Ten Point Test

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 82%

While the Toyota Avensis is an incredibly competent car offering space, practicality and Japanese reliability – it has lacked performance and sex appeal.

With the all-new T180 spec, the Avensis boasts hot hatch performance in a saloon shell.

But with this added oomph, would a buyer choose it over the all-new Ford Mondeo – the family saloon and sales reps’ yardstick? We borrowed one for a week to find out.

1. Looks 7/10

Not always seen as the sexiest of cars, our Avensis – in black – is a more aggressive-looking beast. Thanks to its T180 badge, the Toyota has been treated to a few sporty features including bespoke smoked-metal 17-inch alloy wheels and a distinctive dark grey front grille. Its discreet sportiness is a definite plus.

2. Looks inside 7/10

Inside, the Avensis has been kitted out with swaths of leather and Alcantara. The centre console is dominated by a 6.5-inch touch screen for the sat-nav and sound system. The dials are easy to understand and are lit up by a bright orange glow. Complementing the leather are faux chrome panels, which have a positive effect on the darker colours.

3. Practicality 9/10

The Avensis has an enormous boot boasting 510 litres of space. We comfortably carried three golf bags and still had room to spare. Inside, driver and passengers have plenty of legroom which makes long journeys – with a full load – easy and enjoyable. The Avensis also has little cubby holders dotted all over the place along with a large pocket in between the driver and front passenger’s seats.

4. Ride and Handling 8/10

Toyota claim the Avensis’s suspension has been tuned to allow less road noise, improved ride comfort and better cornering and braking stability. Road noise could be improved at motorway speed but handling is fun and can be driven hard through corners without too many worries.

5. Performance 9/10

Toyota has fitted the Avensis we drove with a high-powered 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine. Producing 175bhp and 295lb/ft of pulling power the Avensis accelerates from 0-62mph (100kph) in an impressive 8.6 seconds before running on to a top speed of 137mph. When putting your foot down you can feel the optimum pull from the engine at 2,000rpm and it’s enough to push your head into the back of your seat. The engine mated with a six-speed gearbox is a joy to use and incredibly smooth and refined.

6. Running Costs 8/10

While it’s hot hatch quick, the diesel engine is frugal managing a combined 46.3mpg. And with the advanced engine emitting just 161g/km of carbon dioxide, tax bills are fairly low with the Chancellor placing it in VED band D, meaning an annual bill of £165.

7. Reliability 9/10

Toyotas are solid cars with a great name for reliability. Over the past decade, the Toyota Avensis is rated as the 32nd most reliable car on Britain’s roads, ahead of many of its rivals. The Avensis is a well-built car with hard wearing, well-fitted plastics. When you buy a Toyota you get 12 months free membership of Club Toyota which entitles you to free RAC Roadside Assistance in the UK and Europe. All Toyotas come with a three year / 60,000 mile manufacturer warranty.

8. Safety 10/10

All models in the Avensis are stacked with safety features including nine airbags. In the EuroNCAP crash test programme, the Avensis was awarded five stars. Driver aids include anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist which help control braking in all conditions such as high speed and when driving on poor road surfaces. In addition, the front seats have sensors which detect when someone is sitting in them and let off a signal if a seat belt isn’t being worn.

9. Equipment 8/10

Our top of the range T180 was well equipped and boasted all-round electric windows, electric mirrors and dual air-conditioning. The excellent sat-nav was also standard on the top models a. For an additional £495, buyers can opt for the Protection Pack which includes rear parking sensors, front and rear mudflaps and boot protection. You can also choose metallic paint for an extra £350.

10. X-Factor 7/10

Family saloons are never the most desirable cars as they are seen for their practicality and comfort over long miles rather than for their coolness and performance. But the divide between fun and sensible has been bridged with the Avensis T180 which is fast, frugal, practical and reliable.

Key facts

Model tested: Toyota Avensis 2.2D-4D T180 hatchback
On the road price: £21,520
Price range: £14,010 – £21,520
Date tested: August 2007
Road tester: Adrian Hearn