New Toyota Avanza
Here comes the improved version of Toyota Avanza & 1.5G Avanza, It look sporty compared to the old version 1.

“Has it already been two years since the Toyota Avanza arrived and took the market by storm? Seems like time has passed rather fast and in those 24 months, 61,193 units have left the showrooms around the country to provide transport for families small and big. But typical of Toyota (and other Japanese companies too), there is a strong desire to keep improving the product and to meet customers’ requirements in the best possible way. Even as the first Avanzas started appearing on the roads, customers were being asked what they liked and didn’t like about it and more importantly, what else they would like to see.

“Though the performance was acceptable to most people, there was still a feeling that it could be better and the features offered could also be more extensive,” said David Chen, Managing Director of UMW Toyota Motor. “We took all feedback seriously and discussed with the Toyota engineers in Japan how to meet the expectations. I’m pleased to say that they were very receptive to our requests and worked on developing an additional variant with a larger 1.5-litre engine.”

So for the mid-term facelift, the Avanza gets not just cosmetic changes but also an additional engine variant. Mr Chen said the company expects the Avanza 1.5G to account for around 30% of the 2,500 Avanza sales forecast to be sold each month. Assembly will continue to be at the Perodua plant outside Rawang, Selangor.

The 1.5-litre engine is a brand new unit and not from the same family as the 1.3-litre unit. It’s not the same engine as that in the Vios either, a notable difference being that the Avanza’s engine - coded 3SZ-VE - has a cast iron block whereas the Vios engine has an aluminium block. The 3SZ-VE engine, which also has two camshafts, four valves per cylinder and of course, VVT-i (Toyota’s variable-valve timing mechanism), is also used in the latest Toyota models like the second generation bB, Rush compact SUV and even the Scion xB which is sold only in the USA. It can be configured for transverse or longitudinal installation in the engine bay, depending on whether there is FWD or RWD. In the case of the Avanza 1.5G which has RWD, the engine is mounted longitudinally.

Maximum power output of this engine is 108.8 bhp/80 kW with 141 Nm of torque at 4400 rpm. Compared to the 1.3-litre K3-VE engine – which has 3% more power now (due to an improved cylinder head design) – the 3SZ-VE engine is 19% more powerful and 17.5% more torque. Considering that the weight increase difference is only 0.9% (15 kgs), the Avanza 1.5G promises more spirited performance.

Buyers of the Avanza 1.3E get a choice of 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmissions but only automatic transmission is available with the Avanza 1.5G.

To provide ride quality and handling comparable to a passenger car, the Avanza has independent MacPherson front suspension and a 4-link live axle at the rear with coil spring suspension. The use of a live axle at the rear is advantageous for a vehicle like the Avanza which can carry heavier loads, especially at the rear end. Barrel-shaped coil springs help to lower the centre of gravity for stability while moderating bounce but not sacrificing the suspension stroke for comfort. ”

Source From: MotorTrader


The PPV  Perpendicular People Mover (Chiang Mai Mail, Vol. IV No. 36 - Saturday September 3 - September 9, 2005 )

For the past few months, the Indonesian built Toyota Avanza has been arriving in Thailand, and whilst not as popular as some of the other Toyota people movers, sales have been quite strong, judging by the number of them on the roads.

Toyota Avanza

With Toyota having the Innova, the Wish, and the Foretuner, one wonders just why Toyota would have yet another people mover in its line-up. However, a look at the price sticker quickly shows why. Innova, Wish and Foretuner are all around 1.2 million baht, while the Avanza is around 650,000 baht. Half price. So do you only get half the features? Having now had the opportunity to study an Avanza close up for the past week, I can honestly say there are very few areas where the Avanza is lacking, compared to its more expensive brothers.

The most obvious difference is in the engine. No three litre diesel or 2.4 litre gasoline engine, the Avanza has a 1.3 litre petrol power plant up front, which on paper sounds as if it will be dreadfully underpowered, but on the road turned out to be perfectly adequate to run with the daily city traffic. Even on the motorways, Avanza cruised at 120-140 kph, and with the overdrive function on the auto transmission, the engine was not too ‘busy’ at those speeds.

As regards transmissions, I firmly believe that auto is the only way to go in Thailand’s stop-start traffic. Who wants to be clutching and shifting every few seconds? As a bonus that many people do not realize, auto transmissions are also far easier on the total drive train, and you are not replacing clutches and drive shafts. One slight negative is the under-gearing of the standard auto transmission ratios in the Avanza. Use of the overdrive button brings the ratios in to a much better range, and after the first half hour was left continuously in overdrive mode, without any real downside in acceleration.

While on the drive train, Avanza is a return to the conventional front engine, rear wheel drive, with a ‘cart axle’ and coil spring rear end. Other than a transmission tunnel, which is not overly intrusive, the benefits of this layout include a much smaller turning circle, as front wheel drive CV joints end up giving other vehicles the turning circle of the Queen Mary. Avanza can U-turn in my street with ease, where others are still three point turning.

At the 650,000 baht price for the top of the line, I was not expecting much, but the package was much more than basic. Air-conditioning was effective in the front, with easily adjusted rotary dials, plus another control unit in the roof lining for the rear passengers, complete with fan speed and directional outlets.

The model as tested also had ABS and power steering. The latter was excellent, without being over-powered and still retained good feel at highway speeds. The ABS I did not test, but I am sure it was there!

Door pockets and knick-knack holes were plentiful, and the owner will quickly work out what should go where. The model as tested came with remote locking, plus automatic locking on take-off and unlocking on turning off the engine. For families this is an excellent feature.

Seating was comfortable, and when in the maxi-people mode, it is possible to transport seven in the Avanza. There was enough leg room for the second row passengers, even when the driving seat was fully back. The ‘occasional’ rear seats fold up and then sit flat very easily, and one does not have to carry out two unlockings at the one time. In the five person configuration, there is a very good load carrying capacity, and the rear door opens right up for easy access.

After one week, I had forgotten that there was only a 1.3 litre engine up front, but the excellent fuel consumption figures could remind me at the petrol pumps. By the way, it takes 91 octane, another small saving.

For me, the only downside to the Avanza was the styling (or lack of it). Where the Wish is very stylish and the Foretuner very macho, Avanza looks as if it were designed to carry giraffes down crowded narrow Japanese alleyways. The Perpendicular People Mover!

The vehicle tested was supplied by Thonburi Toyota, but I was so impressed I bought it! At 650,000 baht it is difficult to go past this vehicle, which despite its bargain basement price, has all the features one would want and expect on movers.


SHORT DRIVE / TOYOTA AVANZA Motoring >  Bangkok Post Friday November 03, 2006

CONVERT NOT AVANZA

'Forgive me, father, for I have sinned. Last year I bought a Thai Rung and had been upcountry only once _ the rest of the year I'd frustrated myself wrangling it around town and in narrow sois...'

WIWAT CHANG

Background - Are you one of the many people who bought a Thai Rung, Ford Everest or Isuzu MU-7 as your family's only transport to do daily commutes and regular weekend trips?

Chances are, for the past one year, you've gone upcountry once or twice and for 360 days you struggle with it in Bangkok traffic jam and narrow sois _ not to mention all the tight parking in shopping malls.

The Avanza, a Toyota-badged mini-MPV, could have been the perfect solution when it arrived in mid-2004 offering seven-seat capacity, folding second and third row seats, second row air-conditioning and a price range of a five-seater Honda Jazz sub-compact hatchback.

The downsides were that it is based on a commercial truck chassis and had a powerless diminutive engine and shoddy interior quality.

The speed-crazed and status-conscious Thais did not receive the original Avanza package well except for some 9,000 modest and humble buyers.

What's new?

Come 2006 and the rear-drive Avanza is given a facelift and a bigger engine. A 1.5 engine with exactly the same 109hp as in the Vios replaces the 88hp 1.3 _ but the longitudinally laid out engine comes from other models sold overseas, not from the Vios that uses a a transverse configuration driving the front wheels.

The front facelift renders it a more recognisable corporate look and the revised rear taillights help keep it not so archaic. Interior fit and finish has been given a serious consideration and results in improvements.

What's cool?

- EQUIPMENT

One of the coolest things about the Avanza is the second-row air-conditioning _ it's literally cool and it's the only vehicle in this price range, other than the Suzuki APV, to have it.

The "E" trim comes with automatic transmission, ABS, EBD and MP3 capable CD player _ but no airbag.

- PRACTICALITY

Thanks to its commercial vehicle ladder frame chassis, the car has a good ground clearance of 180mm _ on par with most pickup trucks _ good for wading through Bangkok's floods while laughing at other drowning city cars.

Its seven-seat arrangement is surprisingly roomy for a car measuring only 4.1m short. Flip the second and third row seats up and you get lofty cargo bay, albeit the third row compromising the loading capacity.

Folding those seats flat seems to release more usable space. For some users, taking out the third row altogether provides the best space utility when only 4-5 seats are needed.

What's not?

- DYNAMICS

Avanza is neither a proper car nor a van _ its handling and ride a cross between the two. It's does not handle as agile as, say, a Yaris or Jazz. But it rides better than any pick-up truck.

It has a larger and more powerful engine making for a more responsive dash around town than the outgoing 1.3L.

However, the high (even though lower than before) final drive ratio still exhorts high-rev range _ like an ear-wrenching 3,000rpm for 100kph in top gear.

It could be a blessing in disguise as the cop might never pull you over for speeding _ as you don't wanna push the car any faster or risk breaking the sound barrier.

On the practical side, it is geared for hauling a maximum load of seven people, but which we trust most owners rarely do.

Brake pedal is as mushy as a bathing sponge and retardation is sufficient _ for a Sunday driver.

- INTERIOR AND EQUIPMENT

The interior plastic quality and fit see slight improvement over the previous version, but is still a long shot from any other car in this price range bar the Suzuki APV (also from the equator). To be fair, this can be overlooked if it's sheer practicality what you're after.

The lone driver's airbag, dark tone interior, 2-DIN WMA-capable CD player and anti-theft is a B50,000 extra in the "S" trim.

- OFF THE RECORD

We have a suggestion for Toyota: drop in a diesel engine, take out the last two rows of seats, throw out the side-swinging rear doors and replace them with sliding ones and _ voila _ you have a Citroen Berlingo-beating utility minivan!

Buy or bye?

If you're looking for an alternative to a city hatch like the Yaris or Jazz, don't buy this. You would be barking up the wrong tree. The Avanza is not for anyone who has driven proper cars and like to drive them _ be they the Vios, Corolla or even 10-year-old Corona.

The Avanza is for the modest driver under budget frustrated at rear-wheel drive Thai Rung or MU-7 due to bulkiness and awkward manoeuvrability in town.

Don't let others try to convert you.



You can pay B50k for an airbag and dark grey trim upgrade.

1.5 engine is adequate for town driving.

Second row reclining seats and air-conditioning _ sounds like luxury car.

Now, imagine if there are no rear seats _ just space.

Access to and from third row is easy.

High hopes for revamped Avanza
 

More room and competitive pricing make the new-look model an interesting alternative to the regular Toyota subcompact sedans.

The original Toyota Avanza subcompact multipurpose vehicle (MPV) may not have looked like a popular model from the biggest auto-maker in Thailand, but Toyota says more than 9,000 of them have been sold in Thailand, a rate of about 300 a month. Now, the Avanza has been revamped, and the company plans to boost sales to 400 per month, at least in the period following its recent launch.
The Avanza is made in Indonesia and exported to Thailand in exchange for Thai-made models like the Hilux Vigo, under the Asean Free-Trade Area scheme. This means Toyota is able to price it competitively, compared with vehicles imported from countries outside of Asean.
The minor-change Avanza is priced at Bt689,000 for the 1.5S, Bt639,000 for the 1.5E and Bt569,000 for the 1.5J, and this makes it pretty interesting, especially compared with regular subcompact sedans; for example, Toyota’s own Soluna Vios. The Avanza is slightly more expensive than the Vios models (J, E and S trims) but has two more seats to accommodate a total of seven people, and the extra seats can be folded to increase luggage space. With the Vios, you can’t even fold the rear-seat backrest.
The first-generation Avanza received a poor response from the media, because of its lack of performance. The original 1.3-litre engine, with just 88 horsepower, didn’t have the power to get the Avanza moving, so the new model comes with an upgraded 1.5-litre engine. It’s the same engine as that used in the Toyota Rush G, a popular subcompact sport-utility vehicle in Japan, and the Scion XB, which is popular among young buyers in the US.
Although I didn’t get to drive the original Avanza, I couldn’t find any problems with the “minor-change” model, with its new engine. There is enough punch for overtaking on the highway, there is a new final-drive ratio for quicker acceleration, and in the city, the variable valve system squeezes out enough torque to zip through traffic. Maximum power from the 1.5-litre engine is 109hp, while maximum torque is claimed to be 141Nm. These figures are similar to those from the 1.5-litre engine of the Vios, but this is a different engine, since the Avanza is rear-wheel-driven and the Vios front-wheel-driven. Toyota says the Avanza’s suspension setting has been re-adjusted, and that has probably worked, because among the comments on the original model was poor stability at highway speeds. That’s not a problem any more. You simply have to bear in mind this is an MPV and not a passenger car, then drive accordingly.
The brakes – vented discs in front and drums in the rear – come with ABS and EBD, but they’re unimpressive in terms of both stopping performance and pedal feel. The minor changes have given the new model a much more up-to-date appearance. It looks more sporty and luxurious. However, the interior reminds you the Avanza is not a new vehicle. Although the second and third rows of seats can be folded to increase luggage space, you don’t get a perfectly flat floor.
This is also a subcompact, so don’t expect the seats to be large. Forget about inviting six American friends to tour the city’s tourist spots. If they’re Thai friends, however, there shouldn’t be any problems. But reserve the back seats for the kids. Don’t put any valued friends in the rear spots if you want the relationship to last beyond the first kilometre.
The design of the console and switches also tells you this model is a generation behind the rest. Compare it with other Toyota models, such as the Yaris, and the age difference is obvious. Among the Avanza’s standard features are a separate air-conditioning system for rear passengers, powered windows and mirrors and an audio system with MP3 compatibility. The 1.5S also gets an aerodynamic package and a driver’s-side air bag. Despite the fact that it comes with pretty old technology, I liked the Avanza for several reasons. First is its price, which makes it affordable to young buyers and families on a low budget. Then, the ride has been improved to an acceptable level, and there’s now enough power for highway driving.

Kingsley Wijayasinha
The Nation


Toyota Avanza - Packaged Just Right,

Wednesday, January 05, 2005  By YS Khong   

Toyota Avanza – Just Right Package

After missing out on the launch of the Toyota Avanza a few weeks ago, we were finally invited to take one out for a test drive. We took it to Penang on a working holiday, and clocked close to 900 kilometres of mixed driving.

Timing plays an important part in any success story, and the Toyota Avanza could not have come at a better time. The market is hungry for a small utility vehicle at a reasonable price. The Unser is getting out of reach of the average buyer, or perhaps there may be some who are intimidated by its size. This is also a time when fuel prices have just gone up and a car that goes easy on fuel appeals.

It also comes in a size that is just right; neither too small, nor too big. In Penang, we squeezed two carloads of people, eight in all, into the Avanza with no problem at all. The 1.3 litre DOHC fuel injected engine, with variable valve timing, generates 89ps, equivalent to the 1.6 litre engines of one decade ago, so there is plenty of power to spare. The unit we tested was an automatic, and the 4-speed gearbox featured well selected gear ratios that had the right balance between speed and power. In top gear, it was 30 kph per 1000 rpm, and driven at the highway legal speed of 110 kph, the engine is easing along at just under 3700 rpm, a little high compared to a normal car, but with plenty of reserve for quick spurts when required. It will hit 150 kph if you want it to, at 5000 rpm, and will run the whole day at this speed with no problem, except for some heavier fuel consumption. We covered 430 kilometres on RM55.00 of fuel, at speeds between 110 to 130 kph. That works out to be 12.8 sen per kilometre, and we were loaded up with at least 400 kg of people and stuff. We found the Avanza to be extremely responsive to throttle, and could actually out-drag some larger capacity cars, the makes of which I shall decline to name.

In terms of room, the Avanza is hard to beat. As said earlier, it seats eight although it is rated a seven seater, and those who require more space can fold down or completely remove (some spanner work needed) the rear seats. It is a small vehicle, being 4070mm long (which is shorter than most cars), 1630mm wide, and tall with 1690mm height; but it is the two-box design that makes it very spacious inside.

In the handling department, the Avanza is a stable vehicle on the move, except that it is subject to a little sideways movement in crosswinds or when a large truck or bus passes by. Around corners, it is quite well behaved, and it will see you through even the most treacherous of bends as long as you remember to respect the fact that it rides higher than an ordinary car. The front Macpherson struts keep the ride firm, while the stabilizer bar keeps roll to a minimum. The rear uses a four-link arrangement with coil springs and a panhard rod to keep the rear axle from sideways movement. This arrangement is a well-proven one, having seen service in many of the earlier Corolla and Corona models.

Brakes are a disc/drum combination between front and back, and they work well even though there is no ABS. Our automatic unit came with 185/70 R14 tyres mounted on 5J alloy rims as standard. Airbags are noticeably not fitted, but I suppose cost considerations had a lot to do with that.

In terms of looks, the Avanza is great from the front, but the rear view leaves something to be desired. However, remember that as a ‘do everything; vehicle, function has to take precedence over form. The ride height is excellent, according the driver and front passenger a commanding view of the surroundings.

In a nutshell, we all agreed that the Avanza is an excellent package if you want a good compromise between a family car and a utility vehicle. For the family that can only afford something in the RM60k range, and needs that little extra versatility, the Avanza is it. If the waiting time was not 12 months, I would put my money where my mouth is.


Toyota Avanza

It has often been said that Toyota is like a giant oil tanker: it is big and has enormous power but when it comes to changing course, it takes a while for things to happen… but once it has changed course, competitors beware! This analogy is coming true now as the company starts to introduce a new range of products developed along different business models to meet the new competitors from Korea.

The first ‘shot’ fired was with the Toyota Vios, a sedan conceived primarily with the Asian market (particularly China) in mind and took intro consideration the economic levels of many markets. This meant it had to be priced more affordably than a Corolla, historically the entry-level model for Toyota. The Corolla had brought millions of people around the world into the Toyota family since 1966 but over the decades, especially from the late 1980s, its price rose to the point where it could not be considered ‘entry-level’.

With the Vios, which used the New Basic Concept (NBC) platform developed for this century, Toyota came up with a new sedan which had an affordable pricetag below RM90,000 without compromising in the one area which it had built its reputation – build quality. Decades of building cars has taught Toyota engineers how to ‘build in’ quality into their products and even when it has come to developing cars that cost less to build – and therefore can be cheaper in the showrooms – they know just how to do it well.

Now comes the second shot – the Toyota Avanza, a small MPV which is an entirely new model line. It is not adapted from an existing model anywhere in the world and was developed specifically for this region.

"My brief was to develop the Avanza for the Asean region and at this time, we are only thinking of selling it in the Asean markets. Perhaps we may also offer it in other countries outside Asean but it is not something we are looking at for now," said Kaoru Hosokawa, the Chief Engineer for the Avanza who was present at the media preview this morning.

That Toyota chose a MPV for its second low-cost effort was probably influenced by the huge success of the Kijang/Unser over the years. Although the sedan is still a popular bodystyle, people-carriers are much more popular in Indonesia and the Philippines and sell in very large volumes, In Indonesia especially, the Kijang has become something of a ‘national car’ given its sales dominance.

As you will see from the Avanza advertisements which will appear from October 29th, this new Toyota model ‘breaks the rules’ in the area of pricing. It retails for as low as RM55,967 (with insurance too) for the manual version and RM59,989.88 for the automatic – price levels which are extremely unusual for a Toyota today. Older readers will recall that the last time a Toyota Corolla cost this ‘little’ was in the late 1980s.

Getting down to this price level was not easy and according to sources at UMW Toyota Motor, long and hard battles were fought with their principals to get the price down as low as possible. The Avanza itself was already the subject of intelligent cost-cutting measures to make it cheaper to produce so the retail price was a matter of how much profit was desired – or how much Toyota was willing to give up to capture even more market share.

Being a company that has always looked very long-term, it can safely be presumed that Toyota has been willing to make less money today to gain market share, which is crucial for the future as the market opens up. They do their homework well and when they are ready, they blast in and displace many others.

So let’s take the first look at the Avanza now. At a glance, it may look like a very modern but smaller version of the Unser but that’s to be expected since there is only so much you can do with a one-box MPV (although the French still find some unusual approaches to take). However, the front end is imposing and incorporates styling cues which you will see in other Toyota models. The multi-reflector headlights seem over-sized for the body but should give good illumination while the deep front bumper gives a sense of strength.

 

 

 

Talking of strength, the Avanza body is GOA-certified, which means it satisfies Toyota’s Global Outstanding Assessment crash tests, a must for every new model. GOA crash tests are comparable to the toughest international standards and even exceed them in some areas (eg rear-end collisions). However, it should be noted that airbags and ABS are not present as these add a significant cost which will impact the price. Of course, there will be those who say they are prepared to pay the extra money and presumably, UMW Toyota Motor will be listening to feedback to see if there are enough people who will do this and then add the safety features.

The powertrain is one of the more advanced areas of the Avanza and the engine is one which Malaysians have already seen and experienced in the Perodua Kembara DVVT. It’s the same 1298 cc 4-cylinder engine – even the engine code is the same – but not exactly the same in that the engine control unit (ECU) programming is different to be more suited to MPV usage.

As with the newer Toyotas, the long-stroke engine has VVT-i which stands for Variable Valve Timing – intelligent. The mechanism, along with four valves per cylinder and dual overhead camshafts, boosts output, enhances fuel efficiency as well as reduces pollutants in the exhaust gases. With VVT-i providing continuously variable valve timing, the compact engine offers performance that is similar to conventional engines in the 1.5 litre class. It has ample torque at low to medium speeds and can also effortlessly accelerate to high speeds. Maximum power output is 65 kW/89 ps at 6000 rpm while maximum torque is 120 Nm at 3200 rpm. Customers have a choice of 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmissions.

The Avanza has rear-wheel drive which, in the view of Chief Engineer Hosokawa, is more suitable for this type of vehicle and also better for the conditions in the Asean area. While front-wheel drive has its merits and comes in very useful when more space in the cabin is needed, the 4070 mm long Avanza already has enough body length so having RWD is not disadvantageous. It is better when a full load is carried and provides better rear-end traction as weight distribution is better,

The suspension (by the way, the bodywork is monocoque, like a passenger car’s) has a simple design too, making for low cost. Up front are independent MacPherson struts and at the rear, the live axle is located by a 4-link arrangement and rides on coil springs. It’s a proven layout and one which is also durable.

It is also evident that the designers did a lot of studies of this region and found that apart from rough road conditions, there is also flooding along roads. To make sure that Avanza owners have no problems in such conditions, the ground clearance is a generous 180 mm and like the Unser, the air intake is set high up, out of the way of even water splashes into the engine bay.

The rest of the chassis is conventional with a disc/drum brake combination and the tyres have a size of 185/70R14. On the manual version, 5J steel wheels are standard while the automatic comes with alloy wheels (the spare is steel).

Versatility is another highlight of the Avanza and in the spacious cabin, there are three rows of seats to accommodate seven adults. It’s actually very impressive packaging to get the third row into a body with this length and what’s more, the third row is actually comfortable enough for adults. It’s not like the third row seats in some vehicles which are just cushioned pads planted on the cargo area floor and people sitting on them have their knees under their chins.

    

 

 

 

 

The second and third row can be folded flat for more cargo space but the third row cannot be removed altogether. Folding of the seats is easy and access to the third row is done by folding the second row seat flat and then flipping it up. The only odd thing is that you can only flip up the seat on the left side as the one of the right won’t do that. So it seems like the model was conceived with righthand drive markets in mind.

The dashboard has a nice modern look with an ergonomically efficient layout of controls and switches. Recognising that the cassette format is going the way of the dinosaurs, UMW Toyota Motor’s products planners have fitted a 1-DIN head unit with a CD-player and radio.

For the driver, there’s a very clean instrument panel layout with a touch of sportiness. A tiny differentiation between the manual and automatic version is that the odometer for the former is an analogue type whereas the automatic gets a digital LCD display. The switchgear is classic Toyota, meaning it has a solid feel while the steering wheel has a nice style. Steering column adjustment is not available so you have to live with the position chosen by Toyota.

All the conveniences we’ve come to take for granted are present including power windows (front and rear) and central locking. As a first in its class, the Avanza’s air-conditioning system is a dual blower type with a second set of vents on the ceiling to blow cool air to the rear. The fan speed for the second blower is also adjustable although it would be nice if a switch could be put on the dashboard for the driver to switch it off when not needed.

Storage space is always an important thing in a car these days and even more so in a MPV. For the Avanza, there are no less than 17 storage areas and these include cupholders and even slots for pens and handphones at the rear.

As would be already known by many readers, the Avanza is built at the Perodua plant outside Rawang, Selangor. In order to be able to build the Avanza to Toyota’s exceptionally high quality standards, Perodua spent some RM29 million upgrading its production facilities. Much of this went into the paintshop which now puts a finish on cars that is claimed to be the best in Malaysia. Though there are dedicated lines to make the Avanza (which is expected to sell at around 2,000 units a month), many of the processes also apply to the production of Perodua models so these too will see higher quality levels.

The decision to sub-contract the Avanza production to Perodua was due to insufficient capacity at UMW Toyota Motor’s own plant in Shah Alam. Rather than import the model from Indonesia and not be able to price it as attractively, it was decided that getting Perodua to assemble it would make more sense at this time. Furthermore, as the plant is owned by Daihatsu, which is a member of the Toyota Group, it was even easier to team up.

"In Indonesia, we build the Avanza at the Daihatsu plant and in Malaysia, we do it at the Perodua plant. This sort of collaboration is quite effective in optimising our production in Asean and I will be watching it closely," said Dato’ Akira Okabe, Managing Officer of Toyota Motor Corporation.

BRIEF DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

The press preview of the Avanza was a much-awaited event, given the rumours of it costing below RM60,000. So it was hardly surprising that a large number of journalists turned up for the event at the Perodua plant this morning. Due to the limited number of vehicles available, only two laps per person were allowed and these two were on the test track with two long straights and no curves.

From this brief drive, it was apparent that the 1.3-litre engine is a robust unit and should offer reasonable performance in normal driving conditions. In the higher rev range, the engine noise does intrude so some extra insulation may be welcome but at town speeds, it is fairly smooth and quiet.

Handling-wise, the Avanza is impressive and very stable in tight turns, It also shows the same stability in fast weaving and this quality could well be something the chief engineer, whose background is in chassis engineering, could well have given a lot of attention to. High marks also go to the ride comfort although we will have to see how the Avanza takes bumps and potholes (which were not present on the smooth test track).

The build quality of the vehicles was very good and those in the showroom can be expected to also be of the high quality typical of Toyota products. Though it’s a low-priced vehicle, Toyota has not compromised in areas that are visible to customers although for under RM60,000, you obviously cannot expect them to provide the same standards as a Corolla.