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FIRST DRIVE: Toyota Avanza

2006-11-16 11:31

Janine-Lee Gordon

While others may boast of launching small cars for under R90&mnsp;000, Toyota has trumped them all with its 7-seater Avanza - for less than R100 000.

Toyota has hit a perfect note with the Avanza. It might not be big on the outside - though it's not that small either - but the Avanza is a HUGE product in its market segment, a truly unique offering.

Not only is it a compact class entry-level vehicle that offers multi-purpose utility, but it also looks good.

Yes, Toyota got it all right again: versatility, practicality, comfort and loads of space - all for under R100 000!

In the words of TMC executive chief engineer for the Avanza, Kaoru Hosokawa: "With the Avanza we have created a new class of vehicle that can reach new customers as an entry level compact MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle).

"It is a very practical vehicle that will provide its owners with a highly satisfying ownership experience with value for money appeal. It is a vehicle like no other!"

The Avanza is positioned as a compact class, entry-level vehicle that offers multi-purpose utility. As a result, you will find ease of use, practicality, and value for money together with a sense of fine quality ahead of expectations in the its class.

All of the four models offered have electric windows all round and all but the base model are fitted with ABS brakes and driver and front passenger airbags. Aircon is also standard on all but the base model.


Body styling is appealing with a strong presence that exceeds its actual body size.

It has a smooth shape flowing from front to rear and portrays a sense of movement. Strong character lines define the shape and provide a sense of inherent stability and a functional image.


The theme is based on "Simple but Cool".

Although the interior reminds you of the old Toyota Corollas, the visual cues create a sense of close integration used to link the centre control cluster with the console.

This makes the ergonomics friendly to the driver.

The upholstery appears to be of good quality, however buyers with busy, young children might not find the light colour as the best option to keep clean.

The two-layer instrument panel is simple in structure but advanced in appearance with its gently curved surfaces housing the meter cluster that incorporates four dial-type gauges with the large diameter speedometer and revcounter in the centre.


Two newly developed engines have been adopted and both include modern technology with twin-overhead camshaft, 16-valve, four cylinder engines with VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent), and electronic fuel injection.

The 1.3-litre engine offered in the 'S' and 'SX' models has a maximum power of 67 kW at 6 000 r/min, while torque is 120 Nm at 4 400 r/min.

According to Toyota top speed for these is 160 km/h, with a 0-100 km/h time of 14.2 seconds.

The 1.5-litre models offered in 'SX' and 'TX' trim have 80 kW at 6 000 r/min, and torque is 141 Nm at 4 400 r/min.

Top speed is 165 km/h and the 0-100 km/h time is 12.8 seconds

The cars have a McPherson strut type suspension at the front and a four-link coil spring system at the rear.

This combination provides a stable and balanced feel with excellent passenger comfort on all road surfaces as. And we got to experience it first hand.

The media launch event took place at a Kwazulu Natal game reserve. With all the heavy rain, we did not expect to travel 8 km on wet slippery gravel with these little cars.

But they held up rather well and were quite impressive.

Utility, safety and comfort

There is comfortable seating while the interior is spacious. Convenience is assured by the three rows of seats in a compact sized MPV body.

Good utility is achieved by adopting a tumble mechanism for the centre row of seats, split 50:50, and a fold and tumble mechanism for the third row. A spring-loaded device assists in reducing the effort required to tumble the centre row of seats.

A number of flexible seating/load configurations are possible with 955 litres of load space available (VDA method) with all the rear seats folded away. It has a total of 17 various size storage spaces for smaller items.

It also includes a comprehensive range of safety features. All but the base line model have ABS brakes with EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution) and driver and front passenger airbags.

Service intervals are 15 000 km for all derivatives, there's a 4 year/60 000 km service plan, and the warranty is for t3 years/100  000 km, with AA Roadside Assistance for the duration of the warranty.

Pre-launch sales have already rocketed, suggesting assured success for this seemingly ideal value for money package.

The name 'Avanza' is derived from the Italian word "Avanzato" and means to "advance".

One would think this is Toyota's trump card for the replacement of the Tazz. However, executives have assured us they still have a few tricks up their sleeves for 2007.

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