Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

The petrol engine line-up starts with a 1.6-litre petrol engine (known as a Valvematic) which is designed to be very efficient. For a modest size, it boasts an impressive 130bhp and a 0-62mph time of 10.4 seconds, yet will return an average of 44mpg. Moving up there's an excellent 1.8-litre which boasts 145bhp and completes the 0-62mph dash in 9.4 seconds.

The 2.0-litre petrol is likely to be less popular, offering only a small performance advantage over the 1.8-litre. Toyota has admitted that the 2.0-litre petrol is included in the range mainly to offer a hierarchy for company car choice lists. People who want automatic transmission on the petrol versions can choose a continuously variable transmission, which has a sequential manual change facility.

The diesel line-up is more interesting with the entry level 124bhp 2.0 D-4D (badged 130) ducking under the 10-second barrier for the 0-62mph sprint, but also offering exceptional fuel economy of 55mpg and low CO2. The TR version offers even better economy and emissions than other equipment grades as its been optimised for company car drivers whose personal taxation is based on emissions.

There is also a 2.2 D-4D 150 with 148bhp, offering livelier performance plus an automatic transmission option. For outright Toyota Avensis performance, there's the 175bhp version of the 2.2-litre diesel, which is offered in more trim levels than before. This feels quite brisk, with excellent mid-range performance making for safe overtaking.

The Avensis has never been the choice of those who enjoy spirited driving, but given the work these cars are typically expected to do, most owners would sacrifice a truly engaging drive for comfort and refinement. Toyota is well aware of this and while the Avensis is well-mannered on the road, it doesn't set the pulse racing on twisty routes like the Ford Mondeo and Mazda6 do.

However, it feels secure and soaks up most bumps with minimum drama.