It maybe tiny, but it’s got a lot of heart!
By Shahzad Sheikh
This is the 2019 Toyota Aygo in X-trend spec which is actually new for this year. It gets the 15-inch machined alloys and the red accents on the sills, bumper and mirrors, which are cool. Even cooler is the optional canvas full length power roof – in the summer it’s like driving a baby four-seater convertible!
We Asians like little cars there’s something in our DNA that heeds the lure of a compact car – and right now this little Agyo is definitely tugging my genes in its own adorable way.
A curio of a vehicle, it’s the result of a three-way collaboration between unlikely partners: Toyota, Citroen and Peugeot, with the later French car makers having their own versions of this city car since 2005. The second generation was introduced in 2014 and they updated again last year. It’s more distinct from its French cousins now with a rather cross face, apparently inspired by popular Japanese Mango cartoon character – Astro Boy.
The Toyota also gets its own engine too – a 1.0 litre three cylinder putting out just 71bhp and 93NM – 69lb ft of torque. Doesn’t sound like much and on paper it will accelerate from 0-62mph in 13.8 seconds for this 5-speed manual and 15.2 for the X-Shift – its automated manual as they call it. Top speed is 99mph.
Don’t let those lowly figures put you off as it’s a different story from behind the wheel. We’ll come to that, but remember the whole car only weights about 900kg. The great thing is it doesn’t seem to want to use any fuel. Toyota claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 56mpg and I was getting exactly that. Emissions are just 93g/km or 95g/km for the auto – class-leading says Toyota.
Distinctive and cute, I like how it looks, but do I like how I fit? Well in the front it’s no problem whatsoever with little or no compromise despite my long legs. The seating position is actually very comfortable.
The rear seats are a different story however. You need to think very carefully if you plan to regularly carry passengers in the back. For a tall person, trying to even get into the rear is an act of contortion worthy of a world-class circus performer. Once my scale of person is in, it’s like the legs are in a vice, the upper torso is Quasimodoed and purpose is unique form of torture. Drive five minutes and I’ll confess to everything. As for the rear windows, they don’t wind down – they hinge open, a bit, like in old cars.
The boot is said to have a 168-litre capacity and it’ll probably accommodate your weekly shopping. But even with a couple of small kids (it does have ISOFIX child seat anchors in the back) – think about where you’ll put all the pushchairs and pampers before you do the deal. You can fold the seats for more room though.
Back in the front I quickly forget about the rear chamber – at the wheel it’s modern, stylish and clean. Visibility all around is excellent. Instrumentation is clear and obvious. And it’s surprisingly well equipped. It has AC, Android Auto and Apple Car play, a decent stereo with DAB, speed limiter, voice control, auto lights, heated door mirrors, reversing camera on this one, plus ABS, stability control and even hill-start assist and tyre pressure warning. You can also option lane keep assist and collision alert. This is not a basic machine
And thankfully, wonderfully, delightfully, nor is it a dullard to drive. The peppy little 3-cylinder engine sounds roarty, feels lively, gives its all. Sure it’ll struggle to move off in second, but work those gears because that sweet manual shifter has a crisp change quality and a light clutch.
Feeling quick doesn’t stem from the trick of using short gear ratios, in fact the gearing is pretty tall, so you can hang onto gears, especially third, and almost forget to change up – hence a reminder blips on the instrument panel. Yet around town the slow-on-paper performance is perfectly acceptable – it’s not quick, but it won’t exactly feel slow either.
On the go, it’s a light car and feels it, with great brakes and eager, nimble and even darty handling and not entirely deadened electric power steering, which is also well-weighted and not too light. The ride is very well judged, firm enough to be fun, supple enough to comfy and stable enough to suggest better levels of refinement and smoothness than you’d expect in a tiddler.
It’s a car that’s somehow found that fine-line balance between being a usable and reasonably sensible and practical (for a single person or young couple) city car, yet retain an enticingly entertaining experience behind the wheel.
And all of this from prices starting at £12,800 for manual and £13,500 for the auto, and add about £900 for the funroof. It represents such good value that if it wasn’t for the fact that I would regularly carry rear passengers, you might have found me at my local Toyota dealer choosing colour and spec right now!