Why so many drivers go for Aygo - Toyota's cute, characterful city car
Toyota's cute, characterful Aygo city car can still hold its own against newer rivals. Motoring editor Andy Russell finds out why with the latest updated range.
Toyota launched its little Aygo in 2005, a great success story wooing new customers to the brand and it’s still one of Europe’s best-selling city cars.
I’m a great believer in the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ philosophy and with, regular updates over the years, it’s stayed true to its cute, characterful design, retaining that X-factor face and a wealth of customising potential, and now Toyota has refreshed the Aygo’s appeal again.
Looks and image
The Aygo, one third of a trio with the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108, has always stood out with its distinctive ‘X’ front-end design, now more powerful and three-dimensional look to go with new front and rear lamp clusters with LED signature lights, dedicated wheel designs for each model grade targeting different customers and new metallic body colours.
Inside, the instrument binnacle has been modernised along with upgraded colours and trims including side air vents picking up the body colour and more customisation options.
It’s tweaking, rather than tinkering, but the Aygo still puts a smile on your face.
Under the bonnet
The three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engine’s power rises slightly to 71bhp and it’s more frugal with lower CO2 emissions for best-in-class efficiency and improved response.
It’s gutsy enough low down to go with the flow in urban driving and nippy but, once out on the open road, the small capacity motor runs out of puff at higher revs, so overtaking needs careful planning. Once up to speed it will cruise along at 70mph at around 3,000rpm so is not noisy nor strained but you can’t miss the road noise despite extra sound-deadening measures. Even with some fast cruising, it still returned 55 to 60mpg.
A light-shifting five-speed manual gearbox is standard with x-shift automated manual transmission, with fully automatic and manual shift modes via the lever or steering wheel-mounted paddles, a £700 option on all but entry-level ‘x’ model.
How it drives
Suspension has been tweaked to improve comfort, what you’d expect from a city car in a world of roadwork-scarred surfaces, speed bumps and drain covers, and it rides pretty well for a small car.
It’s in its element in the cut and thrust of urban traffic, able to dart through gaps that put the brakes on bigger cars, and squeezing into tight parking spaces helped by light, effortless steering which has been retuned for quicker response. Get it on to twisty country roads and it corners competently, not feeling too roly-poly, but push really hard and understeer builds up as the skinny tyres struggle to keep the front end on track.
Space and comfort
No complaints about space up front and, with a bit of give and take on legroom, you could squeeze four average adults in for short trips. All but the entry model are only available in five-door form, with pop-out rear side windows, so getting into the back is not an issue.
The 168-litre boot is wide and deep but doesn’t go back far yet it will take half a dozen bags of shopping or a couple of aircraft cabin cases. Rear seat backs split 50/50 but don’t lay completely flat and stand proud of the boot floor and the painted metal backs will be prone to scratching if not protected.
At the wheel
The instrument cluster also has a more three-dimensional design but retains its simple large speedo, with inset trip computer, and a vertical bar rev counter. The steering wheel adjusts only for height but the instruments move with it so you can always see them.
A central touchscreen controls most functions – thankfully heating and ventilation retain simple, separate controls - and is easy to use on the move and the £200 Apply CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration is well worth pursuing and adds to the funky, youthful feel.
The interior is awash with hard plastics, they fit well and are easy to clean but one trim panel was already scratched.
The Toyota Aygo city car is an equally capable rural runabout where its diminutive dimensions come into their own on tight country lanes. It’s as fun to drive as it is to look at.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Toyota Aygo x-press £12,630 (range £9,695 to £14,595)
Engine: 998cc, 71bhp, three-cylinder petrol with five-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 13.8 seconds; top speed 99mph
MPG: Urban 57.7; extra urban 78.5; combined 68.9
CO2 emissions: 93g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 19pc
Insurance group: 8A (out of 50)
Warranty: Five years or 100,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 3,455mm; W (excluding door mirrors) 1,615mm; H 1,460mm