Launched in 2005 the original Toyota Aygo established itself as a competitor in what has become a growing market for compact, economical hatchbacks aimed primarily at the city dweller. The Aygo I tested at the time was a three-door and I remember finding it worthy but not really engaging.
Since then, we have seen the launch of notable contenders in this market, particularly the Volkswagen Up
and its siblings the Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii. This latest Toyota Aygo, produced alongside the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 in a new factory in the Czech Republic, aims to keep Toyota up with the game.
If the old Aygo was a bit forgettable, the new one has much more presence. Toyota has let it be known that they are deliberately moving to make the styling of their new cars a bit more extrovert (or should that be x-trovert?). Certainly, it is a bold move to put that strong ‘X’ graphic on the face of the Aygo, with its strong contrasting colours.
Notably for the smartphone generation, you can change the insert panels to give your Aygo a new look should, you wish, at a later date.
I admit I started off feeling rather negative about that bold new look. But, sometimes it is the slow-burn ideas that are the best and, by the time I handed back the keys, I had become quite a fan of Aygo’s new distinctive looks.
In the battle for ever lower fuel consumption and emissions, small is good, when it comes to engines. The Toyota Aygo is powered by a 998cc VVT-i engine. It helps the Aygo to sneak in under the trigger point for free tax with a 95 g/km emissions figure and the combined fuel economy is 68.9 mpg. Even driving with gusto, the lowest mileage per gallon I recorded was 45 mpg on a mixture of city and country roads. Exercise a little care, and you should easily get figures in the 50 mpg range.
I have always had a soft spot for small, efficient engines. I cut my motoring teeth in a succession of Hillman and Sunbeam Imps, with 875cc and 998cc engines. Being an impecunious student at the time, I honed my ability to drive rapidly, but economically, by building up momentum and trying to maintain it.
Nothing kills small care performance or economy more than standing on the brakes for every corner, then stamping on the throttle to build up speed again.
In reality, of course, the Aygo puts out decent power at 69 bhp. At low revs there are times when you are aware that there is a little three-cylinder engine under the bonnet. However, keep the revs up a bit, and you will probably be pleasantly surprised. With a well-subdued thrum from the three cylinders, the Aygo can pick up speed quite well in the overtaking range.
The figures bear this out. Acceleration 0-62 mph takes a leisurely 14.2 seconds. But, the more significant 50 - 70 mph acceleration range takes just 11.5 seconds. This is where it counts for overtaking, or merging onto a motorway.
The improvements on efficiency, with the new Aygo come not only from updates to the drivetrain, but also from the reduction in weight compared to the previous model. It may be lighter, but, thanks to a combination of higher grade steel and increased welds, it is also stiffer.
That brings better, sharper handling. Combine that with more responsive, precise steering and well-balanced controls and the Toyota Aygo is remarkably enjoyable to drive on the side roads – especially if you remember what I said about maintaining momentum in small-engined cars.
The ride quality is also improved and, with additional noise insulation, this is a more peaceful environment for driver and passengers.
The new Toyota Aygo is available in three and five-door versions with prices starting from £7,915 for the base model. In all there are five trim levels starting with the x, then moving through x-play, x-pression, x-cite and x-clusiv.
The test car was the five door x-clusive and that hike up the trim levels brings luxuries like air conditioning, Bluetooth phone connection, leather upholstery and even a reversing camera. Indeed, the Aygo equipment levels are notably high, with a full complement of front, side and curtain airbags, hill start assistance, tyre pressure monitor, LED headlights and alloy wheels.
From the x-pression model upwards (and optional on others) is a neat seven-inch touch screen that includes Bluetooth for phone calls and music streaming. A very neat touch is that – if you have a compatible phone – your screen will be displayed along with apps that can be used.
For today’s ‘connected’ motorist, that means you can check and read your emails and social media updates – but not while driving!
The interior is a more up-market place as the Aygo chases European standards. Yes, there are hard plastics, but, on the whole the dashboard looks good, although I would quibble slightly about the LED strip rev counter.
I found the driving position suited me, but it must be noted that the steering wheel is not adjustable for reach, just rake. You sit a little lower than on the previous Aygo and that has helped in terms of space in the front. Space in the back, however, is what you would expect in a small city car – good for children, but tight for full-size adults.
The boot is notably good for this class, although there is a bit of a sill over which loads have to be lifted. The luggage compartment cover is not the best.
You can have fun comparing prices and specification with the Peugeot and Citroen cars that come off the same production line. On the face of it, the Citroen is maybe a tad cheaper, but if you are looking that closely at the few pounds difference, bear in mind what you might get when it comes time to sell.
In this latest form the Toyota Aygo has the credentials it needs to battle with the new generation of city cars. And, for the style conscious city dweller, it also makes more of a statement. Toyota Aygo x-clusive 1.0 VVT-i 5 door
Carbon dioxide emissions: 95 g/km
VED band A
Combined fuel economy 68.9 mpg
Top speed: 99 mph
0-62: 14.2 secs
Power 69 bhp
Engine size 998cc
Boot capacity 168 litres