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Here’s a surprise – Toyota South Africa has quietly updated the utilitarian Toyota Avanza MPV to include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRC) and brake assist. The electronic safety nets come as standard on all models – even on the basic panel van. We were expecting it to arrive on the next-generation model, so it’s good news to see it equipped on the current car.

As in Malaysia, the Avanza is available there with a choice of two new Dual VVT-i four-cylinder engines – the 1.3 litre 1NR-VE develops 95 hp at 6,000 rpm and 121 Nm at 4,200 rpm, while the 1.5 litre 2NR-FE churns out 103 hp and 136 Nm. Both engines are mated exclusively to a five-speed manual gearbox, with the sole exception of the 1.5 SX model, which receives a four-speed automatic option.

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The VSC button is located under the air-con controls

With the addition of VSC, prices have gone up by R4,400 (RM1,300) across the board, so they now start at R219,100 (RM65,500) for the 1.3 S, rising up to R235,900 (RM70,500) for the 1.3 SX, which adds standard air-con. The 1.5 SX costs R243,100 (RM72,600), the automatic version is priced at R261,600 (RM78,200), and the top 1.5 TX that gains alloy wheels, front and rear air-con and a radio retails at R277,100 (RM82,800). The 1.3 S panel van is priced at R224,400 (RM67,000), R9,800 (RM2,900) more than before.

UMW Toyota Motor has already confirmed that, henceforth, all new cars it sells in Malaysia will come with VSC as standard – so here’s hoping our Avanza will get it in a future update.