Avanza, with attitude
Toyota has refreshed its Avanza range of panel vans and people movers, giving these vehicles a more menacing appearance and a host of safety and engine upgrades. GAVIN MYERS drove the range-topping 1.5 TX.
Undoubtedly the leader in its segment, the Toyota Avanza was always a good-value package. It might have been seen (literally) to be lacking in a certain area, though; that of its oddball looks.
The designers, it must be said, have addressed that in totality with this update. The sharper front-end treatment is now more in line with Toyota’s latest corporate design language. It is accentuated on the TX with a piano-black grille finish, bold chrome detailing and integrated fog lamps – the overall design is much more stylish than before. TX models also sport 15-inch alloy wheels and a roof spoiler.
The interior has also received some nice upgrades. Chief among these are the split third row of seats, which, like their second-row counterparts, are adjustable to a range of configurations.
This practicality is tied in with good passenger space up front and in the second row, though taller adults will find third-row accommodation tight. ISOFIX child-seat anchorage and driver and passenger airbags are standard.
Drivers now enjoy automatic window operation, while an integrated four-speaker audio system (with auxiliary and USB connectivity) and revised dials bring a more streamlined look to the facia. Pity Toyota didn’t redesign the fiddly, unintuitive ventilation controls.
A new 1,5-litre engine powers the TX Avanza and manages well with its 77 kW and 137 Nm power and torque outputs. While the engine is rough at high revs, it is smooth and quiet low down – good news considering you don’t need to rev it hard to make progress.
This could be due to the relatively short gearing, which leaves the motor buzzing away in the region of 4 000 r/min at highway speeds. Nonetheless, Toyota claims the 1,5-litre Avanza will consume just 6,3 l/100 km, while we managed a good 8,2.
The anti-lock brakes have also been upgraded to include Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD).
Toyota has taken the opportunity to upgrade the suspension as well, which aids noise levels and ride comfort. Where the Avanza really impresses, though, is its easy manoeuvrability. Its exceptionally tight turning circle makes city driving and parking a cinch.
Included in the R251 700 list price are a three-year/100 000 km warranty and a four-year/60 000 km service plan. While more refined rivals from Volkswagen and Ford are available, the Avanza’s keen pricing, smart new look and updated features are sure to earn it even more favour among buyers.