Toyota Avensis 1.6

D-4D Business

Edition Plus

Toyota Avensis, front
Toyota Avensis, front
Toyota Avensis, front
Toyota Avensis, side
Toyota Avensis, rear
Toyota Avensis, interior
Toyota Avensis, sat nav
Toyota Avensis, boot
Toyota Avensis, interior

THERE can be little doubt as to who a car is aimed at when the words Business Edition appear in its name.

The fleet market easily commands the largest proportion of Toyota Avensis sales, so it's no surprise that the Japanese car maker is playing strongly to the company crowd with this year's significantly revamped version of its flagship saloon.

A sharp new-look, although stylish, has a distinctly corporate and understated feel while the interior, with extra space and comfort, remains functional and businesslike.

There are also a couple of new, smaller capacity, diesel engines offering the sort of improved fuel economy that has fleet managers rubbing their hands together.

Toyota's now familiar Active and Excel grades mark the entry point and top of the new-look range but are joined by new Business Edition and Business Edition Plus versions at the heart of the line-up, and likely to be the big sellers.

Looks-wise the new Avensis has been brought into line with the rest of the restyled Toyota range and has a fresher, more modern appearance.

A smaller, more discreet upper grille is flanked by narrower LED headlights, making room for a much more muscular lower grille which spans a gloss black bumper and pushes the fog lamps further apart - creating a wider looking, more planted stance.

Along the flanks the strong, rising shoulder line of the previous version remains and at the rear there are new LED tail-lights, while the car has been stretched by 40mm.

There are also two new diesel engines which follow the current trend for downsizing power plants - 1.6 and 2.0-litre units replacing the previous 2.0 and 2.2 - while a tweaked 1.8-litre unit is the sole petrol option.

The 110bhp, 1.6-litre diesel I drove is the lower powered of the three, taking more than 11 seconds to get from a standstill to 62mph.

A top speed of 115mph is reasonable enough, though, and the car rarely felt slow during my week behind the wheel - but you do have to work the smooth six-speed manual transmission for sharp injections of pace.

Average fuel economy of 67 miles per gallon and low emissions and insurance ratings also mean that this will be the cheapest Avensis to run.

Driving this car won't set the pulse racing - but it is a relaxing and enjoyable experience thanks to light and accurate steering and a settled and comfortable ride. It's also quiet and refined, especially when cruising, which means that longer trips don't become a chore.

The interior of the new Avensis has been extensively updated in the same understated way as the exterior.

The dashboard is clean and uncluttered with large, easy-to-use switches and a new new eight-inch colour touchscreen, on all but entry-level models, as its centrepiece.

Re-designed front seats and an increased use of soft-touch finishes also help to give the cabin a more upmarket feel than before, with my Business Edition Plus car also benefitting from two-tone leather and alcantara upholstery.

There's ample space for four adults to spread out and a flat rear footwell means that five will be OK on shorter journeys. Personal storage provision is good and the boot sizeable enough, although the saloon format means loading it is trickier than with a hatchback-style tailgate.

Equipment levels across the range have been enhanced and, once above the entry grade, certainly befit the Avensis' business-class aspirations - although with air conditioning, cruise control, LED running lights, Bluetooth and USB as standard even Active cars are pretty well kitted out.

Business Edition Plus trim gets you satnav, digital radio, reversing camera, automatic lights and wipers, rear privacy glass and keyless entry and ignition.

All models also get a pre-collision system with automatic emergency braking and stability control on top of all the usual safety features, with higher grades adding a lane departure warning system.

FAST FACTS

Toyota Avensis 1.6 D-4D Business Edition Plus

Price: £23,955

Mechanical: 110bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 115mph

0-62mph: 11.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 67.3

Insurance Group: 12

C02 emissions: 109g/km

Bik rating: 19%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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