Toyota AYGO Hatchback (2014 - ) MK 2 review
The Toyota Aygo (2014 - ) is a charming and stylish city car. It's not perfect, however
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The Aygo was developed alongside the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108, but the three cars look very different; and, arguably, the Aygo is the most distinctive of the lot, with its nose dominated by a cross-shaped design that incorporates the headlights and is accentuated by the angled daytime running lights. There’s considerable difference between the various trim levels, but you’ll need to go for at least x-pression to get standard alloy wheels. At the bottom of the range, x-trimmed models look pretty plain (and can’t be specified with any of the optional – and affordable – customisation packs), but depending on which trim you choose and which boxes you tick on the options list, your Aygo can come with colour-coded door mirrors and handles, metallic paint, aluminium scuff plates or roof decals. The list goes on, with the result that it’s quite possible to create a unique Aygo; and, several of the pieces can be changed even after several years of ownership. You can also spec the car with the x-wave roof, which comprises of a concertinaing fabric which acts like a cross between an extremely large sunroof and a proper drop-top
Compared to some other, more staid city cars, the Aygo’s interior is something of a breath of fresh air. The dash is dominated by a large speedometer, and from x-pression upwards, it comes with a touch-screen system that can be paired with a compatible smartphone and (through the Mirror Link function) operate some of the phone’s apps. Sadly, the quality of many of the materials lags behind what you’ll find in a Volkswagen Up, and because the steering wheel adjusts only for height (not reach), it’s possible that not everyone will be able to get comfortable behind the wheel. To make matters worse, basic x-trimmed models don’t have the height-adjustable driver’s seat that’s standard across the rest of the range.
The Aygo may look like a small car, but there’s a surprising amount of head- and legroom in the front seats. A couple of six-foot tall adults will fit, but due to the awkward driving position, the one behind the wheel may not be able to get entirely comfortable. If you've got tall adults in the front seats, then this very much compromise, space for passengers in the rear. Beyond that, the small rear windows make it feel quite claustrophobic for rear seat passengers, The boot, too, is smaller than you’ll find in either the i10 or the VW Group trio (the VW Up, Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo) and, to make matters worse, it’s further spoiled by a high lip that makes loading and unloading awkward.
Ride and handling
The Aygo’s small size, light steering and tight turning circle make it ideal for city life, but out of town it feels very different to rivals such as the VW Group trio and the Hyundai i10. Whereas they have a more grown-up and refined feel, the Aygo feels a little sharper and stiffer. To some that will come across as sporty, but for the most part, it’s just a little uncomfortable. Around town in particular, the ride feels rather stiff. To make matters worse, there isn’t the trade-off of a sporty drive. On the contrary, that light steering feels remote at higher speeds, and there’s more body roll than you might expect.
Unlike the Aygo’s sister cars, the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 - both of which are available with a more powerful 1.2-litre engine - the Toyota is only available with a 69bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol motor. It’s certainly willing and provides enough performance around town, but it feels a little out of its depth beyond the city limits, and especially on the motorway. The performance is further sapped by the long gearing, and the engine produces lots of noise at even fairly modest revs – and, sadly, you need a lot of revs a lot of the time, as the engine’s peak pull only comes at more than 4,000rpm. We haven’t tested the Aygo with the optional x-shift semi-automatic gearbox, but our experience of the transmission in the 108 has not been good, as it’s jerky and saps the engine’s performance even further. If you go for the x-wave convertible then, naturally with the roof open, you get more wind, road, engine noise and buffeting. With the roof up, you get no more road, wind or engine noise than you do in the hard top.
As you would only expect, prices for the Aygo are very much on a par with the C1 and 108’s, as well as with its direct rivals. Assuming this generation of Aygo follows its predecessor, it will have strong residual values – on a par with the Up’s – which will keep whole-life costs down, while there are no complaints about the car’s economy or emissions: average economy is the best part of 70mpg, and every model has sub-100g/km CO2 emissions, which'll mean cheap day-to-day running costs. If the car has an Achilles Heel, it’s insurance: when most of the VW Group city cars and the i10 sit in the lowest insurance groups, the Aygo’s groupings look painfully high – and that could be a problem for the kind of young buyers the car is targeting.
There is no reliability data on this generation of Aygo, but if it follows its predecessor’s performance – and we have no reason to expect it will do anything else – it will leave its owners nothing to fear. According to figures from Warranty Direct, the previous-generation of Aygo is one of the most reliable models on its books; and such findings are backed up by the experience of owners on our site. What’s more, the Aygo scores over its sister cars, in having a five-year warranty when the French cars only have three-year cover.
However, the good news is that every model in the range has the same standard safety kit – six airbags, anti-lock brakes with Emergency Braking Assistance, stability control and a tyre pressure-warning system. However, there’s no equivalent to the City Safety autonomous braking system that you can buy on the Up, Mii and Citigo. Nevertheless, in tests by Euro NCAP, the Aygo scored a very decent four stars our of a possible maximum of five.
There are three mainstream models, but it’s worth avoiding the basic x trim, which looks pretty Spartan, coming with few luxuries beyond electric front windows and remote central locking. Step up to x-play and you get a better stereo, smarter looks, Bluetooth, steering wheel-mounted controls, air-conditioning and a height-adjustable steering wheel. At the top of the range, x-pression adds part-leather sports-style front seats, DAB radio and the x-touch multimedia system with Mirror Link and a rear-view camera, as well as the option of adding the x-wave folding fabric roof.
There are several areas – notably practicality, quality and refinement – where the Aygo has to give second best to rivals such as the Up and i10. However, even so, it’s a very likeable car, with plenty of character; and, if you like its unique style, that could well be enough to tempt you to sign on the dotted line.