More important is flexibility, and this is something the Avensis has plenty of. Assuming you’re not expecting to gain speed rapidly, this engine will slog from surprisingly low rpm, which is handy because it gets loud and clattery approaching 3000rpm and beyond it.
Indeed, refinement is not this car’s forte; at idle and low rpm, you feel the motor vibrating through the pedals and steering wheel, although the engine quietens right down while the vibrations smooth out when you're up to motorway speeds.
The suspension also feels most at home in this environment. It’s softly sprung, so it’s quite happy to lollop along at speed, but does roll noticeably when cornering. Bigger bumps can also thump through the structure and unsettle the car slightly.
When you factor in steering that feels precise enough without ever really telling you what’s going on, a strange grittiness to the gearbox when moving the stick left to right and stability control that can’t be turned off, you have a car that should be avoided by the keen driver. A Ford Mondeo certainly has nothing to fear.
Inside, the Avensis remains a spacious choice, albeit not quite on the level of the huge Skoda Superb. Nevertheless, there’s plenty of rear head and legroom for adults, and centre-seat occupants will appreciate the flat floor.
Up front, drivers get plenty of adjustment for both the steering wheel and seat, including adjustable lumbar support on all but basic Active models. You also get a good-sized boot, although hatchback-bodied rivals are easier to load.
As for the new dash, it may look a little more contemporary than the old one but it still lags behind those in the Skoda Superb or Volkswagen Passat. Not only is it bland, there is a surprising amount of cheap-feeling plastic in areas you interact with regularly.
We’re also not the biggest fans of its infotainment system. It may have standard sat-nav but it can be laggy, and the graphics look dated. Even worse, the screen sometimes goes black when you’re navigating between functions, something that proves distracting during the hours of darkness.