15 January 2012

2012 Toyota Avanza Malaysia Spec - technical review

It would be pointless to dwell about the ladder frame chassis and ageing drivetrain combo in the new 2012 Toyota Avanza, as those arguments are, well, pointless. Remember each and every times we submit the project deliverables to the client where while our deliverables are superb ( it should be or else we would have been sacked), although what the client didn't know is that we made it using our good old equipment. Think about delivering engine structural analysis with the meshing work done using pirated cheap pre-processing software!

Toyota engineering prowess has indicated that there isn't a need to have a state-of-the-art monocoque chassis to accommodate 7 people and their luggage in "price-related" comfort. A properly tuned body bolted on a ladder frame should do the job. Not only it is simpler to design, and less sensitive to the advanced structural analysis, it is easier to construct, modified and modular. Hence, cheaper too. A properly tuned suspension, with strategic damping sheet placement can deliver a reasonable NVH quality. Talk about simple, good engineering design practise. Same goes with the drivetrain, if one's engine has a reasonably good spread of torque and reasonably powerful to drive the small MPV with sensible driver behind the wheel, why would you want to turbocharged it? Similar analogy goes for the 4 speed automatic transmission too. Being reasonable is the buzzword here.

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What goes beyond reasonable is the level of engineering design detail, and prowess of Toyota engineers which will leave the rest of Asian engineers in their wake. Read on.

Exterior Design
While the outgoing Avanza is as slab sided as a 80's building, the new one offers more 3D element. The front end is dominated with an intricately designed headlamp, not unlike the JDM Toyota Passo Sette in its silhouette with the kick back lower edge. The top-of-the-range S model you see here has an entirely different radiator grille and bumper design. This effectively means that the top version is no longer a regular version with slapped-on bodykits. The entire envelope is curvier, with stretched headlamps and body surfacing giving the 2012 Avanza quite a chunky appearance.
This is further emphasized by the rear end styling. The D-pillar mounted rear combi is gone and replaced with a wrapped-around item that comes with a very modern outlook. The bulging profile and stretched pointy look of it lend some dynamism in the design. While the overall silhouette is unmistakably mundane MPV, the sheet metal at the back has been inject with some style. The tail gate outer panel has a lot of creases going on it, preventing a brick-slab look. Rear spoiler is standard for all model, including the cheapest 1.3E version. 

Interior Design
This is the section where the Toyota engineer's capability leave everyone in the dust. Talk about the a practicality. The front and rear door trim lower pocket has been design to hold bottles, cans and cups. Not alternately but simultaneously. Refer the photos below.
The interior is shaded in dark for all version. No worry to spoil the beige interior this time around. The silver accents are applied on the power window panel on the door trim. The printed motif, which appeared garish on the 2012 Myvi, is just fine here. In fact, the longitudinally aligned motif raise some element of style of what is otherwise sombre cabin.
The IP has been extensively redesigned from ground up as far as the outgoing Avanza is concern. The new IP is not only more stylish, but is has been mounted lower to aid the air of spaciousness to the cabin. Toyota stylists play with texture here in their effort to spice up the plastic, which otherwise is just a cheap hard black material. While Proton stylist goes organic for Exora whole IP top portion, Toyota saves the money and textured the part closer to the reaching hand instead. More after the jump.
The silvered portion break the monotonous of the IP. The textured portion makes the center console appears lighter and it break the mass. The audio system is an integrated item for the 1.5L model, which comes with the usual tuner, CD player, MP3, WMA, AUX, USB and iPOD connectivity. The 1.3E model however is fitted only with 1-DIN item plays CD, radio and nothing else.

The aircond controller is a simple dial affair. The dials do what it says on the tin. For all versions of 2012 Avanza, twin-blower comes as standard, with its own controller and gets its air supply from the air projected by the vents at the top of the IP.

The steering wheel is a 3 spoke item with tilt adjustable for the 1.5L version. The 1.5G and S model get the silver accent on the wheel, as well as the audio switch.
The steering wheel has ditched the current Avanza cheap-looking item and has been replaced with a more classy item , particularly for the 1.5L version with their silver accents. The meter binnacle is complemented by the Multi Info Display for the 1.5G version onwards.

The Proton Exora and 2012 Honda CR-V engineers that told their boss that when the seat with one-touch fold and tumble operation cannot be designed to slide should be shivering right now and need to update their CV. This is because the cheap MPV from Toyota has clearly featured both. This, and the 50-50 seat division has doubled its flexibility. The 3rd row seat is also 50-50 split to give the user some flexibility in compromising between human and luggage.

Additional cupholders are available for the 2nd row occupants. The design and mechanism looks to be inspired by the item on current Proton Personal.

The illustration from the 3 photos below (credit to Paultan.org) show that the interior of the 2012 Avanza has been thoroughly redesigned to fend off its Asian rival such as Proton Exora, Perodua Alza, Nissan Grand Livina and the forthcoming Suzuki Ertiga. The overall ambiance has been injected with slight up market intention, particularly with high quality trimmings ( seat fabric, motifed silver accent, proper headlining) and modern outlook. This is where the money has been spent. Well spent indeed. All this features are for the daily user can seat on, touch and feel on daily basis, not simply for occasional weekend blast or spirited drive.

The 2012 Malaysian Avanza cabin - 3 images above are credited to Paultan

Two engines are available for the Avanza buyer, with both are carried over with some retuning that results in Euro IV compliance and some resulting reduction in power. The entry level model is powered by the K3-VE with 1,298cc kicking some 91PS@6000rpm and 117Nm@4400 rpm. This powertrain is available only with the 5 speed manual transmission.

The other variant is 3SZ-VE displacing 1,495cc. As with the 1.3L version, this engine is also configured in in-line  four layout wiht VVT-i mechanism and chain drive. The 1.5L produced 103PS@6000rpm and 136Nm@4400rpm. This version is paired exclusively with the 4 speed automatic transmission


The steers is now electically assisted unit to reap some fuel efficiency advantage. The MPV is suspended by McPherson struts up front and 4-link with lateral rod with a tuned spring which was said to reduce the current model bouncy rear ride. Braking power is provided by the disc and drum combo. The 1.3E model rides on 185/70 R14 tyre with steel wheel, while the  1.5E rides on the same size, but wrapping an alloy wheel instead of steel unit. The G and S version rides on bigger 15" alloy with 185/65 R15 tyres.

Dimensionally, the 2012 Avanza/Xenia is 4,150mm long, 1,660mm wide and 1,695mm tall. Wheelbase is 2,665mm. This is 20mm longer, 15mm wider and the wheeltrack of 1,425/1,435mm (F/R) is 20mm wider than outgoing model which was said to enhance the stability of the MPV.


The 2012 Avanza is keenly priced in our market. UMW Toyota also has switched the production of the new Avanza from the Perodua Rawang to the Indonesian plant. To combat the rising of material and engineering cost, a new, more cost effective solution need to be found in order to continue to keenly price the model. Some whisper from the component maker said that it is 20-30% cheaper to produce the car in Indonesia instead of Malaysia. 

The Malaysian pricing is as follow:
1.3E: RM63,864

All prices quoted are OTR for solid color. The 1.3E strikes right at the Perodua Alza 1.5 A Premium. While the top range 1.5S will make the prospective buyer of Proton Exora CFE ( Bold Premium) and Nissan Grand Livina 1.6L spares a second thought.

Would you rather choose an emotional and spirited drive of turbocharged MPV with spacious cabin, or one that is best at nothing except its very car-like driving position, or the one that has world-class cabin but comes with "reasonable" drivetrain? Its your money and its your choice!

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