Toyota Avensis (2008)

Published: 26 February 2008

Toyota is making the final cold-weather tweaks to its replacement Avensis, that’s tipped to make its debut at the Paris Motor Show in October. The new Avensis will continue to be built at Burnaston in the UK – Toyota has made a long-term commitment to its Derbyshire plant, which also produces the five-door Auris – but the key news is that Toyota will offer the Avensis as a soft hybrid.

Toyota Avensis – the details

With 20,000 sales in the UK last year, the Avensis is a tiddler compared to rival giants like the Mondeo and Vectra, but the option of a hybrid version – expect auto engine shut down in stop-start traffic or when coasting – is expected to perk up the Avensis’s rather lacklustre image.

A full Prius-style hybrid option was deemed too expensive to roll out, but a much cheaper and less sophisticated soft hybrid will play a key role in reining in Toyota’s CO2 footprint. Such a move will also fulfil the company’s publicly stated goal of selling one million hybrids by 2015, as the UK-built Avensis will also be sold in Japan, the first time a Toyota built outside Japan will be imported for the domestic market.

The rest of the engine range will be as you were, with a 1.8-litre petrol, and 2.0 and 2.2-litre diesels. A smaller engine, to match the likes of Renault's Laguna 1.5dCi is also a possibilty.

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What will the Avensis look like?

Its styling won't have us salivating as we did with the C5, but what is clear from these shots is that Toyota will thankfully ditch the current car’s bulbous and slightly awkward stance in favour of something far more muscular and sleek. Even behind that black cladding you can see the much higher waistline, slimmer glasshouse and rakish windscreen angle.

There’s no word on the interior styling but don't expect anything too radical – this is a Toyota, remember, and the emphasis will continue to be on bulletproof reliability and durability. Expect it arrive in UK showroom this time next year with a vast line-up of model derivatives, and prices starting around the £14,500 mark.

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars