Eric Gallina’s review of the new Toyota Aygo X-Cite reveals a car with a weedy engine, but one that has great technology and plenty of options for customisation.
It is hard to believe the first generation Toyota Aygo went on sale nine years ago. Though it underwent a few facelifts over that period, the car never deviated from its core mission: to provide reliable transportation to customers looking to get from one place to the next.
Working in collaboration with PSA Peugeot-Citroen, the Aygo was created as a tool – a functional vehicle for which design was of low priority.
Times, however, have changed. When the Aygo initially went on sale there were only nine competitors in the segment. Now there are 20. In order to appeal to customers in this crowded and competitive segment, Toyota designers went back to the drawing board and emerged with an altogether different, more functional and more flamboyant proposal.
So is the 2014 Aygo any good? We took to the road to find out.
The second-generation Aygo’s design is a stark contrast to the outgoing model. The new car’s exterior design is far more outgoing – shouty, even. With a pronounced ‘X’ graphic adorning its face, the compact car makes a bolder statement than its Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 platform siblings. The car’s profile features a pronounced rising beltline to lend some forward lunging agility, while the rear end’s tall upright tail lamps are pushed out far to the corners, enhancing the width.
The cabin is roomier than one would expect of a car in this size and class, while the seats are comfortable and can be adjusted to suit any frame. The single round gauge ahead of the steering wheel features a simple speedometer around a digital readout for auxiliary information and a rev counter on the left. All pretty straightforward stuff.
The centrally mounted 7-inch screen, dubbed X-touch, is fully integrated into the instrument panel and includes intuitive graphics with playful colour-coded surrounds. The main menu is a simple five-icon arrangement that’s easy to navigate.
The Aygo isn’t a very big car, but it doesn’t feel quite as compact inside as its exterior dimensions would suggest. The front seat accommodations are spacious and well suited for two, but the rear is a bit cramped, particularly in legroom terms.
With four doors and a hatch the Aygo remains a practical city car. There are a few storage spaces about and, unlike its predecessor, a glove box to keep valuables out of sight. What’s more, the redesign has also afforded an additional 29 litres of cargo capacity in the boot. At 168 litres you won’t be getting in a new mattress from IKEA, but it can hold a few bags from the weekly food shopping run. What’s curious, however, is that the Aygo’s boot is over 30 litres smaller than the C1 and 108.
Performance and Handling
A 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine (the UK won’t get the 1.2-litre unit found in the C1 or 108) in the Aygo generates 69bhp and 95Nm of torque. Max speed is a shade under 100mph and it will get to 62mph in 14.2 seconds with the five-speed ‘box. While these aren’t performance car figures by any stretch of the imagination, the Aygo’s trumps the 1.0-litre Volkswagen Up in all respects.
As befitting a compact vehicle, the Aygo is the perfect urban runabout. Its compact turning circle, extremely light clutch and steering and compliant suspension makes it very easy to drive around town. But it’s out on the motorways where the Aygo really surprises us. The 1.0-litre engine proves adequate, while the ride remains comfortable and noise levels tolerable at speed. Toyota’s really upped the Aygo’s refinement levels.
Positives aside, we can’t help but think the extra displacement afforded by the 1.2-litre engine would be useful for climbing some of the gradients on this side of the channel.
Economy and Environment
Given that Toyota will cease manufacturing the ultra-compact iQ, the Aygo effectively becomes the smallest car in the range, and the most economical.
Whilst driving it over an array of roads in the (noticeably flat) Netherlands, we saw a combined fuel economy figure of 69mpg – which is on par with the VW Up – whilst driving the 5-speed manual. With the optional automatic the figure dips to 67.3.mpg. Still, with just 95g/km of CO2 (97g with the A/T) the Aygo remains an extremely frugal fuel sipper, placing it in VED band A.
Equipment and Value
Offered in three standard trim levels (X, X-Play and X-Pression) as well as two special edition models (X-Cite and X-Clusiv), the Aygo comes well equipped. It has a number of standard comfort and convenience features such as power windows and door mirrors, a tilt adjustable steering column and steering wheel controls for the audio system and phone.
The X-Touch multimedia system with DAB, Mirrorlink for smartphones and a rear view camera is standard on the top three models and air-conditioning is standard on all but the entry-level X model. Sat-nav is an optional extra on all but the X as well.
Where the Aygo’s design really comes alive is through a seemingly endless range of personalisation options available. Customers can opt for either a silver or black colour for the X pattern at the front, four different wheel options and a number of decals to accentuate the front spoiler, rear spoiler and side sills. These are made available through two exterior customisation packs on the X-Play and X-Pression models, but can also be individually fitted by the dealer.
Like the exterior, the interior of the X-Play and X-Pression models can also be fine-tuned with customisation packs. The INspire pack adds body coloured air vents and gear shift surround while the INtense adds a body coloured instrument panel, centre console and gear shift surround.
Top of the range models can even be specified with leather seating for the first time, reflecting the more upmarket customer demands, and most of the Aygo models also ride on 15-inch alloy wheels. The X-Play model has steel wheels and the base X model makes do with steel 14-inchers.
Prices for the Aygo range from £8,595 through to £11,295, which seems to be good value compared with its rivals. Toyota claims resale value on the Aygo is better than that of the C1 and 108, with the Japanese model retaining 41.7 per cent residual value compared to 40 per cent from the French twins.
The Aygo offers an array of safety features, including dual front and side airbags for both front passengers and curtain airbags extending toward the rear. The car also comes fitted with anti-lock braking with electronic brake distribution and stability control, lest you encounter some strong crosswinds. There’s even a tyre pressure warning system.
The Aygo and its PSA twins have yet to be tested in the Euro NCAP, but we expect a significant improvement over the outgoing model’s sub-par three-star rating.
Toyota has successfully created an expressive and emotional design with the new Aygo, and one that will undoubtedly attract the more extroverted buyer. The fact Toyota has been consistently ranked at the top of customer satisfaction surveys with regard to reliability also makes the Aygo a strong contender for those looking to make a rational purchase.
While the company says its average customer is currently in their high 50s, the numerous personalisation options and technological aspects of the new Mirrorlink entertainment system and smartphone connectivity features are certain to attract the younger, technologically-savvy buyer as well. We just wish Toyota had seen fit to make a 1.2-litre version.