Toyota Avensis (2009): the first photograph

Published: 29 August 2008

Toyota has issued a single photograph of the new Avensis saloon. The new Avensis will arrive officially at the Paris motor show on 2 October 2008 – and this solitary image is all we’ll get from Toyota until then.

What’s new on the third-generation, 2009 Avensis? Well, there will be no hatchback this time round; buyers will have to pick between this four-door saloon and a new, curvier estate. Which is what we suggested in our scoops of the new Avensis.

The new Toyota Avensis looks just like a Lexus IS!

Well spotted. Look past that weird eggshell background of this carefully shot portrait, and you’re left with a crisp-edged, contemporary family saloon – with just a few echos of its posher, bigger brother to remind us that Toyota leaves the proper exec experience to its Lexus arm.

It’s difficult to comment much more on the design from this one rear three-quarter photo that’s been issued, but the new Avensis seems to follow the modern norm in a class that’s flooded with volume models desperate for desirability. Taut body surfaces and rising beltline? Check. Chromed side windows (DLO in designer speak) and remarkably BMW-esque Hoffmeister kink? You bet.

We’ll let you make your own minds up on the design, but Toyota has also issued some early details on the car. The only problem being that they tell us absolutely nothing about the new Avensis – save for the fact that it’s still built in Burnaston, Derbyshire, UK.

Don’t worry, however – CAR as usual has the full lowdown. Click ‘Next’ below to read all about the new Toyota Avensis.

Click ‘Next’ below to find out more

So what else do you know about the new Toyota Avensis?

Both bodystyles will roll into UK dealers in January 2009. Why has the hatchback been dropped? Because Toyota still harbours ambitions to move the Avensis upmarket a notch (think that middle ground occupied by the Honda Accord) – and it reckons the new, as yet unseen estate will cross the gap between saloon and full, squared-off wagon.

This time, the tourer will place the emphasis more on sporty style over outright baggage handling. Expect a significantly faster rear screen angle, insiders promise.

Is the new Avensis bigger? It’s looks pretty hefty…

Marginally. Our sources suggest the new Avensis is 50mm longer at the front – to the benefit of pedestrian safety – but otherwise throws a similar shadow to today’s car. Although the wheelbase is identical to the current Avensis’s, it is underpinned by a new components set: that from the Auris and RAV4.

I remember CAR calling the Auris an interesting shade of magnolia!

Yes, we did. But at least the new Avensis will take the independent suspension option from the top-flight sportier Auris, not the cheaper twist beam from shopping models. The shared ‘platform’ also hosts a range of revised engines for cleaner emissions and new transmission options on the 2009 Avensis.

For instance, a diesel automatic will be available for the first time on the D-4D derv models, while the automatic choice for petrols is a new CVT, which offers fake, microchip-monitored gear ratios if you wish to play at being Timo Glock.

Sum up the new Avensis for me…

Toyota insiders vow the newcomer will focus on quality, safety and clean emissions. Will it  be good to drive? We remain sceptical based on its underpinnings, although we hear the seats are mounted  much lower to give a sportier feel.

But then, who ever bought an Avensis for GTI thrills? How refreshing to hear that the 2009 model will most certainly not offer any kind of sporting versions. Toyota knows its customers well and this Avensis will be perfect to many buyers wanting nothing more than comfortable, trouble-free transport from A to B.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet