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There’s never been much wrong with the practical, workaday aspects of Toyota’s Mondeo-rivalling Avensis, but neither has there been anything that could be mistaken for style or flair - especially in the case of the rather dour but properly spacious and sensible Tourer estate. So, faced with an image problem and tough competition, what do you do?

There’s never been much wrong with the practical, workaday aspects of Toyota’s Mondeo-rivalling Avensis, but neither has there been anything that could be mistaken for style or flair - especially in the case of the rather dour but properly spacious and sensible Tourer estate. So, faced with an image problem and tough competition, what do you do?

Build a smarter looking, more efficient, classier Avensis Tourer and give it some mouthwateringly high-tech options, that’s what. All Toyota wants is for you to give it a chance. Has it earned it?

With other brands in the medium range Mondeo-sector, it’s reached the point where estate variants sell better than the standard saloon or five-door models. That has yet to happen in Toyota’s Avensis line-up, but the brand is hoping that things could change with this revised Tourer model. It features all the hi-tech changes lately made to the current third generation Avensis, a car now established with a reputation for offering only slightly sub-Lexus build quality at Toyota prices.

With the exterior and interior styling handed to Lexus for tidying up and the promise of better efficiency, this car is starting to look a very smart pick in its sector - and it’s a practical one in Tourer guise. Cars like this one should be able to fight the traditionalist’s corner with some conviction against the invading hoards of trendy compact MPVs.

Tourer buyers get exactly the same driving dynamics common to the rest of the range. The bar for driving dynamics in this sector is set extremely high and the Avensis has been playing catch up with a fast-moving target. There has been some tweaking of suspension components to offer a sharper drive but you’ll look in vain for a sporty model. That said, it benefits from a fundamentally decent setup with wide front and rear tracks and minimal overhangs. The third generation car rides well and body control is good with decently accurate steering, if lacking in feel a little. The latest updates will only improve on that.

If it feels faster than comparable rivals, that’s because it is: this car is an astonishing nine seconds quicker from rest to 100mph than a comparable Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi. It’s the same story with the comparable 145bhp 1.8-litre petrol Valvematic Avensis, a full second and a half quicker to sixty than, say, its 1.8-litre Vauxhall Insignia counterpart. Petrol models are also offered in 1.8 and 2.0 litre guises. Six speed manual boxes come as standard but a minority may wish to opt for the Multidrive S continuously variable transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifts. It doesn’t turn the Avensis into wholly convincing sports saloon though. It needs a little more attitude for that.

As you might expect, the Avensis prioritises space and practicality over swoopy good looks when it comes to the Tourer estate version. Not that it isn’t handsome thing from most angles. The biggest compliment you can pay to it is that it doesn’t look rehashed. The slimmer headlights, the more aggressive front intakes and the bolder grille give it a more assertive look that it always deserved. At the back, there’s a revised bumper and light cluster pairing. Alloy wheel designs have also been revisited.

The Tourer is properly spacious with 543 litres of boot space, extendable to 1609 litres if you activate the neat one-touch folding mechanism and flatten the split-folding rear seats. Take a seat inside and it’s not the most eye-catching cabin in the class but we’d wager it’ll prove to be one of the most durable. As before, there’s plenty of space inside. The generously proportioned cabin features decent front and rear leg room.

Quality has been improved right across the board, with better upholstery, dashboard trims, switchgear and door pulls. The front seats have been redesigned for better comfort and support and the amber instrument backlighting on the instrument binnacle is replaced by white lighting.

As you might expect, the Avensis prioritises space and practicality over swoopy good looks when it comes to the Tourer estate version. Not that it isn’t handsome thing from most angles. The biggest compliment you can pay to it is that it doesn’t look rehashed. The slimmer headlights, the more aggressive front intakes and the bolder grille give it a more assertive look that it always deserved. At the back, there’s a revised bumper and light cluster pairing. Alloy wheel designs have also been revisited.

The Tourer is properly spacious with 543 litres of boot space, extendable to 1609 litres if you activate the neat one-touch folding mechanism and flatten the split-folding rear seats. Take a seat inside and it’s not the most eye-catching cabin in the class but we’d wager it’ll prove to be one of the most durable. As before, there’s plenty of space inside. The generously proportioned cabin features decent front and rear leg room. Quality has been improved right across the board, with better upholstery, dashboard trims, switchgear and door pulls. The front seats have been redesigned for better comfort and support and the amber instrument backlighting on the instrument binnacle is replaced by white lighting.

The Avensis was one of the first Toyotas to benefit from the company’s Optimal Drive technology, a package of fuel-saving features that use low-friction, lightweight components and advanced engine technology to cut carbon dioxide emissions and boost power. This has helped cement its reputation as a cost-effective car to run, which is where most sales battles are won and lost in the medium range marketplace. Respected residual experts CAP expect that after the usual three years and 36,000 miles, this Avensis will be worth more than rivals from Vauxhall, Peugeot and Ford, holding on to around 35% of its original value.

This car has cleaned up its act. It’s more efficient, better equipped, has a higher feeling of quality inside and out and is still just as practical as ever, without being frumpily box-shaped.

A thinking family’s man’s choice then. And one you can believe in.