THE Avensis would be the worthy flagship model of any manufacturer.
The mantel rests easily on the shoulders of this highly impressive car, built at Toyota's Derby plant. Its looks are executive, its performance premier league.
When Toyota raised the stakes in the key D segment at the launch of the all-new Avensis model in March, its competitors must have shuddered.
Designed, developed and engineered for the European market, it oozes class - at an affordable price.
It comes in five specs offering a wide choice of equipment and I took the spacious and elegant T Spirit for a week.
It's a big car - larger than its predecessor - but surprisingly still actually shorter than the Volkswagen Passat or Ford Mondeo.
It's big on style, too and with plenty of power to match its poise.
The figure hugging seats must be among the most comfortable around and once the doors shut with a satisfying "clunk," the driving is memorable for being so quiet.
This is not surprising, however, for Toyota has made noise reduction one of its major considerations.
With so little exterior noise to distract you, the car's audio system, which combines radio, cassette and CD player functions, really comes into its own.
There is also DVD navigation system with remote control - one of the most sophisticated on the market - to take the headache out of route planning on most models.
An optional DVD full mapping navigation system can be controlled through a voice recognition function.
The two litre VVT-i petrol engine in my test vehicle was the latest derivative of the advanced direct-injection petrol unit in the old model, but with better emission levels, improved performance and superior acceleration.
For stats merchants, it develops 145bhp at 5,700rpm and has maximum torque of 196Nm at 4,000rpm.
That takes it to a top speed of 130mph and the 62mph sprint in just over nine seconds. However, it has good economy, returning nearly 35mpg on the combined cycle.
Given all this, plus its best in class insurance ratings and substantially reduced maintenance and crash repair costs, you have a very tempting vehicle.
Achieving lower cost of ownership benefits was a fundamental consideration for the Avensis' engineering team, which was tasked with the job of using intelligent technology to keep running and maintenance costs to a minimum.
Special attention has been paid to utilising components that would be cheap and simple to replace in the event of typical low-speed front and rear impacts.
For example, a bolt-on crushable box section is incorporated in the front bumper mountings, which can be replaced without cutting or welding, and headlamp brackets are designed to break on impact, before the lamp itself is damaged.
Not only are parts cheaper, they allow repairs to be carried out more quickly, saving in labour costs.
Toyota reckon that after an accident where components such as bonnet, front wing, radiator grille, headlamp and air conditioning condenser require replacement, the new Avensis is cheaper to repair by up to 60 per cent.
Such an accident may cost £800 in parts for the Avensis, whereas a similar accident in in a Renault Laguna would run to £1,286, and in a VW Passat, £1064, it claims.
Toyota Avensis T Spirit 5dr 2.0 M
Mechanical: 1454bhp, 1,998cc 4 cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-spd manual gearbox
Max speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 9.1 secs
Combined mpg: 34.9
Insurance group: 9
CO2 emissions: 191g/km
BiK rating: 38%
Warranty: 3yrs; 6yrs anti-rust; 3yrs paint