What is it?
This is the new Toyota Avensis 2.2 D-4D T Spirit, tested here on UK roads - and in top-spec T Spirit trim - for the first time. Toyota claims that this is the most European-flavoured version yet of its large family car, combining Lexus-style quality with a dynamic, European-style driving experience.
Toyota has certainly got the quality right this time around. The Toyota Avensis 2.2 D-4D T Spirit feels as solid as anything VW offers, the leather seats feel expensive and there is even a smattering of parts taken directly from Lexus (the start button, for instance, will be very familiar to Lexus owners).
What’s it like?
For all the luxurious touches, there’s still a utilitarian edge to the Avensis’s styling inside and out. You still get the feeling that this is no more than a working tool, albeit a heavily decorated one.
The same utilitarian feel comes through when you get out onto the road. Push the start button and the new 148bhp 2.2-litre common-rail diesel clatters into life and settles into a gruff, thrummy idle. Move off and, although the 250lb ft of torque pushes the Avensis 2.2 D-4D along with considerable vigour (the Avensis feels every bit as fast as its 0-62mph time of 8.9sec suggests), there’s an unpleasant boom to the engine note and the gearchange is occasionally reluctant to swap ratios rapidly.