"Few small cars are as capable as the Toyota Aygo around town – or as competitively priced."
The Toyota Aygo is an iconic city car and was developed along with the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 107, and is basically the same as those cars only with some tweaks and changes. Its tiny dimensions are easy to negotiate through city streets, and it's very cheap to run. You get enough performance to make it zip around, but it does feel quite underpowered and exposed on the motorway. Inside, it's the usual small car affair, with decent room up front but a big squeeze in the back for adults. The boot is also on the small side. Insurance and maintenance costs should be low, though. It also only has a three-star Euro NCAP rating, which is really below par for a modern car, but a new model is due in 2014, which will be safer, longer and come in three and five-door models. The Toyota Aygo comes in foru main specifications – entry-level Active, Active Plus, Mode, and top-of-the-range Move.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
Because the Toyota Aygo is very lightweight and has tiny dimensions, all of the models on offer return fuel economy in the mid-60s mpg and most manage to emit less than 100g/km, making them tax free. There's no diesel option, but the tiny 1.0-litre petrol engine will return 65.7mpg and emit just 99g/km of CO2, so it performs well, if hardly at the top end of current standards of economy. You can get an automatic version but it's not very good to drive and does have slightly higher fuel consumption. The Aygo is popular with young drivers thanks to low insurance costs, while the five-year/100,000-mile warranty will also help keep a lid on any unexpected bills. Toyota also offers competitive fixed-price servicing and fixed-price repairs with no hidden charges to further sweeten the deal.
Interior & comfort
First the positive – the Aygo has nicely cushioned and supple suspension that is good at ironing out any major bumps in the road without feeling too soft and lolling on the road. But now the negative – once the lively engine starts to build up speed and you press down the accelerator to get some good revs going, it gets pretty noisy, with a loud hum from the engine, plus particularly annoying wind and road noise. Then, when it comes to driver and passenger comfort, the Aygo falls quite a way behind more recent competition like the VW up! and Skoda Citigo. There's not very much adjustment in the driving position, and the seat bases are quite flat and can you give a numb bum over distances any longer than a jaunt into town. If you’re foolhardy enough to squeeze yourself into the back of an Aygo, you won’t want to stay there for long – head and legroom simply aren’t good enough, and adults will struggle to get comfortable, even on shorter journeys.
Practicality & boot space
You only have to look at the Aygo's frankly tiny exterior dimensions to know that it won’t be the most practical – beyond it's amazing ability to fit in gaps other cars find hard to reach. So, you get a small interior, but there's still plenty of space in the front, with loads of useful storage cubbies and pockets, though there really isn’t enough adjustment in the driving position, making it hard to get the best view. In the back, you’ll find just about enough space for a couple of adults to squeeze in, but getting in and out in the three-door model is really quite difficult because of the low roofline and awkward entrance. The boot situation doesn’t help much either, being one of the smallest in its class, offering only 139 litres – however, unlike key rivals, the Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1, the Aygo does come fitted with split-folding rear seats as standard. If you need to carry lots of shopping on a regular basis, though, the Volkswagen up! is a much more practical car.
Reliability & safety
Given Toyota's seemingly bulletproof reputation for reliability, you’d expect the Aygo to be a top performer in this regard. However, while Toyota itself still did well in the reliability rankings in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey – coming ninth overall, dropping four places down the chart compared to 2012 – the Aygo could only come 146th in the list of the top 150 cars. It was only really marked down for the obvious shortcomings in practicality and comfort that you’d expect from a city car, though. While Toyota generally makes safe cars, the Aygo was part of a trio of cars – along with the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 107 – that were downgraded from a four to three-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, falling far short of current standards set by its competition. It is worth noting, though, that Toyota updated the range in 2013, adding lots of new safety equipment and accessories, including side airbags and rear headrests, which should help improve the safety score when it is next assessed.
Engines, drive & performance
You don’t get a diesel option in the Aygo, and like with sister cars the Peugeot 107 and Citroen C1, you only get one engine choice, a 67bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol that is perfectly good when driving around town but is undeniably lacking in power and performance when taken out on the motorway. The Aygo's lightweight body does mean it feels responsive in first gear, so you can nip in and out of traffic easily and safely, and its light steering makes parking a real doddle. The suspension is well suited to the car, soaking up bumps and potholes without feeling too soft – inspiring some confidence from behind the wheel. You won’t fail to notice the intrusive wind and road noise at high speeds, though, because they turn long distance trips into something of a chore, and while the good visibility is useful, it can make you feel quite vulnerable when surrounded by big vans and large lorries, especially on the motorway.
Price, value for money & options
The Aygo may look like an expensive city car at first glance, but it's only priced a little more than the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 107 - they’re essentially the same car with different badges and reworked exteriors. The extra expense is somewhat justified by the superior build quality and generous five year/100,000-mile warranty that comes as standard. Once inside the Aygo, it feels well constructed and is definitely easy to drive, but standard equipment and accessories levels aren’t very impressive on the entry-level models. Higher specification cars do come fitted with air-conditioning, sat-nav and Bluetooth connectivity, though. Given the Aygo's age now, there are plenty for sale on the used car market, resale value remain surprisingly strong, so you’re likely to get a fair amount of cash back when the time comes to make a second-hand deal. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point that the Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto are better value and offer increased practicality.