DESPITE the recent growth of new styled cars called crossovers, mini Sports Utility Vehicles, Active models and the like it's nice to see the enthusiasm for the traditional estate car carries on unabated.
Trends and fashions come and go but the good old fashioned estate lives on although most car makers have pushed them up market a bit, and now call them Tourers.
Nevertheless, they remain essentially what they were originally when first created back in the 1920s.
Practical and versatile they stay with the essence on load carrying capacity but with a few more mod cons on board than those early days models.
Nowadays, they are primarily aimed at company car drivers and larger families who need all the space for trundling around with the usual household family clutter.
With this in mind it was hardly surprising that when Toyota came round to upgrading the Avensis they introduced a pair of special estate cars called the Business Edition Tourer aimed specifically at the company car sector.
Company fleet managers are a hardened bunch when it comes to selecting cars for business use so car makers know that they have to offer models with all the latest high tech gismos on board, comfort and smart interiors for employees spending a great deal of time on the road. They also have to be economical to run.
Toyota's Avensis Business Tourers do just that and recent changes have seen a pair of new, quieter, cleaner and more fuel efficient diesel engines introduced, both courtesy of BMW and seen in the 318d, which are a 1.6-litre 110bhp and a 2.0-litre 141bhp power train.
The latter one is the more attractive for most company car drivers not just because it has that extra power under the bonnet but it will returned a combined fuel return of 61.4mpg, has a CO2 of only 120g/km, sits in insurance group 16E, has a VED band of C and works out at only 22% Benefit in Kind when it comes to pay income tax.
On top of that main service intervals are now 25,000 miles and all comes with a five years/100,000 miles warranty and this Tourer offers 543 litres of luggage space, increased to 1,609 litres with the rear seats easily folded down.
The load deck area itself is nice and flat with a low sill entry making it easy to put heavier items in and out while underneath is a small hidden compartment for other bits and pieces.
This is all very good of course but at the end of the day what's the Tourer like on the road?
Driving the 141bhp version over some 700 miles of motoring, involving long motorway runs and two stop-start heavy traffic routes across central London and back it was refreshingly relaxing, noticeably far more quiet and refined compared to the previous two-litre diesel.
In terms of fuel consumption it didn't quite match up to the combined 61.4mpg claimed but at 55.7mpg it was good enough but as a driver the other big plus point with this new diesel engine is that it makes the car easier and more relaxing to drive with no need to work the engine to get a decent response when accelerating.
With 320Nm of torque (i.e. pulling power) at between 1,750 and 2,500rpm it had exceptionally good low down power for movin away from traffic lights with ease and the new six-speed gearbox also helps here because it's more flexible and lighter than the previous set up.
With stop/start as standard that obviously helps economy and it's other plus point from a driver's viewpoint is that the Avensis now has much better mid range acceleration with sensibly use of the gears. This is a noticeable improvement over the old two-litre engine in my book.
Inside the overall ambience of the cabin has been improved with softer-touch materials used, a much better laid out dashboard for the driver with all the controls and dials easily placed for quick use.
Naturally business users demand more home comforts on board and even in the basic Avensis Business Edition Tourer the standard level is impressive with Toyota's Touch 2 with Go Plus touch screen multimedia and sat nav system with an eight-inch display, reversing camera, rain-sensing wipers, automatic air conditioning and 17-inch alloy wheels.
Opt for the slightly dearer Plus version and you gain leather upholstery, front fog lamps with self-cornering function, LED headlamps, smart entry and rear privacy glass.
Pricewise these new Avensis Business Tourers stack up well again the opposition with the pair of two-litre powered models coming in at an on-the-road price of £24,265 with the Plus version at £26,425.