Toyota Verso: road test
The Toyota Verso offers plenty of space and an improved driving experience.
What is it?
The Toyota Verso is an attractive, versatile mini MPV that holds its own in a very competitive sector. It offers no complications, either in driving or in making use of its extensive space.
How safe is it?
There are seven airbags included in all the Verso models, and it has achieved five stars in the EURO NCAP crash testing. There are also two ISOFIX child seat mounts.
Who should buy one?
Anyone who needs convenience, flexibility and economy in a car. There are 1,009 litres of usable space in the back, with all five rear seats folded.
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
We drove the 1.6-litre D-4D turbodiesel version, which delivered reasonable performance and excellent economy. The vehicle itself was given a makeover in 2013, however it’s only recently that the engines have been updated.
Clearly not designed to deliver noteworthy performance, the Verso proved energetic and spry – certainly more than adequate in the different driving environments we encountered. There are two petrol variants (a 1.6-litre and a 1.8-litre), but unless you’re resolved to make only the shortest of journeys, then the much lower running costs of the diesel make it the logical choice for nearly every driver.
Our test week included a long day of driving, from Berkshire north to Manchester University, where we delivered eldest son to start his maths degree. The time behind the wheel was genuinely enjoyable. Sure, it doesn’t compete with the acknowledged market-leading Ford C-Max as a real driver’s car, but we found enough firmness of ride and sure-footedness around rural bends to deliver a decent measure of satisfaction.
Following drop-off in Manchester, the onward journey was to Brecon in mid Wales, with mile after mile of spectacular scenery and winding roads south from Welshpool. The Verso equipped itself well for the most part, but we did experience some issues from steering that sometimes felt imprecise, and even slow.
Some years ago we drove a Verso for a year as part of a long-term test. It’s fair to say that the current model is greatly improved, with an altogether more supple feel on the road and much less fatigue from a noisy engine. Bear in mind its larger rivals, though: the Ford C-Max, Citroën C4 Grand Picasso, Seat Alhambra and Vauxhall Zafira mean anyone on the look-out for a good seven-seater really is spoilt for choice. That said, we were genuinely impressed by this Verso.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
For a ‘mini-MPV’, the Verso is spacious and practical. Perhaps it’s not the largest in its class, but it’s likely to satisfy the needs of most families and their ever-changing cargo-carrying requirements. Better still, it’s simple to configure it exactly as you need it. We worked out the best way to transport an 18-year-old with all his clobber nearly 200 miles without feeling completely hemmed in.
OK, he did manage to draw the line at the kitchen sink but it felt as though there weren’t many of the 1,009 litres of rear space unused once he had loaded clothes, supplies, sports equipment, laptop and pictures (I asked him about Athena posters but he didn’t seem to know what I meant).
The Easy Flat folding system (with an impressive 32 different rear seat layout arrangements) did exactly what it suggested. Folding was easy and the seats did indeed fold flat. Keeping just the rear row of (strictly child-only) seats folded allows 440 litres of space.
The Verso includes driver and passenger front and side airbags, driver’s knee airbag, curtain airbags, two ISOFIX seat mounts, ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist. There is also vehicle stability control with steering assist, traction control and hill-start assist control.
A seatbelt warning buzzer alarm covers both front and rear seats. Its five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating was achieved in 2010.
The V-matic Active 1.6-litre petrol and D-4D Active diesel offer five seats, while all other versions include seven. These two entry-level models offer electric front windows, air-conditioning and hill-start assist. Icon trim brings 16-inch alloys, climate control, Bluetooth, rear electric windows, a rear-view camera, digital radio, leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear stick, as well as cruise control. The top trim version, Excel, includes keyless entry and automatic lights.
Prices for the Verso sit in the right place, compared with others in the segment. The entry-level petrol Active sells for £17,700, with the equivalent diesel costing £19,900. Mid-range Icon spec costs £20,300 for the 1.6-litre petrol and £21,800 for the 1.8.
Our 1.6-litre D-4D Trend model costs £22,995. As far as low running costs are concerned, the 1.6-litre diesel version is definitely the best bet. The range-topping 1.8-litre petrol V-matic Excel M Drive costs £23,800.
The Verso offers plenty of space and an improved driving experience.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62mph in 12.7 seconds
Economy: 62.8mpg combined
Tax: Band C (£0 first year)
Figures for the 1.5 TDCi 120 Zetec