The first-generation Toyota Avanza was a pioneering ‘no-frills’ compact MPV that delivered exactly what it promised on the tin – it got as many people as possible from one place to another in comfort. However, the all-new Avanza which goes on sale on the 6th February 2012 has upped the ante considerably by going big: it’s big on style, big on space and big on comfort.

Toyota Avanza

Make no mistake, the newcomer still retains all the virtues of the outgoing model namely: seven-seater flexibility, compact exterior dimensions and excellent value for money, but the entire package is finessed thanks to the following:

  • A dynamic new design inside and out with an enhanced sense of quality
  • Improved comfort levels
  • Improved storage capacity, especially when all three rows of seats are occupied
  • Improved safety specification levels
  • Improved ride comfort and handling stability thanks to the new suspension lay-out
  • Improved fuel economy and CO2 emissions

Toyota Avanza Rear

In the words of Calvyn Hamman, Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing (Toyota SA Motors): “The Avanza with its three-row configuration and affordable price tag has virtually no competitors in the compact MPV market segment. This all-new second-generation model offers so much more from a styling, refinement and comfort perspective, that we are confident it will be even more favourably received than its predecessor.”

Toyota Avanza Engine

Toyota Avanza Design and Styling

Dynamic and spacious are the two keywords in the Avanza’s design language. More remarkable is the fact that this was achieved without dramatically increasing external dimensions – the new Avanza has grown in length by 20mm and 25mm in overall width.

In profile the dominant styling elements are the svelte, elongated windows which give the impression of one solid piece of glass. This more muscular demeanour is reinforced by the flared wheel arches and the lower rocker panel featuring a curved character line. Colour-coded door handles are standard. The S and SX models are shod with 14-inch steel wheels and complementary wheel caps; the TX variant is equipped with 15-inch alloys. Mud guards are standard on the SX and TX models.

Toyota Avanza Logo

Frontal design traits include an outwardly-thrusting ‘snout’ which incorporates the Toyota logo – this is the new family face of Toyota which was first exhibited on the recently minted Yaris. The grille is body-coloured across the range except for the flagship TX which has chrome mouldings. This top-line model also gets front fog lamps on the standard menu.

The luggage door ‘flares out’ from the license plate, once again imparting a sense of strength. A rear spoiler with an integrated high-mount stop lamp and a rear chrome garnish strip are two of the trimmings that come standard on the high-end TX model.

Toyota Avanza Interior

Toyota Avanza Interior

Dynamism and spaciousness likewise characterise the Avanza’s indoor environment. The ambience of the cabin has much more of a passenger car presence than its predecessor. This is partly attributable to the design of the instrument panel which has been lowered as much as possible to enhance visibility and open up the cabin. Also contributing to this car-like feel is the centrally located cluster allowing for easy access to the vents, audio controls and ventilation system.

The tactile quality of the interior has also been addressed with all dashboard and door panel surfaces offering a high quality texture without using paint or chrome – instead accent glossy and matt surface finishes have been effectively used on the areas surrounding the outer ventilation vents and on the central vent knobs.

One of the biggest triumphs though of the new Avanza is the way in which occupant and luggage space has been increased without substantially enlarging the external dimensions.  All three rows of seats offer occupants ample room including kneeroom and, even with a full complement of passengers utilising all the seats, there is still enough boot space to store a fair amount of luggage. Space was created by adjusting the shape and placement of the seatbacks and door trim, millimetre by millimetre.

What was done to increase passenger space and comfort:

  • A new lightweight seat design for enhanced ride comfort was adopted
  • The cabin width at the door trim ornament has been increased by 10 mm on each side, creating a sense of spaciousness.
  • The front seatbacks have been made thinner, increasing knee space in the second row by 20 mm, enhancing comfort.
  • The second row seatback has been reduced in thickness by 10 mm, ensuring knee space for the third row occupants.
  • A sliding function (SX and TX) has been added to the second row seat (backward 60 mm), making it possible to greatly expand the second row foot space to accommodate passengers.
  • A one-touch tumble feature has been adopted on the second row seat which, when combined with the seat sliding function (SX and TX), enhances ease of access to the third row seat.
  • The third row seat has been moved forward by 10 mm and the back door trim moved rearward by 8 mm, realising an 18 mm extension of the luggage area.

In terms of kit, the entry-level “S” grade comes with ABS, remote central locking, alarm, immobiliser, electric power steering (tilt-adjustable), electric windows, dual front airbags and a plethora of storage compartments as standard.

SX models chip in with colour-coded electrically-adjustable exterior mirrors, air conditioning and adjustable (fore and aft) second-row seats.

The flagship TX tops up the spec list with an integrated four-speaker sound system with remote steering controls, a USB/auxiliary/iPod port and a dual-zone climate control air conditioning system with separate rear roof vents for rear passengers.

Toyota Avanza Performance

The 1.3- and 1.5-litre petrol engines and transmission are essentially carry-overs from the first-generation model, however the vehicle body weight has been reduced by approximately 20kg, and aerodynamic performance has been enhanced. In addition, low rolling resistance tyres and EPS (Electric Power Steering) have been adopted whilst control of the air conditioning and engine has been improved. This together with a myriad of other minute improvements has combined to realise substantial accelerative performance and fuel economy enhancements. While on the subject of the latter, the previous model received high praise for its excellent fuel economy, but Toyota has successfully improved on this with the new model. The average consumption figures in the combined cycle are as follows: 7,7 L/100km for the 1.3; 7,6 L/100km for the 1.5 auto and 7,2 L/100km for the 1.5 manual.

On the performance front, the 1.5 manual goes from 0-100km/h in 11.9 seconds – down from 12,1 seconds (the figure is marginally slower for the auto); interestingly the 1.3-litre version with its lighter mass dispatches the obligatory sprint in exactly the same time as its 1500 stablemate (also 11,9 seconds – down from 12,2 seconds), but bear in mind that the in-gear acceleration for the 1500 is stronger than its smaller stablemate.

Toyota Avanza At a glance:

  • In-line four cylinder 1.5 L 3SZ-VE and 1.3 L K3-VE engines with VVT-i have been carried over for a combination of high performance, fuel economy and environmental performance.
  • A resonator has been added to the air cleaner hose to reduce engine booming noise, enhancing quietness at high engine speeds.
  • Five-speed manual transmissions are standard across the range but for the first time, the Avanza is available with a 4-speed automatic transmission (in SX guise only) when mated to the 1.5-litre engine. Hydraulic control is optimised using electronic control to achieve smooth shifting and excellent acceleration. A lock-up mechanism has been adopted to reduce the power-loss associated with torque converter slip – this helps to enhance fuel efficiency.

1.5 Technical Specs

No. of cyls. & arrangement – 4 cylinders, In-line type

Valve mechanism – 16-Valve DOHC, chain drive with VVT-i

Bore X Stroke – mm 72.0 x 91.8

Displacement cm3 – 1495

Compression ratio – 10.0:1

Fuel system – EFI

Max. output (kW / rpm) – 76 / 6000

Max. torque (Nm / rpm) – 136 / 4400

1.3 Technical Specifications

No. of cyls. & arrangement – 4 cylinders, In-line type

Valve mechanism – 16-Valve DOHC, chain drive with VVT-i

Bore X Stroke mm – 72.0 x 79.7

Displacement cm3 – 1298

Compression ratio – 10.0:1

Fuel system – EFI

Max. output (kW / rpm) – 67 / 6000

Max. torque (Nm / rpm) – 117 / 4400

VVT-i System

VVT-i is a system that continuously optimises the timing of intake valve operation in accordance with driving conditions to provide a high level of engine performance under all driving conditions; another positive spin-off is enhanced fuel economy and lowered emissions.

Toyota Avanza Ride and Handling

In developing the new Avanza, Toyota specifically targeted the areas of ride comfort and handling. To this end the chassis has been tuned to ensure high-speed straight-line stability while suspension settings have been revised to soften the shock from bumps and suppress swaying when changing lanes. Additionally, to enhance comfort when driving at high-speeds, noise and vibration (NV) performance has been enhanced. Furthermore, wind noise has been reduced through a revision of the upper body’s soundproofing and absorbing materials.

Toyota Avanza Technical Highlights:

  • To ensure the maximum possible steering angle – a McPherson strut-type front suspension has been adopted.
  • To ensure excellent drivability – a 5-link type (4-link with lateral control rod) rear suspension has been adopted for excellent drivability.
  • To ensure straight-line stability and enhance ride comfort – caster angle and caster trail amount have been increased.
  • To enhance turning feeling – king pin inclination and king pin offset have been increased.
  • To ensure turning stability – the tread has been widened (14-inch wheels: +20 mm, 15-inch wheels: +10 mm).
  • To ensure a feeling of security when steering – upper support characteristics have been optimised to absorb vehicle yawing motion.
  • To ensure a feeling of stability when steering – a rebound stopper has been adopted, speeding recovery of damping force of the absorbers on the inside wheels in a turn.
  • To enhance tyre contact on uneven surfaces – the shock absorber rebound stroke has been lengthened.
  • To ensure good ride comfort – the size of the impact absorbing lower arm bushings has been increased and coil spring characteristics have been optimised to absorb impacts. Absorber damping force has been optimised to match the coil spring stiffness.

Electric Power Steering (EPS)

The hydraulic power steering system has been replaced with an EPS system. Additionally, the gear ratio has been set lower while considering the vehicle’s characteristics as a three-row seven-seater, thereby realising highly responsive steering feel. With adoption of the column-type EPS, annoying vibration or resistance has been dialled out without sacrificing any steering feel.

Toyota Avanza Safety

ABS (Anti-lock Brake System) with EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution) is standard on all new Avanzas. The brake booster has been changed to a floating structure type (where the vacuum valve is closed when not operated). This reduces initial ineffective stroke, resulting in enhanced brake feeling.

On the passive safety front, all new Avanza models feature dual front airbags.

Toyota Avanza Pricing and servicing

Avanza 1.3 S – R155 900 (incl. VAT and emissions’ tax)

Avanza 1.3 SX – R168 800

Avanza 1.5 SX – R175 500

Avanza 1.5 SX AT – R189 600

Avanza 1.5 TX – R202 200

All Avanza models come with a four-year/60 000 km ToyotaCare Service Plan included in the purchase price (service intervals are every 15 000 km), along with Toyota’s comprehensive three-year/100 000 km warranty.

All models are supported by the ToyotaCare Roadside Assistance Programme and entitles customers to 24 hour roadside assistance, ensuring ultimate peace-of-mind motoring.