The Toyota Avanza is no stranger to the world of mini MPVs in Malaysia. Since its introduction in 2004, the Avanza was one of Toyota’s most popular models thanks to its Herculean reliability. Little of that notion has changed with the introduction of this 2015 version (launched in Indonesia earlier in the year), but the most significant upgrade lies under the hood.
But first, let’s get the basics out of the way. The Avanza remains a tri-row seven-seat people carrier, with the second and third row seats offering a multitude of seat adjustability (up to nine configurations) to suit all types of hauling needs. Also standard on all Avanzas is the dual-blower air-conditioning system with independent rear blower adjuster that directs air throughout the cabin, so passengers in the third row won’t suffocate from the lack of ventilation.
|Name||Toyota Avanza 1.3E||Toyota Avanza 1.5E||Toyota Avanza 1.5G||Toyota Avanza 1.5S|
|Engine||1,329cc; inline-4 DOHC with Dual VVT-i||
1,496cc; inline-4 DOHC with Dual VVT-i
|Max Power||97 hp @ 6,000 rpm||
104 hp @ 6,000 rpm
|Max Torque||121 Nm @ 4,200 rpm||
136 Nm @ 4,200 rpm
Aesthetically, the Avanza’s look has been updated to fit Toyota’s latest design language, although the bulk of this styling tweak is especially more prominent on the front end. The grille and bumper designs also vary depending on the model of choice, but the range topping 1.5S trim will get a larger grille with horizontal slats finished in gloss black.
Avanza 1.5S on the left, 1.5G on the right
Also new to the exterior design is the wheel design; both 1.3E and 1.5E variants will sit on 14-inch wheels shod with 185/70 series rubbers, although the latter makes do with a basic set of steel wheels. The more expensive 1.5G and 1.5S duo on the other hand, sits on a sportier set of 15-inch wheels wrapped with 185/65 profiled tyres. None of the Avanzas come with keyless entry or push-start ignition, but they all feature electric side mirrors with integrated signal indicators.
It’s no secret that the Avanza’s cabin remains fairly simple even by today’s standards. Standard here are the three-spoke two-tone urethane steering wheel (more expensive models feature volume controls), fabric seats, manual air-conditioning, powered windows and 50:50 split configuration for both the second and third row seats. There’s also an ISOFIX child mount for the second row seat, and all variants will get a centre console box with armrest and drop-down cup holders.
The touchscreen head unit seen here is actually an optional kit. In typical UMW Toyota fashion, there are two in-car systems available for a cost – the DVD-AVN and DVD-AVX systems that come with reverse camera, although the former choice supports GPS navigation and internet browsing capabilities (via WiFi hotspot on your mobile device). Other available options are the exterior bodykit with LED DRLs and Toyota Premium Security and Solar Film. Interestingly, all Avanzas come with a portable tyre pump as standard.
Under the hood is where most of the changes happen. Two naturally aspirated engines – a 1.3-litre and 1.5-litre – are on offer, but both hail from the NR family which features Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence). The previous VVT-i engine had its duty on the intake side, but with Dual VVT-i on both intake and exhaust ports, the engines provide better fuel efficiency and cleaner exhaust emissions than before and at the same time produce better output figures.
As such, the 1.3-litre inline-four DOHC unit makes 97 hp at 6,000 rpm and 121 Nm at 4,200 rpm, whereas the 1.5-litre churns 104 hp at 6,000 rpm and 136 Nm at 4,200 rpm. The smaller engine gets a sole five-speed manual transmission, though the larger unit will only get the antiquated but reliable four-speed automatic gearbox. Drive on both variants are sent to the rear axle. Its suspension is also tweaked to provide better comfort and stability, while engine noise has been reduced thanks to use of sound deadening materials.
Standard safety kit on the Avanza reads as such; dual SRS front airbags, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Toyota’s ‘GOA’ or Global Outstanding Assessment. In simple terms, the Avanza comes with Toyota’s Enhanced Body Structure that is capable of achieving 4 stars in the ASEAN NCAP frontal collision crash test.
The Avanza comes in four exterior colours – Dark Red Mica Metallic, Silver Mica Metallic, Black Metallic and Solid White. Packaged along with each purchase of the Avanza is a 3-year or 100,000km warranty programme, whichever comes first. Again, pricing starts from RM69,072 for the 1.3E, RM75,787 for the 1.5E, RM78,477 for the 1.5G and RM80,810 for the range topping 1.5S.