The Avensis is Toyota’s European flagship. Design and engineering work was begun in Japan and finished in Europe, with European tastes and roads in mind. Styling was carried out at Toyota’s ‘ED2’ studio in the south of France. The Avensis is built exclusively at Burnaston in Derbyshire.
The new model unveiled at Frankfurt is a substantially revised version of the existing car. Apart from styling alterations, Toyota has focused on perceived build quality and refinement. Inside, the new car receives new touch-screen multimedia equipment: Touch, Toyota Touch and Go, and Touch and Go Plus navigation systems. Perhaps someone should have found out what ‘touch and go’ actually meant before using the phrase...
Touch and Go Plus makes its world début in the new Avensis. It features voice recognition for navigation address input, one-shot destination entry, music search and play, and phone contact search and call. It also incorporates email send and receive, a text-to-speech message readout facility, a calendar, and — through a Gracenote database — a ‘play more like this’ music function. Enhanced satellite navigation mapping incorporates 3D city modelling and landmarks, and an additional Traffic Patterns database showing the average speed on road sections of a programmed route, according to the time, day and month. (It’s not live.) The system includes three years’ free map and software updating.
Revised diesel engine
Toyota’s 124PS two-litre D-4D turbodiesel engine has been revised, with the introduction of a new turbocharger, combustion chamber modifications and improved glow-plug control. As a result, torque delivery is more linear and fuel efficiency has improved — CO2 emissions are down by about 15 per cent., from 139g/km to 119g/km. This figure applies to both the saloon and estate models, despite the markedly greater mass of the estate — rolling-road figures can’t be trusted.
As well as the two-litre diesel, two versions of the long-stroke 2.2-litre diesel are offered — with either a diesel particulate filter (DPF) or a diesel particulate and NOx reduction filter, both offering 148PS. There is also a 145PS petrol engine, of 1.8 litres and featuring Toyota’s variable valve lift system, Valvematic. All engines drive through six-speed manual transmissions, except for the 2.2-litre DPNR unit, which is available only with a six-speed automatic transmission; petrol versions can be specified with Toyota’s Multidrive S continuously variable transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifts.
The basic layout of the Avensis’s running-gear — McPherson struts at the front with trailing and swinging arms at the back — remains unchanged, though there have been unspecified minor revisions.
A pre-crash safety system is available as an option on some trim levels. It uses a millimetre-wave radar sensor to scan the road ahead, recognising potential hazards and assisting the driver in reducing the chances of a collision. If there is a high possibility of a collision, the PCS will alert the driver; when he or she begins to brake, the system provides braking assistance to supplement the braking effort, simultaneously activating the seatbelt pretensioners. If the driver does not brake and a collision is inevitable, the system will automatically apply the brakes to reduce impact speed.
Adaptive cruise control (ACC) works in tandem with the PCS. It will automatically maintain a selected distance from the vehicle in front. Once the road ahead is clear, the vehicle automatically returns to its original cruising speed.
Lane departure warning (LDW) and lane keeping assist (LKA) systems also supplement the pre-crash safety system. Using a digital camera mounted behind the rear-view mirror, these systems can help to prevent unintended lane changes by first giving an audible and visual warning and then applying corrective steering torque to help the driver remain within a chosen lane.
All versions of the new Avensis are fitted as standard with ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), brake assist (BA), traction control (TRC) and vehicle stability control (VSC+).
Avensis models that are specified with high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps are fitted with an adaptive front lighting system (AFS). Calculating where the vehicle will be in three seconds’ time according to steering operation and vehicle speed, the system swivels the low beam projector headlamps in response to steering input, helping to light up a bend as the driver steers into it. AFS is also equipped with a dynamic levelling function, which automatically maintains a constant beam height.
Urban MPG (l/100km)
Urban CO2 g/km
Overall CO2 g/km
Kerb mass †
4695 (Estate: 4765)
0.28 (Estate: 0.29)
† Four-door saloon models, quoted minima. Add 35kg for estate.
* Track figures with 16" wheels. Cars with 17" or 18" wheels have front/rear track 1550/1540.
Overview: Toyota Yaris
Toyota’s French-built Yaris has entered its third generation, with efforts to improve build quality and to make the car stylistically more ‘dynamic’ and less feminine. Powertrains are much as before — there are petrol engines of 1.0- and 1.3-litres and a 1.4-litre diesel, while transmissions amount to a five-speed manual for the one-litre, six-speed units for the 1.3 petrol and the 1.4 diesel, and a CVT, which is available as an option on the larger petrol engine; this has a seven-step sequential manual override. Toyota’s dubiously-named Touch and Go multimedia system (see above) is available; basic models have a system called Touch, which offers Bluetooth, a USB port and a rear-view camera.
The new Yaris uses the same basic suspension layout as before, with McPherson struts at the front and a torsion-beam arrangement at the rear, though there have been minor refinements. Electric power steering is now used.
Yaris Mk I (top) and Mk III.
The windscreen is more raked than before, helping the new Yaris to a drag coefficient of Cd 0.287 — remarkable for such a short car.
Overall length has grown by 100mm, of which 50mm is in the wheelbase. The width of 1695mm is unchanged, while the height has been reduced by 20mm to 1510mm. Interior width has increased by 30mm. Total cabin length is unchanged at 1810mm, but the amount of interior space available within that length has increased by two per cent. to 65 per cent.
The front and rear seatbacks have been made thinner, increasing rear passenger knee-room by 35mm to 645mm. Although the ceiling is 5mm lower, there is no change in the Yaris’s headroom measurement. The front-to-rear hip point couple distance is 865mm. By making the tailgate lock and catch mechanism smaller, an extra 96mm has been gained in the overall loadspace length, which has increased in total by 145mm to 710mm. With the rear seats folded down — which gives a stepped load floor — the load length is 85mm longer than the previous Yaris, at 1500mm. The loadspace width has also been increased, to a maximum of 1365mm.
The twin wipers of the previous Yaris are replaced by a single blade: this apparently gives better clearing performance at high speeds, and generates less wind noise thanks to a lower blade height and a fin cover. Screen wash is dispensed along the entire length of the blade.
A sound-insulating windscreen is fitted: this is a laminated windscreen whose inter-layer has been chosen for its acoustic properties. All laminated glass absorbs sound to some degree.
A front wing protector has been fitted between the wing and A-pillar to reduce the amount of noise transmitted to the cabin. Insulation in the wheelarches and a lower rocker protector both help reduce the spatter noise from loose material kicked up from the road surface. Noise-inhibiting measures in the cabin include the use of damping sheets through the floor and application of sound-insulating and absorbing materials to the instrument panel, centre console, transmission tunnel, door and luggage compartment trims, headlining, carpeting and loadspace floor. In addition, foam and fixed foam insulation materials are used in the pillars, door sills and head sections to minimise the transmission of noise through the bodyshell.
Three power-units are offered, with four transmissions. The smallest and least powerful is a 998cc three-cylinder petrol unit. Markedly undersquare, it has a four-valve head with two camshafts; the intake camshaft has variable timing, while the phasing of the exhaust cam is fixed. Headline outputs are 68PS at a predictably high 6000rpm and 93Nm at 3600rpm. The standard (and only) transmission is a five-speed manual unit. Toyota has not flagged up any significant changes to this or any other Yaris engine, though a four per cent. improvement in NEDC overall rolling-road fuel economy has been posted by the 1.0-litre model. Curiously, the overall CO2 yield is down by seven per cent.
The four-cylinder 1.3-litre petrol engine is not just a one-litre with an extra pot, but differs appreciably in detail. It is less undersquare than its smaller stablemate, runs with a higher compression ratio of 11.5:1, and features variable timing on both intake and exhaust camshafts. The unit also has exhaust gas recirculation, partly to cut NOx, but also to reduce pumping losses by reducing intake vacuum pressure. The reduction in NOx comes about through a reduction in engine operating temperatures of 40°C: this also minimises the situations where fuel enrichment is necessary to protect the catalytic converter from overheating.
Outputs are 98PS at 6000rpm and 125Nm at 4000rpm.
Two transmissions are available for the 1.3 model: a six-speed manual and a CVT. Over the NEDC rolling-road test régime, the CVT model proves to be just under six per cent. more economical than the six-gang.
Friction-limiting measures are worth mentioning: roller rocker arms on the camshaft, a compact oil pump and fewer ribs on the auxiliary belt. Control of the dual camshaft phasing adjustment and EGR systems has been integrated, which apparently improves combustion efficiency.
The CVT that is available as an option on 1.3-litre Yarises is known as Multidrive S. It features a manual override, providing seven artificial steps: the driver uses this either by way of the gearshift lever or shift paddles on the steering wheel.
One of the advantages, though a minor one, of a competent CVT is that the range of ratios on offer can be wider than would be the case with a conventional geared transmission, without compromising driveability. In this case, the transmission’s pulleys offer internal ratios from 2.386 to a very high 0.431, though the final drive is a fairly low 5.079. Overall gearing for the CVT therefore ranges from 12.12 to 2.19, or 5.5:1 from the lowest ratio to the highest. This compares with the manual version’s 5.05:1 — not a vast advantage, but not to be sniffed at.
The Toyota unit’s control systems incorporate Flex Lock-up Control, Flex Start Control, Lock-up Slip Control and Speed Ratio Control. These are:
Flex Lock-up Control continuously adjusts the degree of lock-up in the torque-converter. This control function balances torque delivery and vibration against fuel economy.
When pulling away from standstill, Flex Start Control reduces the vehicle speed at which torque-converter lock-up is possible from 9.3mph to 6.2mph (15km/h to 10km/h). This reduces the extent to which engine torque is wasted.
On the overrun, Lock-up Slip Control improves freewheeling efficiency by increasing the duration of fuel shut-off. When the car is stationary in D mode, a neutral control will temporarily disengage the transmission from the engine to minimise fuel consumption when idling.
Speed Ratio Control incorporates a number of systems aimed at engaging the driver — no bad thing, as the driver is supposed to be the one in control of the car. Up-hill/down-hill shift control takes information from various vehicle sensors to determine whether the car is travelling up- or down-hill. When driving up-hill, ratio changes are restricted to ensure smooth progress. If brake-pedal use is detected when travelling down-hill, the speed ratio is automatically adjusted to provide more engine braking.
Switching to Sport mode aligns engine and vehicle speeds more closely, giving a more linear feel to the acceleration, like a conventional manual.
Finally we come to the biggest and chunkiest of the power-units available in the Yaris: the 1.4-litre turbodiesel. It features piezo-electric injectors and a diesel particulate filter (DPF). Headline outputs are 89PS at 3800rpm and 205Nm between 1800rpm and 2800rpm. It drives through a six-speed manual transmission which shares some, though not all, of its internal ratios with that of the 1.3 petrol model.
A combined cycle fuel economy improvement of seven per cent. (compared with the previous Yaris diesel) is claimed, while CO2 emissions are six per cent. down.
Injection pressure is a relatively modest 160MPa — 180MPa to 200MPa is now de rigeur will common-rail systems. A two-stage oil pressure control system and a long-life coolant (LLC) by-pass system are deployed on the current version of this engine, to reduce circulation flow rate in cold conditions: these measures allow the engine to warm up more quickly.
Versions of the new Yaris equipped with the Multidrive S CVT feature an Eco Driving indicator in the instrument binnacle. It’s a pretty dumb device, lighting up when the driver accelerates gently, going out when he demands more power. The most thermodynamically efficient way of accelerating from one speed to another is briefly and quickly; denied the freedom of choice, as we often are, we just follow the car in front.
On manual models, a gear shift indicator prompts the driver to shift up or down a gear to achieve the best fuel efficiency. Monitoring driving conditions, vehicle speed and throttle inputs, Toyota claims that this system can help reduce fuel consumption by between 0.5 and three per cent., depending on driving styles.
Structure and running-gear
The body structure of the new car is both more rigid — though we have no figures — and more aerodynamically efficient than previously. The front track is 15mm wider than on the previous model, and the body-in-white is 5kg lighter. About 50 per cent. by weight of the bodyshell is now high-tensile steel. Model-for-model, the new Yaris is around 20kg lighter than its predecessor; the new lightweight rear seat design accounts for a further 5kg, while the use of aluminium in place of steel for a number of suspension components reduces vehicle mass by another 3kg.
Toyota has modified the Yaris’s running-gear without doing anything outwardly radical. The essentials are the same: McPherson struts in the nose, a torsion beam arrangement at the back, electric power steering. All have been tinkered with, in the interest of mass-reduction as much as anything, as have the throttle response characteristics, the ratios of the gearboxes and final drives, and the servo assistance for the brakes — there is more of it.
Other mass-reduction measures include:
Replacing copper wiring with aluminium in 53 electrical circuits, which reduces the wiring loom mass by 38 per cent.;
The starter motor is 30 per cent. lighter;
The tailgate lock and latch are smaller and lighter;
Using plastic for the fuel filler pipe and — for the diesel — the turbocharger air tube;
A thinner instrument panel construction.
The Yaris’s front suspension, though outwardly similar to its predecessor’s, sees the solid anti-roll bar and steel strut bearing and stabiliser link of the previous model replaced with a hollow anti-roll bar, plastic strut bearing and an aluminium stabiliser link. These revisions also allegedly improve the suspension’s tracking performance.
A damper ‘initial valve’ has been adopted, to improve damping force response. On the sportier SR grade model, a rebound spring is introduced to reduce roll, while on all versions a change has been made to the lower arm bush characteristics. Together, these revisions reduce vibration and give a smoother ride, while improving steering feel and yaw response.
At the rear, weight-saving measures including using aluminium instead of steel for the torsion beam inner tube, and a high tensile material for the coil spring. Changes have been made to the torsion beam bush characteristics, and spring lateral direction has been increased: an improvement in ride quality is claimed from these changes.
The steering column rake has been reduced by three degrees to 25°, and a quicker steering ratio has been adopted. The bearing rigidity of the rack and pinion gearing has also been improved to reduce friction and system play. To maintain ease of steering at the same time as using a quicker gear ratio, the EPS’s motor rating has been increased from 55A to 70A.
All models of the new Yaris are equipped with ABS, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist, stability control and traction control.
Braking is by means of 258mm x 22mm ventilated disc brakes at the front, with 203mm drums at the rear, on all models. The braking system uses a nine-inch brake booster for, as we have mentioned above, stronger servo assistance; and a lightweight, highly rigid brake pedal made from thin, plasma-welded plates.
Newly-developed ultra-low rolling resistance tyres are deployed. Fifteen-inch wheels are fitted with 175/65R15 tyres, while the 16" wheels on the SR models are fitted with 195/50R16 rubber.
As to safety equipment, seven airbags are fitted as standard, including a dual-chamber front passenger side airbag The Yaris is equipped with what Toyota describes as Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) front seats.
In a frontal collision, cabin deformation is limited by the absorption and dispersal of impact loads through the front side members, A-pillars, rocker panel and underbody structure. Three specific measures improve side impact performance:
High tensile steel is used for the outer side of the B-pillars, roof rails, rockers, and upper B-pillar door hinges. Bulkheads have been installed inside the rockers to reduce rocker breakage. Energy-absorbing beams are fitted in the doors.
At the rear, bumper reinforcements and a crash box absorb collision energy.
It is extremely difficult for a car with a short bonnet to achieve a good standard of pesestrian protection in an accident. In fact, it is looking increasingly clear that the next leap in pedestrian protection standards can’t be achieved without extermal airbags, at least with little cars like the Yaris. As it is, the new Yaris has energy-absorbing materials on the leading edge of the front bumper reinforcement and the bottom end of the bumper help reduce the impact energy directed at a pedestrian’s legs. The energy-absorbing, pantograph bonnet structure has a crushable cowl louvre on its rear edge, and the front wings contain an impact-absorbing bracket. Fitting a low-impact bonnet hinge prevents the hinge arm from impacting on the body in a collision; the wiper pivot is mounted on a detachable structure.
All versions of the new Yaris come with seven airbags: driver and front passenger front and side airbags, driver’s knee airbag and full-length curtain shield airbags; the front passenger side airbag has a dual-chamber design. Capacities are eight litres for the thorax/abdomen and 4.5l for the pelvis; they deploy with staggered timing.
Three-point ELR (emergency locking retractor) seatbelts are fitted to all seats, with additional pretensioners fitted to the driver and front passenger seats. ISOFIX mounts are provided on the outer rear seats for secure fitting of child seats, together with a top tether anchor bar.
The new Yaris is fitted with Toyota’s whiplash injury lessening (WIL) front seats. The latest version of these provides stronger seat frames and a revised shape for the head restraints.
The essence of the system is that, in the event of a rear impact of sufficient magnitude, the seat structure allows the occupant’s body to sink backwards, matching the movement of the upper body to that of the head, reducing the risk of whiplash.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing France (TMMF) was established in 1998 at Valenciennes in the south. The facility began to build vehicles in January 2001 and to assemble engines in April 2002. Throughout its life the plant has been dedicated to the Yaris, both producing the car and assembling its 1.3-litre petrol and 1.4-litre diesel power-units.