Toyota's second generation Aygo offers an extra bit of spice for city-dwellers. June Neary tries it.
Will It Suit Me?
Just how much do you really need to spend on a car? Around £9,000 sounds about right to me - the starting price for the second generation version of Toyota's citycar, the Aygo. Pronounce it 'Eye-Go', the Toyota man told me, but I still kept calling it 'A-go' during my time with the car. Whatever it's called, it's a clever little thing and surprisingly stylish for the money. Women like me have contributed massively to Toyota's bottom line in recent years by purchasing chic little Yaris superminis by the bucketload and this car is cut from the same kind of cloth. My colleagues told me that it was Toyota's version of the same design which has spawned Citroen's C1 and Peugeot's 108 but having seen those two cars, I think the Toyota, though a tad more expensive, is a more attractive bet than either. If you want to spend more, there's also the Toyota iQ to consider, a trendier take on the city car theme, but the Aygo looks plenty trendy enough for me.
I liked the fact that the front and rear overhangs have been kept short so as to maximise interior space and make parking simple. The tale of the tape shows that this MK2 version is 25mm longer than its predecessor but it's still a tiny little thing. Inside, there's a trapezoidal-shaped centre console, with this design theme reflected in details such as the air vents, door trims and gear shift surround. The console supports a wide dashboard with a matt, anti-glare finish, set between slim A-pillars. The new instrumentation features a meter made of up concentric rings which are permanently lit. It incorporates an easy-to-read central multi-information display. The wheelbase is unchanged at 2,340mm, but the cabin is longer by 9mm and there's an extra 29-litres of luggage space available. It's not a large interior of course: you wouldn't expect a citycar to offer that - but there are five wide-opening doors and the kids I transported seemed quite happy in the rear. I also managed a full Tesco shop in the compact boot.
Behind the Wheel
The Aygo is a citycar first and foremost, reflected in a sprint to 60mph that takes around 14 seconds. The good news is the fact that the single 1.0-litre petrol engine that's on offer is predictably excellent in terms of fuel economy and emissions. The combined economy figure is 68.8mpg and emissions are pegged at a laudable 97g/km. These figures are helped by the fact that the 1.0-litre is billed as one of the world's lightest production engines. The five-speed manual transmission I tried is the default choice, but Toyota's x-shift semi-auto transmission is also available as an option, offering clutchless gear changing for those who want to take the drag out of city driving. Effort is further removed by the fitment of electrically assisted power steering, making light work of turning the Aygo about face on a sixpence. I liked the fact that the steering column is adjustable for both reach and rake. Coupled with plenty of driver's seat travel and ample headroom, it all meant that I had no problem getting comfortable behind the wheel of the Aygo. Sitting behind a tall driver is another issue altogether and rear space is a little pinched with the front seat at the back of its travel. That's perhaps forgivable, as there is only so much that can be done within the strictures of such a limited wheelbase.
Value For Money
Prices, as I said, start at around £9,000, but of course that's just the starting point if you want to individualise your car. Toyota makes much of the latest Aygo's scope for personalisation. This is one area where the last car dropped the ball. Buyers in this sector want to be able to quickly, cheaply and effectively differentiate their cars so they don't look like everybody else's. MINI was the first company to get on board this trend and Citroen quickly followed. Now the Japanese are playing catch-up, with Nissan's Juke offering clip-on interior panels that can be swapped at will. This Aygo follows this concept, with instrument panel, centre console, air vent, shift knob and gear lever surround sections that can easily be changed. Even the X-shaped front grille, rear bumper insert, front bumper and alloy wheels can all be specified to suit. To try to keep things easier for the customer and to offer better value, Toyota has also created a range of exterior and interior styling packs, rather than forcing people to select piece-by-piece customisation.
Could I Live With One?
This car makes the necessity of being urban-bound into less of a chore. You could use it for longer distances but you probably won't want to. It's more at home in the city. Sexy in the city in fact? You could say that if you want to.