AOL Cars gets behind the wheel of the new Toyota Verso for the first time on British roads.
What is it?
This is Toyota's offering in the ultra-competitive C-segment MPV market. Think it looks slightly familiar? Well, that's because it is. This Verso is a face-lifted version of the old model with a new more aggressive face and a better quality interior.
What's under the bonnet?
Versos come with a choice of two petrols and a diesel. Heading up the petrol range is a 130bhp 1.6 and a 145bhp 1.8 while the only diesel is a reworked 2.0-litre giving 125bhp. Bearing in mind the type of life this kind of car has to live, it seems strange to us that there are two petrols in the range. The diesel is the obvious choice for the Verso, and our test car impressed us with a healthy 310Nm of torque and more than satisfactory refinement levels. The 0-60 sprint takes a whisker over 11 seconds; top whack is 115mph; combined MPG is 53.3 while CO2 emissions are an agreeable 129. Over the outgoing Verso, the 2.0-litre diesel benefits from a four MPG improvement and a 10 g/km slash in CO2 emissions – and it'll be the best-selling engine as it makes the most sense for this type of car.
The range kicks off at £17,500 for the five-seat Verso Active 1.6 which comes with air conditioning, electric front windows, hill-start assist and a handy USB socket. If you want seven seats (and we'd recommend you'd go for this option for a better re-sale value) you'll need to look at the rest of the range, with prices starting at £18,000 for the entry-level Active 1.6. The mid-range Icon trim level kicks in at £19,950 and adds Bluetooth, a rear-view camera, dual-zone climate and electric rear windows, while top spec Excel models, from £23,450, boast half leather, keyless entry and start and roof rails. Our Excel 2.0 D4D seven seat manual Touch and Go version came to £24,590 with extras such as metallic paint at £495, Touch and Go sat-nav multimedia kit at £650 and a £550 panoramic roof.
Take your pick. Along with the models that have been around for a while – Renault Scenic, Ford C-Max and the like – there's also the brand new Citroen C4 Picasso and the new Kia Carens, both of which are impressive in their own rights. Even against more modern machinery, the Toyota will still appeal to certain buyers for its strong build and clever seven-seat system (the two rear seats fold neatly into the boot floor).
What's it like to drive?
It's perfectly agreeable. The 2.0-litre diesel is punchy and is the ideal companion to the slick six-speed gearbox and light steering. All-round visibility is good and, overall, the general impression you get from the driving the Verso is that it's comfortable. It's pleasant but delivers very little else – either bad or good.
The AOL Cars verdict
There's no doubt the new design at the front has given the Verso a stronger footing in this market. Couple this with excellent build quality, a well-laid out dashboard (unlike the Toyota Prius+) and a strong engine, the Verso is a likeable workhorse. For us, we like a little bit more than a strong work ethic and would be tempted by the style of the new Citroen C4 Picasso, for instance. But for most buyers who want a no-frills MPV, the Verso will suit them just fine.
Model: Toyota Verso Excel 2.0 D4D 7 seat Man T&G
Price: £24,590 (as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre, four cylinder, turbocharged diesel
Power: 124bhp, 310NM
Max speed: 115mph
0-60mph: 11.1 seconds
MPG: 53.3mpg combined