"The Toyota Verso's appeal lies in its practicality and ease of use. It's a very capable family car, though the rearmost seats are cramped."
If you’re a school run veteran, needing space for up to six children, the Toyota Verso is an excellent choice. It's a practical seven-seater, and while the third row of seats is really only for kids, it can be folded easily to turn the car into a spacious five-seater with a large boot. The Toyota puts reliability and fuel efficiency before style and sporty handling. The 2.0 D-4D diesel version isn’t as smooth to drive as a petrol Verso, but returns over 50mpg. Those wanting something smaller than the Verso should consider the Verso S.
The Verso clearly hasn’t been developed with driving fun in mind. The light steering leaves you feeling detached from the driving experience. Other controls, such as the gearchange, have also clearly been designed for ease of use. However, body roll is well controlled through corners and the car feels safe and surefooted at all times. The 2.0-litre D-4D diesel is refined and economical, while the 1.8-litre and 1.6-litre petrol engines are smoother, but feel sluggish at low revs. The driver sits high, giving an excellent view of the road ahead.
The suspension is smooth, absorbing bumps in the road well. The cabin is quiet at at high speed, although wind noise from the large wing mirrors can be heard at motorway speeds. The third row of seats can accommodate adults at a squeeze, but is really only designed for children. Leg and headroom is good for all other occupants, though.
Toyotas have a reputation for outstanding reliability, although that has taken a hit over the last 12 months. The Verso was one of the cars recalled for modifications to a potentially sticky throttle pedal, but new cars will all have the update already applied. The dashboard features a bland design, but the materials used are tough and durable – so the Verso stands up well to the wear and tear of family life.
No matter what you think of the cabin design, the Verso has lost none of its versatility. As before, it's equipped with Toyota's ‘Easy Flat 7’ seating system. This not only sees the three individual chairs in the middle bench slide independently, but they also tumble forwards to aid access to the third row. Unfolding either of the two rear seats from the floor is a one-handed operation, too. Boot space is limited to 178 litres with the third row of seats in place, but with five people on board, there's a healthy 607 litres of loading space.
Value for money
The Verso range starts at nearly £400 less than the Renault Grand Scenic and almost £2,000 less than the Ford Grand C-MAX – the five-seat 130bhp T2 1.6 V-Matic model is priced from £17,505. Residual values are strong, too, so you should recover a good chunk of your initial outlay when the time comes to sell. But if you’re looking for a much cheaper alternative than the Toyota, it's worth considering the Kia Carens.
The 2.0-litre D-4D diesel version of the Verso is around average for this class in terms of efficiency – with a manual gearbox it emits 139g/km of CO2 and returns 53.3mpg fuel economy. Services are required every 10,000 miles, which is more frequently than on some rivals, although Toyota's main dealers have a reputation for providing excellent customer care and decent value for money. Plus, you can guarantee that any major repair bills will be a rare occurrence.