Our MPV market may have cooled down, yet with a whole lot more competition compared to a couple of years back, but that did not stop UMW Toyota from bringing in its new generation entry level people carrier, the Avanza. Like its predecessor, this new successor is set to offer affordable motoring with a bonus of ferrying up to 7-passengers with some luggage at one go.
The first Avanza landed back in 2003 powered by a 1.3litre engine mated to either an automatic or manual transmission. A bigger 1.5litre power plant was later added to the stable after feedback that it needed more poke, but that was only available as a self shifter. This compact MPV continued rake sales due to its reliability, low running costs and unlike most MPVs an overhead air-con outlet with individual control to blow cool air towards the third row passengers. Its Achilles’ heel however was its harsh ride especially at the last row when not fully laden.
Unlike its predecessor, the new kid has lost quite a bit of the formers’ utilitarian looks. Sporting a sleeker font end with a slightly tapered rear windscreen, the new car appears sportier and more appealing than some boxier people carriers. Wrap around font and rear lamp clusters now flank each corner of the vehicle while door handles have been revised, utilizing grip type handles as well as wing mirrors with integrated indicators to keep up to times. Also new are the wheel arches which are now flared slightly to give a sturdier stance.
Parked next to the previous generation Avanza, some may recon it looks more of a facelift than a new replacement. As a matter of fact, I have a hunch it was under the works of the designer who gave us the pre-facelifted tenth generation Corolla, aka Altis, as the rear end sports the similar organic creases and bumper reflector designs. But on paper, the new car is actually longer at 4150mm (versus 4120mm), and wider at 1660mm (versus 1635mm).
If you still think the exterior is more evolution than revolution, you should be pleased with the interior. Unlike the old, major panels have been revised to be less cluttered, and even classier to the eyes. Both S, G and E grades get a neatly integrated audio unit although its steering controls are unavailable in the lowest grade. Air conditioning is managed via 2-dials, 1 for fan speed, the other for temperature and recycled/fresh air. First time made available (though not ground breaking), is a tilt-adjustable steering for all 1.5litre variants whilst only two of the highest variants gets an average fuel consumption and range display. Gone is the temperature gauge, replaced by just an indicator whenever the car really has to stop.
As a people carrier, the Avanza has plenty to offer in terms of creature comfort and practicality. For starters, I was impressed by the silver finishing on the dashboard, steering and door-grips. Unlike most typical silver panels which feel cheap and often easily scratched, those here felt more resistant to scratches, better assembled and a texture almost identical to a real aluminum fixture. The 1.5G test unit I had was fitted with a decent six-speaker entertainment system, compatible with USB and AUX-Jack. For storage, it is generously fitted with deep door pockets, an exceptionally large amount of cup/bottle holders (3 per front door, 2 per rear door, one per deck side and 2 more at the centre armrest’s fold down unit), driver’s side storage, and a covered centre armrest compartment. Though already having an overhead blower for rear occupants, Toyota added an additional vent on the dashboard to channel cool air to the overhead unit claiming this improves its cooling efficiency especially when the weather gets really hot.
Pictures from Toyota.com.my