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First Drive: Toyota Aygo

Do updates to the best-selling Toyota Aygo keep it at the head of the pack? Jonathan Musk finds out…

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SECTOR City Car   PRICE £9,695-£13,675   FUEL 68.9mpg   CO2 93g/km

For a small car, the Toyota Aygo has a big impact. With 22,264 units last year in the UK – up 8.9% year-on-year – it’s currently the most popular car in its segment with a 15.2% share. It’s also no stranger to fleets, which take 38% of sales.

All this is expected to continue for the latest model, which brings a new and more upmarket look plus several new trim options and, thanks to Toyota’s engine fettling, the new 1.0-litre unit benefits from a CO2 emissions reduction of 5g/km over its predecessor, to 93g/km, while fuel consumption is up despite the Euro 6.2-compliant engine getting a couple more bhp.

Visually, the new car – which goes on sale on 1 July – has been redesigned to look more upmarket with a less aggressive frontal X-signature design more in-keeping with Toyota’s other products. Being a mid-life facelift, don’t expect radical change, but rather useful updates and plenty of customisation options.

The UK model range will offer X, X-Play, X-Plore, X-Cite, X-Clusiv and limited edition X-Press trims, with middle-range X-Press and X-Plore the expected best sellers and all are five-door body style.

X-Press features external decals and 15-inch alloys plus front fog lights, automatic headlights, air conditioning and a reverse camera. Navigation or connectivity can be added, along with Toyota Safety Sense that provides pre-collision system and lane departure alert.

The X-Touch multimedia system provides a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, but if you want Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility plus voice control, ‘Smartphone Integration Powered by Pioneer’ is a must-have option for X-Press, and fitted as standard to X-Cite and X-Clusiv.

Customers can choose from a multitude of design customisations, and two new colours: Blue Burst on the X-Clusiv grade and Magenta Fizz on the X-Cite grade.

Pricing is a slight sticking point, with the entry ‘X’ grade new Aygo starting from £9,695 compared to £8,995 for the outgoing model. Of course, all models benefit from Toyota’s five-year/100,000-mile warranty.

As with all cars in its class, boot space takes a backseat, with space enough for two overhead cabin suitcases but not much more. Neat details are to be found in the cabin, however, including a feather-weight parcel cover to hide belongings and seatbelt holding slots in the C-pillars that keep them out the way when folding the rear seats.

Driving is predictable and precise, with well-chosen gear ratios offering effective cruising at any legal speed. However, getting up to motorway pace isn’t what you’d call swift, taking a full 13.8 seconds (15.2 seconds for the auto). This proves plenty quick enough, though, and compares well to larger cars like the Nissan Micra 1.0-litre. Crucially, it also drives better and makes a more convincing companion across a varied mix of city and country driving. This is, however, much like its predecessor with little discernible difference.

Suspension has been improved to offer a more cosseting ride, while the 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine has had a modest power increase to 71bhp. Combined with a five-speed manual, it makes for fun yet frugal driving accompanied by a pleasing exhaust note. And, CO2 is said to be best in class at 93g/km, rising to 95g/km for the automatic version.

What we think

Toyota has made sensible updates to an already popular car. Whether its multitude of trim options and colour combinations will add appeal remains to be seen, but the on-board tech, improvements in refinement and efficiency mean there’s really no reason why the new Aygo won’t continue its sales success.

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.