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Toyota Aygo hatchback (2005 – 2014) expert review

By Andy Pringle, 1st May 2014

The verdict

The Toyota Aygo combines cute looks with an enjoyable, economical engine to create a good little city car that’s fun to drive.

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Expert rating:

3.3

Pros

  • Cute styling
  • Low running costs
  • Enjoyable to drive

Cons

  • Limited trim range
  • Low levels of equipment
  • Poor luggage capacity

Full Review

1. Exterior

From its puppy-dog headlamps through to the comically-short rear doors on the five-door models, the Toyota Aygo oozes charm from every angle. Inevitably, it looks like its sister cars, the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 107, but there’s enough difference between the three to tell them apart. Every Aygo has body-coloured bumpers, but you need something more than the basic Active models to add colour-keyed door handles and mirrors. At the top of the range, Mode and Move with Style models also have LED daytime running lights and tinted rear glass, while you can further personalise your car with options such as roof decals, and two-tone or metallic paint.
Our rating: 4

2. Interior

Climb inside and you’ll quickly see that the Aygo reflects its budget-car roots with a relatively stripped-out cabin. The heating and ventilation controls, in particular, look like children’s plastic toys, and some people may well not like them. However, many important things are right: the driving position, for example, is good, despite the fact that the steering wheel adjusts only for height and the driver’s seat has no height adjustment.
Our rating: 3

3. Practicality

Despite the car’s small size, there’s a surprising amount of space in the front seats, where a couple of adults will be perfectly comfortable. However, it’s not the same story in the back: adults won’t want to squeeze themselves in for anything other than short journeys, even if those in the front seats sacrifice a little space. The boot is also a disappointment, even by the standards of this class: not only is it small, it’s awkward to access through the glass tailgate and over a high lip. Basic Active models don’t get the 50/50 split rear seats that are standard across the rest of the range, either.
Our rating: 3

4. Ride and handling

The Aygo is a fine city car, thanks to its small size and well-weighted (ie light) controls. It’s also surprisingly good fun to drive, with sharp steering and agile handling through the bends. The trouble is that agility comes at the expense of ride comfort and the Aygo feels too many bumps too obviously, particularly on the type of urban roads that will be its main stamping ground.
Our rating: 3

5. Performance

The Aygo comes with only one engine, a three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol unit that gives properly nippy performance around town. It zips from junction to junction and, despite needing to work it quite hard – a result of the gearbox’s widely spaced ratios and the fact that the engine only develops its peak torque at quite high revs – many people will think that’s all part of the fun. Out of town, it’s less enjoyable, though, as the constant need to for high revs exposes just how noisy and unrefined the engine is. Long journeys at the motorway speed limit are not a pleasant experience.
Our rating: 3

6. Running costs

The Aygo is a cheap little car, but the influx of new models in this area of the market means that it’s not massively cheaper than some very talented cars. However, it should be very cheap to run, with all manual-gearbox cars averaging more than 65mpg and having CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km, which equates to zero vehicle excise duty. It should be pretty cheap to insure, too, as it sits in low (if not quite the lowest) insurance groups.
Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

Toyota has a good reputation for reliability and this – the company’s smallest and cheapest new car – does nothing to change that. Figures from Warranty Direct say that it is very reliable, while owner reviews on our website echo that conclusion.
Our rating: 4

8. Safety

The Toyota Aygo originally scored four stars from Euro NCAP, but in line with the newer, more stringent tests, the organisation has downgraded the car’s score to just three, saying that Toyota has failed to keep abreast of latest safety developments and standards. Front, side and curtain airbags are standard on all trim levels, as is electronic brakeforce distribution and vehicle stability control.
Our rating: 3

9. Equipment

Low-budget motoring means drivers have a limited amount of standard kit, especially on the cheapest models in the range (Active), which have steel wheels, black mirrors and black door handles. Go for the Active Plus and it’s a smarter-looking car, with more body-coloured trim, as well as having remote central locking, air-conditioning and a better stereo, but you need to buy the Mode to get alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and front foglights, plus leather trim on the steering wheel and gear lever. Move adds sat-nav, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity.
Our rating: 3

10. Why buy?

Combine the fun handling, fizzy engine and puppy-dog looks with Toyota’s impeccable reliability, and the Aygo makes a very decent city car.
Our rating: 3

Expert review 3.3stars

  • Exterior4
  • Interior3
  • Practicality3
  • Ride and handling3
  • Performance3
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability4
  • Safety3
  • Equipment3
  • Why buy?3

Our recommendations

Pick of the range
Aygo 1.0 VVT-i Active Plus 3dr
Worth the extra over the base model for its smarter looks
Most economical
Aygo 1.0 VVT-i with manual gearbox
An average of more than 65mpg and CO2 emissions of less than 100g/km
Best avoided
Aygo 1.0 VVT-i Move with Style auto
A pointless expense when you can get all that’s good about the Aygo for much less

From its puppy-dog headlamps through to its comically short rear doors, the Toyota Aygo oozes charm from every angle.