Two of Toyota’s most important models have had a dramatic makeover inside and out to keep pace with rivals, and Auto Express was granted privileged access to the British-built Avensis and Auris to get the full story ahead of their summer launch.
Both cars are the result of a £150million investment, £20m of which has gone into upgrading Toyota’s Burnaston factory in Derbyshire. The Avensis benefits from a comprehensive styling overhaul, plus a new interior and engines. “I’m incredibly proud of this car,” says Ahmet Karaman, Toyota’s director for European projects. “It’s been the result of three years’ hard work, and it’s far, far more than just a facelift.”
As with the Aygo and revised Yaris, the Avensis now gets a more aggressive look at the front. The Toyota badge sits proudly in the centre, leading up to sharply styled headlights. A sportier, lower bumper features, while the rear now looks wider thanks to a new bumper and light clusters.
On the inside, the changes are even more evident. “We’ve spent a lot of time working with higher-quality materials, and the car’s interior styling was all done in Europe – a sign of how confident Japan is with putting Toyota Motor Europe in charge,” explains Karaman. We found the build quality to be top-notch and, thanks to new seats, the interior was far more comfortable than before – but the new Ford Mondeo and VW Passat still feel more special inside.
Around 75 per cent of Avensis sales are to fleets, so there are two well equipped new special trims, Business Edition and Business Edition Plus. These are bookended by Active and Excel, which are designed more for private buyers. All models come with a Pre-Collision crash system, as well as Bluetooth, air-conditioning and an auto-dimming rear view mirror. Interior space is unchanged, meaning there’s a 509-litre load area in the saloon and 543-1,609 litres in the Touring Sports estate.
A pair of BMW-sourced diesel engines also appear. The 110bhp 1.6 D-4D emits 108g/km of CO2 (meaning £20 road tax and a 19 per cent Benefit in Kind rate for business users) and returns 68.9mpg, while the larger 2.0 D-4D delivers 141bhp, and claims 119g/km and 62.8mpg (for £30 and 21 per cent). Also available is the British-built 145bhp 1.8-litre petrol, which claims 47.4mpg and 138g/km (£130/22 per cent).
Prices range from £17,765 to £26,635 for the saloon, with the Touring Sports costing from £1,180 to £1,805 extra, depending on spec.
New 2015 Toyota Auris: engine and styling tweaks
Meanwhile, the new Auris gets refreshed front and rear ends, a nicer cabin with upgraded materials and a smart ‘floating’ eight-inch touchscreen.
Perhaps the biggest news is the addition of a new 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo to rival the Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost. The 114bhp engine promises 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds, and claims 60.1mpg and 109g/km – 7g/km and 1.3mpg better than the Ford.
The Avensis’ new 1.6 D-4D also joins the Auris range, plus there’s a tweaked 1.4 D-4D, while the 1.33 and 1.6-litre petrols remain. The Auris Hybrid – which accounts for half of Auris sales in Europe – now returns 80.7mpg and emits 79g/km.
Full UK pricing has yet to be revealed for the Auris, but both models will arrive in showrooms in the summer.
Do you think these updates will keep Toyota’s family cars competitive? Let us know what you think!