The hot-cake people carrier

2012-08-10 08:02

People movers are important on our shores and Toyota has always been at the forefront of it.

Just think of the Venture or even a Siyaya minibus.

The Avanza is a Daihatsu and Toyota love child that’s already a decade old now since its conception.

It also looks awfully similar to the Innova.

The humble Avanza is a vehicle most people find useful, whether they have a large family or a small business.

Launched locally in 2007, the first generation was a simple car – what you saw was what you got.

No fancy trimmings, just a comfy seven-seater to get people from one place to the next.

Earlier this year Toyota launched the second-generation model and they maintain their hot-cake seller status, even though the Innova is much bigger in engine size and space.

When you have a good product, you don’t have to change it much.

The current Avanza is available with either a 1.3 litre or 1.5 litre petrol engine with a five-speed manual gearbox and comes in three different specifications.

And there’s now a four-speed automatic version available in the 1.5 litre SX.

Its styling still has the distinctive box shape, which to my eye is not ugly.

It has better interior materials, extra boot space when all three rows of seats are used, and safety specifications have been improved with better fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

It features the same elongated windows, which give the impression that everything flows together.

I’ve always liked the flared wheel arches on the car, but big arches need big wheels – the Avanza’s look doesn’t add up.

The S and SX models come with 14-inch steel wheels and wheel caps, while the TX variant is equipped with 15-inch alloys.

The new model is 20mm longer and 25mm bigger.

I know that sounds minuscule, but that translates vastly when it comes to the interior.

The seats have a new lightweight design and the front seatbacks are now thinner, which makes for more legroom along all the rows.

Even the cabin width at the door trim is 10mm bigger on each side, which also makes the interior feel bigger.

It all really adds up to lots of added space and comfort.

The higher-spec SX and TX models now have a sliding function for the second-row seat, so it’s not that awkward to get into the third row any more.

I would have liked to see this sensible feature on the entry-level models as standard too.

With the back-row seat now moved 10mm forward, it means the boot space has been increased too, albeit just a tad.

On the safety front, the entry-level S models come standard with ABS, remote central locking, alarm, immobiliser, electric power steering (tilt-adjustable), electric windows and, most importantly, dual front airbags.

The SX models have colour-coded and power exterior mirrors, air conditioning and those adjustable second-row seats.

The range-topper TX model has an integrated four-speaker sound system with remote steering controls, a USB/auxiliary/iPod port and dual-zone climate control.

Although the motoring industry is constantly growing, people still need affordable options and where else can you get a reliable car that seats seven people for under R160 000?

Toyota might not always produce catwalk models, but they know how to give people what they need.

» Follow me on Twitter: @SpeedQueen

Quick Stats

Model: Toyota Avanza
1.3 / 1.5
Power: 67kW / 76kW
Torque: 117Nm / 136Nm
Fuel consumption l/100km: 7.7 / 7.6
CO2 emissions g/km: 172 / 183
Price: from R157 500 to R204 200

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