3/5dr Hatch (1.0 petrol])
By Jonathan Crouch
The second generation version of Toyota’s Aygo citycar launched in 2014 proved to be a little more efficient, a little more hi-tech and a little more fun to drive than its predecessor. Plus it offered a whole host of personalisation options. This was – and is – in the brand’s own words, ‘a car you could be proud of’. It certainly has a lot more of its own identity in MK2 guise. Let’s check it out as a used buy.
So, what makes a car feel ‘fun’? Sprightly handling? Cheeky looks? Clever marketing? And can an urban runabout really qualify for purchase on those grounds? With this model, the second generation Toyota Aygo, we were told that it could.
You might think you know this car but if you haven’t tried this MK2 version, launched here in the Summer of 2014, then you probably don’t. Yes, it shares many of its mechanicals with the original design. No, it’s not the same. Let’s start with the fundamental thing that wasn’t changed here. As before, this design was produced as part of a joint Toyota/PSA Group venture that also brought us French alternatives sharing most of this car’s important bits – namely Peugeot’s 108 and Citroen’s C1.
That was also the case with the first generation Aygo, but that car didn’t make much attempt to differentiate itself. This one proved to be very different. It wasn’t only the look that was unique but also the very specific way that original buyers could personalise it to suit almost any kind of taste or preference. On top of that, no other competitor from this era (2014-2017) is more efficient, safer or more laden with technology. That ought to be enough for starters. Let’s see what else this MK2 Aygo has to offer the used car buyer. We’ll focus here on the original; version of this car which sold until mid-2018, when a facelifted model was announced.
What To Look For
You’d expect a small modern-era Toyota to be pretty free of faults and, by and large, most of the buyers in our ownership survey seemed pretty satisfied. However, a few issues have surfaced. The clutch problems that afflicted the previously generation Aygo aren’t as prevalent here but they still exist; check the clutch biting point and gear engagement on your test drive. We heard a few reports of exhaust issues too, evidenced by a growly sound from the tailpipes. In one instance, the airbag warning light came on erroneously on the dash. In another, there was a water leak on the front footwell. And in another, a faulty seal caused the car to ice up on the inside on cold mornings. Otherwise, it’s just a case of insisting on a fully stamped-up service record, checking any alloy wheel from chips and scrapes and inspecting the rear of the interior for any child damage.
On The Road
So, this car is supposed to be ‘fun to drive’. But just how much ‘fun’ is it really possible to have in a car with just 69 braked horses beneath its bonnet? Actually, a surprising amount. For a start, the 998cc unit sounds playful, its normally aspirated note filling the cabin with a characterful three cylinder thrum. True, the long first and second gear ratios mean you’ll have to rev it quite hard for meaningful progress but there’s plenty of performance for town trips.
Once on the move, the first thing you’ll probably notice is just how light most of the controls are – especially the steering and the clutch. The exception to this is the gear change, which needs more of a firm shove than you’d expect from a car designed with urban driving in mind. If that’s an issue, then you might well be tempted by an automatic ‘x-shift’ gearbox model. And handling? Well the Aygo development team say that they benchmarked the Ford Ka in this respect, one of the results of which was that the steering was made 14% more direct than the old car.
Citycar buyers are more loyal to petrol power than any other group of motorists and Toyota has been more loyal to the particular petrol engine used here than you’d expect a brand to be. Its fundamentals do, after all, date all the way back to the launch of the first generation Aygo model in 2005. Still, on the quiet, many engines today have fundamentals that go back quite a long way. Anyway, this one has been very thoroughly re-worked for the modern era, a higher, compression ratio, an improved combustion chamber design and use of a low-friction timing chain all combining not only to improve efficiency but also to boost power slightly over the previous model.
At first glance, it would be entirely understandable if you felt that this second Aygo interpretation was a case of style over substance. The wheelbase is the same as the MK1 model, you still find a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine beneath the bonnet and the basic handling dynamics are little changed. Even the interior accommodation is much the same.
Despite all of that though, there’s no doubt that the updates that created this second generation Aygo really brought it into contention in this segment. The cabin feels far more modern than that of the previous design, the clever x-touch infotainment system is a must-have and it’s hard to think of a bolder, more progressive-looking citycar from the 2014-2017 era. Yes, it’s a design that still might disappoint in terms of total space. And the improved handling still doesn’t quite hit the class benchmark. But it’s versatile and fun to drive enough for these things not to put you off imagining one in your mental driveway.
From being forgettable, the Aygo is in this form genuinely likeable – and there’s a world of difference between those two attributes. You could imagine caring about this Toyota – feeling a genuine sense of pride in ownership. If that was Toyota’s aim, then the mission was accomplished here.
Source : BournemouthEcho