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Funkier styling with crisper handling means the new Toyota Aygo is shaping up to be a competent Volkswagen Up rival

What is it?

A new Toyota Aygo, the city car from the triumvirate produced in a joint venture between Toyota, Citroën (C1) and Peugeot (Peugeot 108). It has been such a successful collaboration – more than two million of the trio have found homes since 2005 – that continuing the partnership was a straightforward call.

This time around there are bigger visual differences between the three cars – on the outside, at least. To our eyes, the Toyota remains the most distinctive. It has this bold cross thing going on at the front, which is meant to look like some curved forms are breaking out of a cubic mould. Toyota doesn’t mind if its weirdness puts some buyers off; the idea is that other buyers will be too bowled over to buy anything else. It's a chance worth taking if you get character, Toyota thinks.

What allows the visual differentiation is that, outside, only the front doors and screen surround are common to the three cars. All other exterior panels are different, down to the Aygo’s double-bubble roof. That’s allowed by a more intelligent use of what is, in essence, the same platform as before, albeit heavily updated. The structure is much improved, with high-strength steels and extra spot welds (another 119 if you’re counting) used in key areas, which increase torsional rigidity and, presumably, crash performance significantly.

Toyota wants the new Aygo to be more ‘playful’ than before. Hence not only the design, but also a lower driver’s hip-point, making the driving position less upright and more youthful. Despite there being a 5mm lower roofline, then, front headroom has increased by 7mm. An 8mm wider track gives a little extra muscle to the stance (although these things are relative), while the wheelbase is the same and the overall length is up by just 25mm; at 3455mm, this is still a compact city car, as you’ll find out if you try to get in the back.

Power comes from a 69bhp 1.0 three-cylinder petrol engine, the only powerplant available. It has the same '1KR' designation as before, but has again been significantly reworked, primarily for greater efficiency. There’s now (if you spec stop-start) a version emitting as little as 88g/km of CO2. The regular five-speed manual is a 95g/km, 68.9mpg car, while even the five-speed single-clutch robotised, flappy-paddle manual – designated x-shift – emits just 97g/km (67.3mpg).

What's it like?

More pleasant inside, certainly. Our test cars were pre-production examples, but apparently not far away from the finished item save for trim fit, although that seemed decent enough. Bold colours and design touches make a welcome entrance, as does a 7-inch touchscreen on some models.

Toyota is offering a new degree of personalisation in this Aygo. The brighter bits of plastic can be swapped in a quarter of an hour for ones of a different colour; ditto plastic bits of the exterior, only in more time, and probably at a dealer, and probably leaving you with (or relieving you from) a two-tone Aygo. Which might be weird.

But if you’re reading Autocar the chances are you’re more interested in how it drives, and the news there is pretty positive. The old Aygo had a few good qualities, most notably a feeling of agility and an appealing thrum to the three-cylinder engine.

Those elements have been retained, while joining them are the benefits of the stiffer bodyshell. There’s more precision and less kickback through the steering and the manual gearshift is much more positive (the five-speed auto wants patience). Control weights are all light and easy.

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Our drive was restricted to a test track, and while the surfaces weren’t perfect – far from it, in fact – I wouldn’t yet want to make a definitive assessment of ride quality. But it feels relatively pliant, with modest grip levels and enough lean to pick-up a rear wheel in cornering. The handling is crisper and, while the Aygo is not an enthusiast’s car, there’s fun to be had driving any car this small and agile and whose three-pot motor is so easy to warm to.

Elsewhere, the Aygo is as you were. The boot's opening is slightly larger than before and the load space itself grows from 139 litres to 168 litres. It’s still quite diddy, though, as is the turning circle, and as is accommodation in the back; adults will only want to countenance short journeys in the rear. Access to the rear is fine, but we’ve only tried a five-door. A three-door goes on sale as the same time as the 5dr.

Should I buy one?

Sure. Our nod might still be towards a Fiat Panda or a Volkswagen Up (or its sister models), but there’s much to like about the Aygo. The littlest Toyota has sold comparatively well in the UK despite it, typically, being slightly more expensive than its PSA alternatives. 

People tend to like Toyota dealers, and as this is the only budget Toyota you can get, a lot of buyers get steered towards it. Last year, in fact, was the Aygo’s record sales year in the UK, which isn’t shabby for a nine-year-old car. 

Having received a healthy dose of interestingness and objective improvement, this one deserves to do even better.

Toyota Aygo 1.0 VVT-i

Price na; 0-62mph 14.2sec; Top speed 100mph; Economy 68.9mpg; CO2 95g/km; Kerb weight 840kg; Engine 3-cyls in line, 998cc, petrol; Power 69bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 70lb ft at 4300rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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Add a comment…
MaxTorque 25 March 2014

What were they thinking of?

Sorry but that X-face treatment looks gaudy and tasteless. A classic case of trying too hard to stand out from the competition and ending up with a lemon of a design. The previous generation looked far better.
All things considered, I would go for the VW Up or the Hyundai i10 instead.
autoxi 21 March 2014

Missed chance

There are negligible mechanical improvements in engine or gearbox as compared to the old ones 9 years ago. It misses the chance to beat VW up. I wish it could at lease put a CVT rather than automatic manual gearbox for an easy city driving.
Pete-Suffolk 18 March 2014

I think not!

That is just hideous. I cannot imagine anyone agreeing to be seen in one of those. Such a shame, the previous model was rather neat, understated and clever. This is yet another example of replacement models being uglier than their predecessor, part of this curious rush to be 'distinctive' even if that means pig ugly!