Toyota Avanza 1,5 TX

The new Toyota Avanza is now available in South Africa. With an all-new look, more practicality and improved comfort all-round, it promises to deliver “so much more from a styling, refinement and comfort perspective”. Kelly Lodewyks spent a weekend with the flagship 1,5 TX version.

Looks

The new Avanza has adopted the Toyota family face that can be seen on the latest Yaris. It is a far cry from the model that it replaces and, while the previous look wasn’t offensive, it looked very much like a van and had a delivery-vehicle persona. The new version looks more like a passenger car. The large grille at the front lends it a smiley face and puts it more in line with other Toyotas. I’m not sold on the rear and profile, however. The creases at the back look more like dents than styling cues and, when viewed from the side, the large body makes the wheels look rather tiny.

Inside

The cabin is where the biggest strides have been made. The quality of the materials feel higher and the layout of the instruments are cleaner than before. There is no sign of the beige colour that haunted the cabin of the previous model. The darker interior colours give the Avanza a more upmarket feel than before.

There are seven seats to make use of. Use of the third row hampers luggage space, but it’s easy to fold own and stow away should it not be needed. Cargo space is measured at 160 cm3 with the third row in place and 740 cm3 with it stowed away. From the driver’s seat, everything is within reach and on the model I drove, there are steering-wheel mounted audio controls for added convenience.

On the road

At the launch, I drove the 1,5-litre TX model. This particular Avanza comes with a five-speed manual transmission. The engine is no ball of fire, but it’s not expected to be one. The short gearing may prove nippy around town, but on the open road it means that the engine gets loud and you may find yourself searching for an extra gear. I kept the car at a constant speed between 100  and 120 km/h, and at some point it was revving well over 4 000 r/min.

Driving the challenging Franschhoek Pass proved an interesting exercise. As a result of the heavy foot needed to gain momentum at some points and lots of cog changes between hills and corners, fuel economy took a bit of a beating. I ended the launch with an average consumption figure of 8,9 litres/100 km according to the trip read-out.

The power steering and tight turning circle mean the Avanza is easy to park and manoeuvre. Like the model it replaces, it still feels a little top heavy and battles to deal with crosswinds. But it’s not unsettling. The launch activities saw the Avanza tackle gravel roads quite often. I found the ride quality to be acceptable for a vehicle such as this. The suspension is a setup of MacPherson struts up front and a four-link with lateral rod at the rear. It also has reworked shock absorber rebound rates and wider tyre treads for added ride comfort.

Range and kit

There are five passenger Avanza models to choose from:

Avanza 1,3 S – R155 900
Avanza 1,3 SX – R168 800
Avanza 1,5 SX – R175 500
Avanza 1,5 SX AT – R189 600
Avanza 1,5 TX – R202 200

Standard features across the range include ABS with EBD, remote central locking, power steering, immobiliser, electric windows and dual airbags. Moving up a spec level adds electric mirrors and an adjustable third row of seats. All except the entry-level Avanza come fitted with an audio system. The TX level has a USB connection, air-con vents in the second row, a rear-mounted spoiler, and upgraded sound system, foglamps, a high-mounted third brake lamp, trip computer and 15-inch alloy wheels. For a full specification list, click on the documents tab in the top right-hand corner of the image block and download the sheet.

Overall

The Avazna has to be assessed in perspective. Potential buyers will more than likely be looking for a practical vehicle with a generous amount of space, good driver and passenger comfort, as well as a good standard safety package, all of which can be found in this vehicle. If you’re looking for a seven-seater and can ignore the loud engine and short gear ratios, the Avanza should be on your shopping list.

Specification

Engine: 1,5-litre, four-cylinder petrol
Power: 76 kW at 6 000 r/min
Torque: 136 N.m at 4 400 r/min
0-100 km/h: 11,9 seconds
Fuel consumption: 7,2 litres/100 km
CO2: 168 g/km
Price: R202 200
Service plan: four years/60 000 km
Service intervals: 15 000 km