Totoya Aygo review

Totoya Aygo review
Totoya Aygo review

In Europe, Toyota’s Aygo sits fairly low down the table for city cars, not even making the top five. In the UK, it currently tops the segment for sales, giving some idea of how important the model is for the brand in this country.

It’s a key component in the manufacturer’s ambition to win over more young buyers, offering a fun, funky counterpoint to the staid, sensible and (whisper it) middle-aged image that comes with consistently topping reliability charts.

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Toyota Aygo x-clusiv

Price: £13,895
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, petrol
Power: 71bhp
Torque: 69lb/ft
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Top speed: 99mph
0-62mph: 13.8 seconds
Economy: 68.9mpg
CO2 emissions:93g/km

In fact appearances are so important to young buyers that Toyota reckons that the number one reason buyers go for the Aygo is its design, so although it’s been refreshed the car is still instantly recognisable. The X-shaped nose has been tweaked to make it more prominent and the LED running lights front and rear shaped to emphasise the car’s width. It makes for a more individual and eye-catching design than the Aygo’s largely squared-off rivals – vital in a segment where appearances mean a lot.

After refreshing the design, Toyota’s main aim with this mid-life refresh was to improve the way the Aygo drives.

For starters the steering has been retuned to offer more feel. I’m not convinced about how much feel has been added but the Aygo’s steering has more weight than most of its rivals. That’s not to say that it’s heavy. It’s still easy enough to twirl around in the tight confines of a city but out on bigger, faster roads it feels like it has more substance and the car’s less likely to wander under your grip.

Toyota Aygo review

The suspension has also been upgraded and refined. It makes for a car with an absorbent ride around town but that doesn’t feel loose at higher speeds. Over well-maintained Danish road surfaces the Aygo felt settled and smooth but it’ll take a proper test on Britain’s shocking surfaces to get the full measure of the Aygo’s comfort.

The Aygo’s single engine is carried over from the previous model but with some significant modifications to make it quieter, more efficient and more responsive at low revs. The three-cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol now produces 71bhp, up from 68bhp, and torque at low revs has improved while official economy figures have risen to 68.9mpg.

For power and performance it’s on par with the average for the segment while its economy is marginally ahead of the game. A 0-62mph time of 13.8 seconds isn’t much to shout about but it’s largely irrelevant for a car that’ll spend its days in an urban setting. The improved low-down torque is more important for dashing into gaps, although it still needs a decent prod to make progress.

Toyota Aygo review
Magenta Fizz colour is going to split opinion

Most buyers will inevitably opt for the five-speed manual transmission although there is a x-shift automated manual for those who “don’t do” clutches.

Despite efforts to make it quieter, the three-pot isn’t close to the most refined in the segment. There’s distinctly more thrum than the VW Group 1.0 in the Up etc, especially at lower speeds and Kia’s 1.25 four-cylinder in the Picanto has it beaten for volume and smoothness. Once you’re cruising at higher speeds it does settle down and the improved cabin sound insulation means it’s up to handling longer motorway trips.

While it’s well insulated, the cabin is less successful when it comes to presentation. The big circular speedo binnacle atop the steering column is neat, flanked by a linear rev counter and key warning lights. The body-coloured surrounds for air vents and door panels work well too but the central console looks and feels terribly old-fashioned. The plastic is flat and grey and the weirdly shaped air con controls fall well wide of the quirky mark they were aiming for. And while it’s comfortable for those in the front the rear space is more limited than some rivals, especially as the sloping roof eats into headroom.

Toyota Aygo review

The Aygo comes in six trims and the list of x-based puns is enough to make you go cross-eyed but essentially runs from the base x up to the most luxurious x-clusiv. At the core of the range sits the x-play which features air-conditioning, steering wheel-mounted stereo controls, a height adjustable driver’s seat, speed limiter and the x-touch multimedia system.

All but base spec cars get the x-touch, which also adds a reversing camera. The seven-inch display is nicer to look at and use than other Toyota systems and the smartphone integration featured in higher grade models adds Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and voice control.

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X-clusiv features luxuries such as auto air con, part leather upholstery, keyless entry and start and the Toyota Safety Sense pack with autonomous emergency braking and lane departure alert.

Between x-play and x-clusiv the x-plore and x-cite offer more tech or design-led approaches.The x-cite, in particular stands out thanks to its opinion-splitting (bogging) Magenta Fizz two-tone paint and interior highlights, while the x-plore is available with a sliding fabric “funroof” like the Fiat 500.

Toyota Aygo review

It’s a comprehensive, if slightly confusing range that starts at £9,695 and works its way up to £14,595, putting it more or less on a par with the Kia Picanto and Renault Twingo but stretching its top price beyond the VW/Skoda/Seat trio of Up, Citigo, Mii.

The Kia Picanto has long been our favourite city car and hangs onto its crown in the face of Toyota’s offering thanks to wider engine choices and generous equipment levels but the Aygo isn’t too far behind. It’s light, nippy and agile around town but is up to the task of longer, faster journeys. There’s plenty of high-tech kit and customisation options for the savvy young buyer and its only real weaknesses are its restricted rear space, that outdated looking dashboard and a price above some rivals.

Toyota Aygo review

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