Toyota Aygo 2014 620x277

First Drive: Toyota Aygo

The Aygo has been a resounding success for Toyota, notching up some 760,000 sales across Europe over the nine years that’s it’s been available in the UK.

Now it’s time for a change. Teaming up with their partners at Citroen and Peugeot, the new Aygo promises to be something different, despite the shared platform between this and its siblings, the C1 and 108. Not that you’d be able to tell, as everything bar the front doors and windscreen, is different.

Where Peugeot has gone for grown up, big-car style, Toyota has gone wild with the crayons and placed an incredibly bold X graphic across the front of the car. The X can be swapped out at your local dealer, but with just three colours being available (gloss black, grey and ‘super chrome’) personalisation options are perhaps a little limited.

There’s more you can make your own on the inside, with styling packs enabling you to swap out much of the shiny plastic for different colour shiny plastic.

Standard equipment levels are good across the range, with even the entry-level model getting projector headlights, USB and auxiliary inputs for the stereo, electric windows and tyre pressure monitoring. Step up to the expected best-seller, the x-play, and larger wheels, a better sound system, Bluetooth connectivity and air conditioning are added to the mix.

For DAB, a rear camera and a swish multimedia system, you’ll need to splash out on the x-pression. I’m not making these names up.

Carried over from the outgoing Aygo is the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, now revised to produce a little more power and lower emissions. That means there’s a CO2 figure of 95g/km that translates to a car tax bill of zero, although you will have to stump up for the London congestion charge if you head in to the city.

It’s in the city that the Aygo makes a convincing case for itself. With a very short wheelbase, it’s nimble, while the engine is peppy enough to cope with urban environments with ease. Add in light controls and mostly good visibility and it really suits the urban environment.

It’s not quite so at home on the motorway, where the tiny engine is starting to show its age. It gets off the line sharply enough, but then runs out of power early on. Accelerating from even 40mph up to 70mph takes an awfully long time, making even the most mundane overtaking move a thing that needs to be planned carefully.

A slightly sloppy gear change doesn’t help matters, often leaving you lurching between ratios and losing momentum.

Once you’ve got up to speed, the ride quality is surprisingly refined. Introduce a bend to proceedings and it’s all still perfectly acceptable, thanks to a stiffer body and less weight than previously. A bump mid-bend doesn’t upset the car too much, allowing you to make reasonably swift progress just so long as you can keep up that valuable momentum.

On the inside there’s some cheap plastics on show, especially when compared to the likes of Volkswagen’s up!, although the excellent touch screen system distracts from that on higher spec models.

That screen includes the innovative mirror-link facility that allows you to hook up a mobile phone to the system. Once you’ve plugged your Android or iPhone in, some apps will appear for use on the car’s screen. Open up an app like Waze, for example, and you’ve got sat-nav with live traffic immediately available.

All told, it’s a convincing city car. The Volkswagen up! is a little smarter in its packaging, while the Hyundai i10 provides a more pleasant environment, but the Aygo never falters too much in any one area.

The only thing really counting against the Aygo is the competition from its siblings at Citroen and Peugeot, both of which are a little bit cheaper. Add in a few extra equipment options, such as a fabric sliding roof, the option of a more powerful and modern 1.2-litre engine (with more economical stop/start technology on both engine options) and a slightly bigger boot in both French models, and it starts to become a little difficult to recommend the Aygo directly.

However, there’s no doubting which of the trio makes for the boldest model, and that should go a long way to enticing customers in to Toyota’s showrooms. The fact that it can hold its own in the city just adds to the appeal.

Price: £11,595
Engine: 1.0-litre 3-cylinder 12v petrol
Top speed: 99 mph
0-62 mph: 14.2 seconds
Power: 68 bhp / 69 PS
Torque: 70 ft-lb / 95 Nm
Official combined mpg: 68.9 mpg
Road Test economy: N/A
CO2 Emissions: 95 g/km
VED Band: A / £0 per year
Insurance group: 7E
Kerb weight: 900 kg