BRIAN BASSETT nips around town in the new Toyota Aygo
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.
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.
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.
Weighing only 855 kg, the Toyota Aygo is a fun drive in the city.