The Toyota Avensis has been named New Fleet Car of the Year in the 2004 Fleet Excellence Awards. The Avensis emerged the top-rated vehicle among all those voted for by fleet managers across the UK.
The awards, hosted by industry titles Fleet Management and Fleet Week, also saw the new Toyota Prius named Eco Car of the Year and Toyota honoured as Eco Manufacturer of the Year. Further reward was earned by the Toyota RAV4, which was highly commended in the Small 4x4 category.
The Avensis, launched in spring 2003, was praised for both its competitive list price and its formidable whole life costs profile. Particular attention was drawn to the car’s unmatched performance on running costs, regardless of the engine chosen, taking into account elements such as insurance, repair costs, servicing, lease rates and carbon dioxide emissions. The 2.0-litre D-4D common rail diesel engine was also praised as the first engine in its class to meet Euro 4 emissions standards, so avoiding the three per cent diesel car tax penalty for company car drivers.
The Avensis also performed strongly thanks to its generous specification and its class-leading safety performance, having achieved five stars and the highest score in its segment in Euro NCAP passenger safety crash testing.
In the words of Fleet Management and Fleet Week: "In what is a highly competitive and dwindling market, few carmakers have targeted an upper medium car at fleet as brilliantly as Toyota has with the Avensis."
The new Toyota Prius was voted Eco Car of the Year, winning much praise for the clean yet competitive performance from its Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain, which combines a petrol engine with an electric motor for exceptionally low emissions and excellent fuel economy.
The Prius was also commended for running costs that are in line with conventional diesel-powered D-segment models, its attractive design, clever packaging and its use of advanced technology for features such as the Bluetooth mobile phone interface and DVD-based satellite navigation with touch-screen operation. The new Toyota Prius went on sale in the UK earlier this month and orders are already exceeding expectations.
The significant advances made by Toyota with the Prius contributed to Toyota taking the Eco Manufacturer of the Year title. This award also reflected other aspects of Toyota’s clean engine technology that have already reached the marketplace, including the Euro 4-compliant 2.0-litre D-4D engine and the 2.0-litre D-CAT unit, the world’s cleanest production diesel engine. The introduction of D-CAT in the Avensis in autumn 2003 marked a watershed in diesel engine performance, achieving particulates and nitrogen oxides emissions levels up to 90 per cent lower than Euro 4 requirements.
The RAV4, Europe’s best-selling SUV, rounded off Toyota’s success, gaining its commendation for its "rock solid residual values, cracking engines and decent styling".
Jon Pollock, General Manager for Toyota Fleet, said: "These awards are particularly satisfying for Toyota as they directly reflect the opinions of the country’s fleet managers. In the Avensis and the Prius we have exciting new products that continue to push forward industry standards and which deliver exceptionally strong rewards for fleet operators."
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