The Toyota Avanza has a body-on-frame chassis, like a pick-up truck. This is to ensure the car is rugged enough to traverse poorly paved Indonesian roads.
TOYOTA was inspired by the Italian word for "advanced" to name its mini MPV the Avanza but whether you agree or not depends on where you come from.
The Toyota Avanza is a seven-seater model made in Indonesia and one that would most likely be a rapturous purchase for a large family over there. For the average Singaporean over here though, it may be something else.
This is because the Avanza is basic. Climb into the front seat and you may be reminded of a Japanese car that you drove a couple of decades ago.
The interior is pleasant if old-fashioned. The two-toned dashboard fascia looks like it was sourced from a previous era, while the speedometer with its orange-coloured calibrations is particularly retro.
There are some modern touches, however, like the LCD display in the instrument binnacle and the steering wheel's audio controls.
There is no climate control, though. Instead, two large plastic rotary dials work the extremely efficient aircon, which ensures maximum cooling for the whole cabin with help from roof-mounted vents.
That the Avanza is a very practical car is not in any doubt. For a 4.1-metre-long MPV, the cabin is spacious with deep door pockets for all four doors.
The third-row seats are roomy enough for two adults. Head and leg room can be tight if you're tall but the wonderful thing is that there is still some space behind for luggage.
To access the last row, just fold and flip the second row's "one-touch tumble seats". This simple operation is easy enough to do with one hand. No wonder the Avanza is the best-selling car in Indonesia.
This Toyota multi-purpose vehicle has a body-on-frame chassis, like a pick-up truck. This is to ensure the car is rugged enough to traverse poorly paved Indonesian roads. But in Singapore, it can result in a bouncy and occasionally jittery ride at high speed.
The 1.5-litre engine with VVT-i variable valve timing drives the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. The engine is enthusiastic if somewhat boomy but nevertheless frugal. Together with a lightweight (1,105 kg) body, the Avanza consumes 7.6 litres per 100 km under the combined cycle, or 13.2 km per litre.
The rear brakes are drums, not discs, but the Avanza does have modern safety equipment such as an anti-lock braking system, electronic brake-force distribution and two front airbags. It also has electric power steering and an excellent turning circle.
So why is Toyota offering this model in Singapore? Perhaps the ability to offer a well-priced MPV in COE Category A is an important consideration (the Avanza is currently the cheapest seven-seat MPV on the market).
Whatever the reason, the Avanza as a budget entry-level model for the mass market is an interesting alternative and will be even more interesting if and when COE premiums fall.
Transmission 4-speed automatic
Max power 98 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Max torque 125 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
0-100 kmh 15 secs
Top speed 165 kmh
CO2 emissions 178 g/km
Average OMV $16,000
Price $129,988 (with COE)
Distributor Borneo Motors