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Toyota at the Paris motor show 2008

Thu, 02 Oct 2008

By Gavin Green

Motor Shows

02 October 2008 19:16

Toyota showed the latest, third-generation Avensis, a car that typically whips up as much excitement from car enthusiasts as the Eurovision Song Contest does with music aficionados. The Avensis is one of those cars that typically provides loyal service to company car reps before naturally seeing out as its days as a minicab, pine scent dangling from rear-view mirror.

The new one though is a much tidier effort in its styling, and the Tourer (estate) version is bordering on the svelte.

It’s built in Britain (in Burnaston, Derbyshire) and designed in Toyota’s advanced design studio in the south of France. The front end is clean with short overhangs – it’s certainly less fussy yet just as distinctive as a Mondeo – and the overall style is way more upmarket and European than the anonymous previous-generation Avensis.

Toyota talks about a car biased for space and comfort – so in a few years, it’ll be just perfect for that early morning Addison Lee ride back from Heathrow. Tech highlights include new variably valve timed engines (emissions are cut by 10-26 percent) and horsepower is boosted by between 3 and 20 percent. But let’s face it, no one is going to buy an Avensis for its driving brio.

Toyota’s take on the cube-shaped urban runabout – known as the Urban Cruiser – also made its world debut. It looks cute and chunky – think steroidal, squarer-edged, higher-roofed supermini – and it’s aimed at those who want a bit of SUV toughness in the urban jungle but without the fuel costs or bulk. A 4x4 transmission is optional. Engines include a new 1.3 VVT-i petrol and a revised 1.4 diesel. The all-wheel drive 1.4D is said to be the world’s most economical 4x4 (133g/km, 53.3mpg). 

The Urban Cruiser's cabin is less impressive. The rear seats don’t fold flat and you need to retract head restraints (fussy) first. The new C3 Picasso has a far cleverer and more versatile cabin.

The new Avensis looks to be high on quality and has a touch of Euro class. The Tourer almost looks alluring. It won’t be enough to lift the Avensis from its white-goods-on-wheels reputation, but at least it’s a start.

CAR's Toyota stand score: 3/5

Click here for up to the minute Paris motor show 2008 live reports

Click here for the previews and review: Guide to all cars


By Gavin Green