City Slicker

BRIAN BAS­SETT nips around town in the new Toy­ota Aygo

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

OVER the years we have driven and reported on a wide va­ri­ety of ve­hi­cles in this col­umn, but never have we re­viewed a car in­spired by a Ja­panese car­toon.

Soon af­ter the new Aygo hit the mar­ket in 2015, hav­ing been around in an ear­lier form since 2005, David Terai, chief en­gi­neer of the Aygo, ad­mit­ted that as a boy he had loved the

As­tro Boy car­toon se­ries and wanted a de­sign for the car that was eas­ily iden­ti­fi­able and as ex­cit­ing as the car­toon. In this he ap­pears to have suc­ceeded. With its dis­tinc­tive “X” face and more rad­i­cal de­sign ap­proach than that of its pre­de­ces­sor, the new Aygo stands out in any carpark.

Our thanks to Deon Olivier, new car sales man­ager of Mc­Carthy Toy­ota Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, for al­low­ing us time with the car.

Styling

The exterior of the Aygo has a bold, an­gu­lar, youth­ful ap­proach to de­sign with sharp edges and eye-catch­ing an­gles. Be­sides the dis­tinc­tive X-styling graphic on the front of the car de­tailed in rich-look­ing pi­ano black, the LED head­lights sweep back­ward to a ris­ing win­dow line and tall tail lamps. The roof has what Toy­ota call a “Dou­ble Bub­ble” shape, which in­creases head­room and adds to ex­ter­nal in­ter­est. The ex­ter­nal de­sign is rounded off by 14-inch, steel wheeled rub­ber and elec­tri­cally-op­er­ated, colour-coded side mir­rors.

In all the car is re­fresh­ing and, with its range of funky colour com­bi­na­tions, en­joy­able to look at.

In­te­rior

The Aygo is a very com­pact A-seg­ment of­fer­ing and at first sight I won­dered if a gen­er­ous-bod­ied in­di­vid­ual like my­self would fit with any level of com­fort.

How­ever, the driver’s door opened wide enough to make ac­cess easy and the driver’s seat was not only com­fort­able and firm, but also eas­ily ad­justable to cre­ate a high-rid­ing driv­ing po­si­tion that I rather en­joyed.

The in­te­rior is well nailed to­gether and the over­all im­pres­sion is one of qual­ity and so­phis­ti­ca­tion. The typ­i­cal three-spoke tac­tile Toy­ota steer­ing wheel is en­joy­able to han­dle, while the cir­cu­lar speedome­ter and rev counter is mounted on the height-ad­justable steer­ing col­umn.

The Aygo is packed with tech­nol­ogy and a wide range of stan­dard kit.

The car sports cruise con­trol, a four-speaker DAB ra­dio, with Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity and easy smart phone pair­ing via the cen­tral­ly­placed, eas­ily op­er­ated and quite im­pres­sively large touch screen.

The car has both USB port and CD ca­pa­bil­ity, mak­ing it at­trac­tive to oldies like me. Be­low the touch screen on the cen­tral stack are the air-con­di­tion­ing con­trols and ac­cess to a plug for your elec­tronic toys and the gear lever is within easy reach. The seats are ro­bustly cov­ered in two-tone up­hol­stery and the front pas­sen­ger’s seat is par­tic­u­larly com­fort­able.

The Aygo’s prob­lem is, how­ever, legroom at the back. I hi­jacked a neigh­bour’s two teenage sons for a rough test of rear space and, while they fit­ted in with­out too much of a prob­lem, it was ob­vi­ous that a long jour­ney in the rear would not be com­fort­able for two adults with­out fre­quent stops to stretch their legs. The boot space is 168 litres, or easy stor­age for a week’s gro­cery shop­ping, or a few suit­cases. The rear seats do fold down in 50/50 fash­ion and you dou­ble your lug­gage space.

Safety and se­cu­rity

The Aygo’s 4-star NCap rat­ing puts it at the top of the city car class in terms of safety and its rat­ing for pas­sen­ger safety stands at 80%.

The car has four airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, sta­bil­ity con­trol, ABS with EBD, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor, Brake As­sist and rear fog lights, as well as seat­belts for four pas­sen­gers and a high-mounted stop lamp at the rear. Se­cu­rity is taken care of by a power, wire­less door lock, im­mo­biliser and alarm.

Per­for­mance and han­dling

The Aygo is fun to drive. It has a kerb weight of only 855 kg and its peppy, three-cylin­der, 51 kW/95 Nm, 998 cc petrol en­gine is re­spon­sive and ea­ger and when ac­cel­er­at­ing gives that de­light­ful “thrummy” sound that makes you feel you are driv­ing much more pow­er­ful car.

The light clutch makes the gearshifts easy and the five-speed gear­box per­forms well in town and on D-roads. The Aygo has a com­bi­na­tion of MacPher­son struts at the front and a tor­sion ar­range­ment at the rear, as well as some re­ally wellad­justed damp­ing, which al­lows the car to ab­sorb the bumps, ruts and pot­holes on D-roads.

How­ever, the Aygo is made for the city and it is best to stay on tar, un­less you are go­ing back home to the fam­ily farm for the week­end.

The Aygo of­fers ex­cel­lent ride com­fort and on fast flow­ing bends on Me­an­der roads the car of­fered sharp steer­ing and ex­cel­lent sta­bil­ity.

The sound­proof­ing is good and adds to the over­all ride qual­ity.

It also al­lows you to lis­ten to the lovely en­gine sound as you ac­cel­er­ate in sec­ond gear. In town the Aygo is at home. Park­ing, whether par­al­lel or in a shop­ping cen­tre, is a plea­sure.

The gear change warn­ing light en­cour­ages fru­gal driv­ing and you should get around 5 l/100 km, while the car will de­liver up to 160 km/h and 0-100 km/h in around 14 sec­onds should you need it. Cruis­ing on the N3 is no prob­lem, although long hills and over­tak­ing on long loads will re­quire a lit­tle plan­ning ahead.

Also, if you can­not keep the revs up you will have to use the gears.

Costs and the com­pe­ti­tion

The Aygo 1.0 litre comes in at around R156 000, while the X-Play vari­ant will set you back about R159 000.

The car comes with a three­year/100 000 km war­ranty and op­tional ser­vice plan. Re­mem­ber that this is a buyer’s mar­ket and spe­cial of­fers, com­pe­ti­tions and free ex­tras abound. So look at a se­lec­tion of A-seg­ment cars that ap­peal to you, be­fore pur­chas­ing.

PHOTO: QUICKPIC

Weigh­ing only 855 kg, the Toy­ota Aygo is a fun drive in the city.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.