interest in the new Toyota because it would make an ideal family car in my opinion especially following the launch of the latest model.

For the new Avensis has been given added all round appeal with more style that looks really good especially up front where as with the new Auris the re-styled family face has provided the car with much more street appeal than the previous rather bland model.

Because of these changes I feel that the elegant new Avensis especially the saloon I have just been testing will now appeal more to private owners as it will to those fleet and business users who will be pounding the motorways in the latest model which is an ideal car for long distance trips especially.

On test was the Avensis Business Edition Plus 1.6L D4D four door manual powered by a 1.6-litre diesel engine priced at £23,795 - the Business Edition Plus adds leather seats, excellent LED headlamps, front cornering fog lights, sat nav and an eight inch touchscreen multimedia system.

The 110bhp engine which delivered power to the front wheels through a six speed manual gearbox produced a top speed of 115mph with zero to 62mph taking 11.4 seconds and a combined fuel consumption of 67.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 109g/km.

The new engine provided relaxing driving and I liked the updated and very comfortable interior especially the instruments, switchgear and the very easy to see and use colour information screen that also includes audio controls.

The only exception was the electronic parking brake control which is hidden below and to the left of the steering wheel where it was difficult to locate and a much better location for it would have been on the central console next to the gear shift.

At the rear the 509 litre boot provides plenty of load space with a space saver spare wheel underneath and the load area is easily accessed especially for placing large suitcases in it and removing them.

The test car which looked rather cool in its dark blue paintwork was extremely well equipped with standard kit that included pre collision system with autonomous emergency braking, road sign assist, lane departure warning and automatic high beam.

It was nice to drive a saloon again and I would recommend the 1.6-litre diesel unit to any potential buyer be they private company or fleet because it was economical, smooth, quiet and perfectly up to the job of hauling the latest Avensis in all driving situations.

As I mentioned earlier the new Avensis should have more appeal to private buyers than previous models because of its added style appeal plus the five year warranty which all add up to a very good package that is now a tempting alternative to those aforementioned competitors and others.

Fact File.

Model: Toyota Avensis Business Edition Plus 1.6L D4D saloon.

Engine: 1.6-litre four cylinder diesel.

Output: 110bhp.

Transmission: Six speed manual.

Top speed: 115mph.

Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 11.4 seconds.

Fuel consumption: 67.3mpg combined.

CO2 emissions: 109g/km.

Price: £23,795 on the road.