New car review: 2014 Toyota Aygo
Some cars have a mysterious ability of putting you in a certain type of driving mood. For example, my 1996 BMW 320i makes lovely straight-six noises between 2,000 and 3,000rpm, and as a result I drive it mostly at cruising speeds. The Toyota Aygo on the other hand is one of those cars I found myself driving faster than strictly necessary most of the time. It’s a small city car with only 82hp, so it isn’t that fast by any means. But there’s more to driving fun than outright speed, and after two weeks of driving it, I can easily say it’s the second most fun I’ve had in a car this year (the first was in a 2014 Mustang GT convertible).
They say that the looks of a car is a very subjective matter, and I tend to agree with that statement, especially when it comes to the new Aygo. I for one think it’s a nice, cute-looking city car, but then a friend of mine thought it was downright ugly – saying that it looked like an insect. But whether you think it’s a good-looking car or not, its compactness is definitely one of its key selling points (it is 3,455mm in length and 1,615mm wide). Being able to park in the smallest spaces, manoeuver through the tightest of underground parking lots, and drive through the narrowest city streets with ease are among the things that you truly appreciate when you drive the Aygo.
Price and specs
The Toyota Aygo is one of the most affordable cars you can buy in Switzerland, available as a three- or five-door. Prices start at CHF 13,900 for a base three-door car with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine producing 69hp, sending drive through a five-speed manual transmission. This five-door test car comes with the optional 1.2-litre engine with 82hp and 118Nm of torque – also a three-cylinder unit and connected to a five-speed manual – and is priced at CHF 19,500 when equipped with the x-cite trim. Fuel consumption is a claimed 4.3l/100km combined, 5.4l/100km in the city, and 3.7l/100km on the highway. CO2 emissions are at 99g/km.
With the x-cite trim you get standard equipment like a reverse camera, Mica metallic paint, black 15-inch wheels, a seven-inch touchscreen interface, Bluetooth connectivity, as well as USB and AUX ports. Add the Tech Pack (CHF 790), which consists of automatic climate control, keyless entry, and push-button ignition, and the total as-tested price is at CHF 20,290.
Behind the wheel
One of the reasons why I enjoyed driving the new Aygo so much was because of how easy and effortless it is to drive. Its controls are very light, the steering is electrically assisted so it’s super-light at low manoeuvring speeds and weights up – only a tad – when you start driving a bit faster. The clutch and gearchange are light too, but the clutch does take a bit of time to get used to, as the pedal travel itself is quite short and the biting point is right at the very top of the pedal travel.
The steering reacts quite well to the driver’s inputs. Combine this with the fact that the five-door Aygo weighs a mere 985kg, and you’ve got a car that’s quite nippy and plenty of fun around some twisty roads. It rides well for a lightweight city car too, absorbing most bumps adequately – only certain rough surfaces can make it feel a bit busy.
Having a three-cylinder engine means that it has a unique six-cylinder-like engine note, meaning when you accelerate hard it sounds like half a Porsche 911. The Aygo does feel quite long-geared, and despite it having a small engine it’s not spinning at high rpms when you’re on the highway. When you’re doing 120km/h the digital rev counter is at the 3,000rpm region, which isn’t that bad considering many 2.0-litre engines spin at around the same rpm when doing the same speed. Despite the modest horsepower, there’s decent in-gear acceleration for making smooth progress through the city, so you don’t find yourself having to change down as often to pass slower-moving traffic.
Driving the Aygo is mostly a pleasant experience, but like many modern cars it has thick C-pillars, meaning that reversing around a corner or out of a parking spot is made that bit more difficult. It’s a shame because one of the reasons why people buy small cars is that they’re easy to manoeuvre, but the thick C-pillars might spoil things a bit. It must be said, however, that the reverse camera does help a bit, so it’s definitely worth having an Aygo fitted with this option.
There’s enough room in the interior for four averaged-sized adults. Placing myself behind the driver’s seat (set to my seating position), I found that there was about an inch of knee-room available. However, another tall friend of mine set the seat to his position, and rear legroom was nonexistent. It must be said, however, that he was able to set the driver’s seat low and far back enough to feel completely comfortable. The trunk is expectedly small, but it will take a few groceries without having to fold down the rear seats. With the rear seats folded down, there’s enough room to carry a few big suitcases or small boxes.
While the Toyota Aygo is one of the most affordable cars you can buy today, when you look at it in more detail you will notice how Toyota manages to make it that affordable. The Aygo does not have electric or even roll-down windows for rear passengers, they get small window latches instead that allows them to open slightly. While the car is nicely painted on the outside, open the underside of the hood and you’ll find that it has not been painted, and it’s the same story when you look under the wheel arches. On the inside there’s only two air vents rather than the usual four, and the black plastics will be susceptible to scratches and early wear.
Why it's a standout
Driving a car like the Aygo really makes you wonder why you would need anything else – it’s comfortable, sounds good, it’s a good highway tool, and handles nicely. But then you have to remind yourself that some people like the rumble of a V8 engine, maybe have tall friends, or may need to carry five people and their luggage at the same time. Apart from some of the very obvious cost-cutting measures taken on this car, the new Toyota Aygo manages to provide a great combination of affordability and driving fun, and all that while being frugal. The previous Aygo was quite a popular car, and this car definitely looks set to be just as popular.
Written by Alex Kisiri