Toyota puts boot in

for saloon fans

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

IF you like a bit of fantasy footy literature get hold of The Blinder by recently deceased author Barry Hines.

Published in 1966, it is the ripping yarn of a northern lad gifted with both soccer skills beyond his sixth-form years and an ability to pull the ladies.

In one delightful passage our hero is enjoying a steamy clinch with one of his teachers behind her sofa when he explains why his preferred position l'amour should be likened to a delicious boiled sweet of the time.

Please hold this thought as we progress through today's passionate embrace of the Toyota Avensis, it will come in handy towards the climax of the review. So to speak.

For whatever reason, financial,multiple occupancy or simply availability, the majority of cars we see on the roads are more than a little on the practical side. Without the joy of split rear seat and hatchback tailgate where would we be?

Well I'll tell you. In a saloon.

Remember them? No double-depth boot or overhead storage, distinct lack of MPV-ism, not a third row of seats in sight and no marketing suggestion that is just the place to stick your canoe.

Nope. Five seats, four doors and a tin lid. Not everyone has the need to carry a buggy or spend weekends touring the mountains with the family mutt like a displaced episode of one man and his dog.

Specifically this is the two-litre D-4D six-speed manual Business Edition, which is pretty much self explanatory: a reasonable price tag at £23,650, potentially excellent average mpg of 63mpg and beneficial tax levels in band C or £30 a year at the moment. The car's coomputer told me I was to receive no cigar having achieved an average of 46mpg.

At the time of writing the important benefit in kind figures are not confirmed. Panama, you understand.

The 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel engines are new to the Avensis and the bigger one is not exactly like dung off a fork at 9.5 seconds to 62mph. But no matter, as I pointed out to the good wife, if you had wanted a sports model there were plenty to choose from.

For our man on the motorway with the Ginsters pastie and a deadline to meet it represents an easygoing ride with ample power and plenty of essentials. The cabin is well finished without going over the top in the leatherette department.

More importantly, for high-mileage drivers, it comes with a lot of safety kit like pre-collision warning, emergency braking kicks in when you decide to laugh at that, automatic high beam and the inevitably annoying lane departure beeper which you can find the control to easily to switch it off. It is with the steering wheel repeater buttons.

Of course, you may never have considered a career in toilet paper sales so how does the Avensis work as a family car?

Well, it is a comfortable drive and should you have a flash of enthusiasm, stable incorners although with some degree of lean. It is with the family owner that the comforts of a drag and flick multi-media system, automatic essentials like lights and wipers and navigation will be most appreciated.

There is plenty of room for three tall ones in the back and the boot almost has its own echo. A good looking car, too but not head turning.

Points against? The cabin has been redesigned but do not expect to be rendered breathless by its sheer sex appeal. You will be tuned in more than turned on.

Overall, however, this is a very good four-door and a business and taxi favourite.

To you a good old booted saloon may be as much use as a punctured football. Others see it as the equivalent of the The Blinder's behind the couch. Nuttall's Mintoes. Original and best.

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