July 1 The MGMPR Motor Review

The Toyota Aygo x-pression 1.0-litre five door manual has class, style and is fun

By Stephen Grant – Motoring Journalist

With its compact dimensions, wallet-friendly running costs and cheeky looks, the original Aygo, launched in 2005, was a big hit for Toyota.

Designed specifically for Europe in a bid to attract young, city-dwellers, it’s no surprise that the Japanese brand hasn’t tinkered too much with that winning formula, after all, it sold more than 760,000 across Europe.

Instead, it wants us to ‘go fun’ ourselves in this second generation with its brazen new look and oodles of new tech.

As with the original model, this second generation city car is a joint development with Peugeot and Citroen, with the 108 and C1 sharing the same lightweight platform and mechanicals. But a big draw compared to some of its rivals is the striking design and the level of personal customisation you get with the Aygo.

The Japanese hatch is emblazoned with a distinctive ‘X’ running from the A-pillars to the front grille -just one of a number of parts that can be swapped around in a variety of colours. It was certainly a talking point in the office. I thought it reminded me of Star Wars’ bounty hunter BobaFett, others thought a Power Ranger. ‘Angry robot face’ was favourite.It’s no surprise then that the new Aygo’s design theme was dubbed ‘J-Playful’ marking the link between the strong and outspoken shapes and forms central to Japanese youth culture.

Toyota says all the car’s styling and engineering decisions were made with fun in mind. David Terai, chief engineer, explained: “Traditionally, the appeal of A-segment cars has come from their practicality, their compact size and their price tag. But, all too often, they lack desirability. The elements that make you truly want a car are compromised. Design is treated as secondary, and there aren’t many equipment features to choose from.

“There seems to be an implicit agreement among vehicle planners, stylists and engineers that drivers of small cars don’t spend much time behind the wheel anyway, so they won’t mind having to compromise. I can’t believe this is true. I am convinced these drivers, just like any other, want a car they can be proud of, and I took it as my task to create just such a car.”

Now, that ‘angry robot face’ certainly forces people to take sides – it won’t appeal to everyone. Terai maintains that was exactly his intention.

“If you aim for an emotional link between customer and design, you have to accept that people’s tastes differ. In a crowded marketplace it is better to have a design that half the people absolutely love, rather than one that nobody objects to,” he said.

Interior space is marginally improved, and a new seven-inch, full colour touchscreen smartphone-optimised infotainment system is state-of-the-art.

Buyers can change the colour of more than 10 parts including the ‘X’, wheels and rear bumper, as well as a selection of snap-in interior parts – a tactic designed to attract a young, trendy crowd of buyers, as Vauxhall has been attempting with the Adam.

It has the same wheelbase as before though its overall length has increased by 25mm. Not a lot, I grant you. The length of the passenger compartment has been increased by a miniscule 9mm and front headroom has been increased by 7mm despite the car’s overall height being 5mm lower. It’s front and rear tracks have also been widened by 8mm to improve its stance. In the front, it certainly feels roomy and there is lots of headroom, even for a six-footer like me. Though it’s supposed to be a full four-seater, I’d feel sorry for any adults stuck in the back.

In the boot, luggage capacity has grown by 29 litres to 168 litres.

Numerous improvements to the sound-deadening have made the interior more refined at speed.

“We heard from Aygo drivers that they like the sporty engine note but they sometimes felt the car was too noisy,” said Terai. “So we focused on damping the engine and road noise, but at the same time keeping the characteristic engine sound and even tuning it slightly,”

And Toyota succeeded. The Aygo is surprisingly quiet at motorway cruising speed but, under acceleration, there’s a lovely throaty, rasping bark. It’s also fun to drive, agile with plenty of grip and nimble handling.

Given the difference in fuel price and the relative expense of electric alternatives, it’s no surprise that city car drivers are proving more loyal to the petrol engine than any other group of motorists. Some 90 per cent of drivers in this sector choose it in preference to a diesel. The Aygo still uses the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine of its predecessor, though fuel efficiency and emissions have been improved.

Power has been marginally increased to 69bhp at 6,000rpm and torque has risen to 95Nm at 4,300rpm, with 85Nm available from as little as 2,000rpm.

For the record, the Aygo can accelerate from rest to 62mph in 14.2 seconds – quicker than similarly powered rivals – and go on to a top speed of 99mph.

Average fuel consumption is improved officially to 68.9mpg – though in just over 300 miles I returned 46mpg. CO2 emissions have been reduced by 4g/km to a tax-friendly 95g/km. Equipped with automatic transmission – an extra £700 – the latest Aygo delivers 67.3mpg and emissions of 97g/km, a marked improvement on the old model.

Prices start at £8,695 and both the 3 and 5-door Aygo comes in three trim levels – x, x-play and x-pression. The 5-door x-pression can be specified with x-wave, an electric retracting canvas roof. There are also three special editions – x-cite, x-clusiv and x-pure.

All models are equipped with front and passenger airbags, ABS and electric brake distribution, tyre pressure monitor, vehicle stability control, hill start assist LED daytime running lights, electric front windows and two ISOFIX child seats mounts. However the tempting x-pression I was driving adds numerous other luxuries including alloys, DAB radio, and the aforementioned infotainment system.

Go on, go fun yourself.

AT A GLANCE

Toyota Aygo x-pression 1.0-litre 5dr manual

PRICE: £11,395

POWER: 69bhp

MAX SPEED: 99mph

0-62mph: 14.2 seconds

FUEL ECONOMY: 68.9mpg

CO2: 95g/km

 

NOTES TO EDITOR:

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