Flat batteries and punctures have afflicted some of the long term fleet recently, but the Avensis is still going strong.

But that’s not to say it’s been completely without fault. Stuart Milne, deputy web editor lifts the lid – and the bonnet – on the Avensis after 8,000 miles.

Likes:

Wall flower: A flash car is good in theory, but you can’t help wondering if it’s getting the wrong sort of attention. No such problems with the Avensis – its presence provokes very little reaction.

Ride: I’ve been driving other cars recently, and by comparison they all fail to cosset in the way the Avensis does.

Dislikes:

Looks: It might not provoke the ‘wrong’ sort of reaction, but it doesn’t provoke the ‘right’ sort either.

Push button handbrake: Driving an Audi recently shows how it should be done – positioned well, with a feature that applies it automatically; perfect for parking and stop-start traffic.

Just after our 7,000th mile, I needed to pull over and pop the bonnet for the very first time.

But that’s not through mechanical fault; more a bird’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. Part way through cleaning a maelstrom of smeared bugs and bird poo from the windscreen, the contents of the windscreen washer bottle ran out, leaving me with a manky mess on the glass.

So a journey home saw a quick visit to the jetwash to blast it – and the astonishing amount of brake dust the Avensis accumulates – off, and fill up the washer bottle.

It’s incredible how much plastic there is under the bonnet of modern cars. There’s virtually no engine to be seen and is likely to put off all but the most dedicated home servicer when the car is out of warranty.

But it does brighten up an otherwise dull engine bay – the diesel four-pot is hardly a vision of chromed V8 loveliness.

View our Toyota Avensis long termer slide show

The second little hiccup is another petrol station-based problem.

We’ve all been there. In a hurry for an appointment and the fuel gauge dips to empty. Now I never entirely trust digital fuel gauges, like the Avensis’ because you don’t get a sense of where the real fuel level lies within the ‘block’ you’re on at the time.

So the inevitable happened. I’m running late, the gauge dips and I’m apparently running on fumes. To work out whether I can get there without filling up, I flick the trip computer to display the car’s range. It reads ‘0 miles’.

Damn.

So I dive into the local garage for a splash and dash, loading enough fuel to make a difference to the car’s admittedly small fuel tank. But after giving it a few miles to wake up, the display is still sat at zero, despite the tank now reading a quarter full.

This lasted for a day-and-a-bit; and just when I was planning a visit to the local Toyota dealer, the display sorted itself out. Strange.

But if that’s the biggest mechanical foible yet encountered, it bodes very well for the long-term reliability of the Avensis.

I’m handing it over to editor Adrian Higgins for a couple of months, so he’ll be giving you a second opinion soon.

Key Facts

Toyota Avensis
Mileage: 6,456
Average speed: 32mph
Fuel consumption: 41.2mpg
Insurance: 8E
Price: £23,030 on the road
Options fitted: Premium navigation and audio with music hard drive and rear parking camera (£1,500+VAT)