To appreciate the all-new Toyota Avanza one needs to put all prejudices aside and accept it for what it is â€“ an affordable family MPV. Sporting the new family face of Toyota the Avanza looks more refined than its predecessor with large windows forming part of its visual identity.
The storage capabilities are exceptional. Put to the test the Avanzaâ€™s storage abilities coped well with a small family trip to Hermanus, effortlessly consuming my luggage, my wifeâ€™s luggage and all the baby equipment.
Two engine offerings are available: a 1.3-litre and 1.5-litre. Both engines are equipped with VVT-i and are carry overs from the previous generation. The 1.3-litre is good for 67kW and 113Nm while the 1.5-litre produces a generous 76kW and 136Nm. Even though both engines are down on power the vehicle weight has been reduced by 20kg improving performance and fuel consumption figures over its predecessor.
Both engines are mated to a five-speed manual with a four-speed automatic gearbox optional on the range-topping TX model. One qualm: the engine is very noisy especially when driving at 120kph in top gear; an extra cog would be most appreciated and will no doubt benefit fuel consumption too. Other than that, 1.5-litre could do with a bit more torque as I often found myself gearing down to make it up hills. I can only imagine how the 1.3-litre will suffer with inclines.
On the long road, the Avanza drives well but its van-like proportions means it does move around quite noticeably in the wind. That said, the ride is always comfortable, it handles well and never suffers too much from excessive body roll. This is thanks to a revised suspension setup comprising a MacPherson strut front and multi-link with lateral rod rear.
The TX model also comes with an integrated four-speaker sound system with steering controls, a USB/auxiliary/iPod port and a dual-zone climate control air conditioning system with separate rear roof vents for rear passengers.
On the safety front the Avanza is fitted with ABS with EBD and dual front airbags. As for pricing â€“ well, the base Avanza 1.3 S starts at R155 900 with that number climbing to R202 200 for the TX model. This means the Avanza is cheaper than its closest competitor, the Nissan Livina, but ultimately lacks the Livinaâ€™s rugged and utilitarian appearance.
All Avanza models come with a four-year/60 000 km ToyotaCare Service Plan included in the purchase price (service intervals are every 15 000 km), along with Toyota’s comprehensive three-year/100 000 km warranty.
FOR: Loads of space and storage options
AGAINST: Interior is very plastic and lacks the finish of rivals
PICK OF THE RANGE: 1.5 TX
ALTERNATIVE CHOICES: NISSAN LIVINA
TOPCAR RATING: 6.5/10