3.8 out of 5
The Toyota Aygo X is the Japanese giant’s bet on the future of the city car; a small, nippy hatchback with the styling of an SUV and raised suspension. It looks ideally suited to Britain’s often less than ideal roads, which are strewn with potholes and speed bumps.
It’s still instantly recognisable as an Aygo, but now with even more expressive headlights, tough, fashionable body plastic cladding and large 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels pushed as far to each corner of the bodywork as they’ll go.
This is a bold, contemporary look, but Toyota has been rather more conservative in other areas. While there are bright coloured pieces of trim around the infotainment touchscreen and gearlever, you’ll also find an analogue instrument cluster and plenty of hard, durable plastics. In other words, it’s a reminder that the Aygo X starts from around £15,000 – a price point where manufacturers struggle to make a profit nowadays.
Its standard equipment list looks good, though, with features laser-focussed at its target audience that include a seven-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, air conditioning and even a reversing camera in the entry-level Pure trim. Edge adds a bigger screen and alloy wheels and bi-colour paintwork, while the top Exclusive gets LED headlights, a wireless smartphone charger and a larger nine-inch touchscreen.
Under the short bonnet of the Aygo X’ there’s an evolution of Toyota’s tried-and-tested 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine – with no hybrid or all-electric version on the horizon. It’s a traditional take on the city car formula, that keeps the cost of buying or leasing the Aygo X very low, and will prove cheap to run for private buyers. However, its tailpipe emissions of just above 100g/km won’t make it as appealing for business users as an EV like the electric Fiat 500, Honda e or MINI Electric. Official fuel-efficiency figures are between 57.6 and 60.1mpg.
On the road, the Aygo X has light steering and its slightly raised view out feels like an advantage on congested city streets. The raised suspension feels like a net gain too, because while it has slightly more lean in tight corners, it’s better at soaking up bumps. Its engine feels rather old fashioned, though, with a fairly loud thrum under acceleration that’s characterful, but not especially relaxing with either the five-speed manual or CVT automatic gearbox.
Unlike many rival manufacturers which are launching electric superminis like the Fiat 500, Toyota is sticking with a small petrol engine for the Aygo X. While this doesn’t have the stark running cost advantages, it does ensure the small Toyota is very affordable to lease or buy.
Your only choice is whether to specify the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine with a five-speed manual or a CVT automatic gearbox – the former returns up to 60.1mpg and emits 107g/km of CO2, while the auto gets 57.6mpg and 110g/km. For this reason, we’d say the manual is a better bet unless you really need the ease of an automatic in urban traffic.
Emissions of just over 100g/km mean the Aygo X sits in a middling Benefit-in-Kind band for company-car drivers, but it wins back points for being cheap to insure. Its VED (road tax) bill will also be the standard amount for combustion-engined models. For £15 a month Toyota will provide the first three services and roadside assistance for three years.
Following the standard three-year/60,000 mile warranty, the Aygo X also qualifies for Toyota’s ‘Relax’ warranty, which can cover the car for up to 10 years/100,000 miles, and is activated each time the car is serviced at a Toyota dealership. So long as you’re happy to stick to these terms, it’s even longer than the seven-year warranty offered with the Kia Picanto.
The Toyota’s quasi-SUV looks aren’t just for style, they also affect the driving experience. Nipping through city traffic, the raised driving position means you feel like the view out is slightly better than in rivals, and light, quick steering makes it easy to confidently drive through narrow gaps and make lane changes.
There’s a small amount of body lean to remind you of the taller ride height, but the Aygo X handles in a neat and reassuring fashion, so you can tackle a winding road without the car feeling out of its element.
Its 1.0-litre engine is surprisingly loud compared to its hybrid and electric competitors, with some vibration through the pedals that reminds you of its three-cylinder thrum. It’s not necessarily the most relaxing sensation, but it does give the Toyota some personality. The 71bhp engine feels happiest when the car has some momentum, but you need to ensure the right gear is selected to keep progress going, or to get up hills or overtake slower traffic.
The S-CVT gearbox makes town driving a more relaxing experience, but it’s when the car is asked to power onto a motorway, or overtake another car that it sits at high revs and drones loudly until the required speed is reached. In both cars, getting from 0-62mph takes around 15 seconds. This is some way off the 9.5 seconds of the electric Fiat 500, which feels a lot nippier as a result.
Most city cars are fitted with small wheels and cost-saving suspension, so they can struggle with potholes and speed bumps, but the Aygo X does well here. Its new underpinnings and raised ride mean it soaks up rough surfaces pretty well for a car of its size, making it ideal for Britain’s pockmarked streets. There’s a bit of wind and tyre noise at higher speeds, but on the whole, the Aygo X feels solid.
The interior has been designed to be cheerful, with lots of oval shapes and some colourful trim for the air vents and touchscreen surround to keep it youthful. But it’s also clear this is a car built to have an affordable price tag, with reminders like the basic instrument cluster and hard plastics on the door panels and some of the dashboard. Happily, Toyota does a good job of making these materials feel like they’ve been chosen to be durable, not just to save pennies. We also think the physical ventilation controls are far easier to use while on the move than a touchscreen solution.
Kicking off with the Pure version, it’s important to remember the Aygo X costs just under £15,000 – even the cheapest Fiat 500 electric is around £7,000 more expensive. It’s kitted out with 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear-view camera, and a seven-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The Edge trim adds large 18-inch wheels, bi-colour paintwork, privacy glass and front foglights. Inside, there’s also an eight-inch screen with Toyota’s ‘Smart Connect’ software. The range-topping Exclusive version sees the display increase again to nine-inches, and adds a wireless smartphone charger, all-round parking sensors and LED headlights.
The Aygo X might be the smallest car in Toyota’s range, but it has grown slightly to go with its new pumped up looks. Thanks to 125mm extra width, it feels roomier in the front seats, which is where it really counts in a car in the city car class. There’s no such luck in the back, where rear legroom is identical to the old Aygo. While kids will be happy enough, it’s a tight squeeze for adults.
Toyota has instead concentrated on using the Aygo X’ lengthened wheelbase (the gap between its front and rear wheels is now 90mm longer) to increase boot space: at 231 litres, it’s a very handy 60 litres bigger now than before. That’s a decent amount more space than the 185 litres you’ll find in the electric Fiat 500, while the Hyundai i10 is more generous still with 252 litres of luggage space.
While many new models come with the added complexity of hybrid or electric power, the Aygo X is actually quite traditional. Its small petrol engine not only lacks any electrification, but it doesn’t even have a turbocharger, and it’s an evolution of the engine fitted in the previous Aygo. So long as it’s serviced on time, there shouldn’t be a great deal to worry about. The previous generation of Aygo came 60th out of 75 models in our latest Driver Power survey, with an average score for reliability and build quality.
Safety takes a step up thanks to a big uptick in the number of driver assistance systems fitted in the Aygo X. These have trickled down from larger models in the Toyota range, and include pedestrian and cyclist detection, road sign recognition and automatic headlight dipping. Convenience is also boosted with the arrival of adaptive cruise control, technology that can also improve safety by reducing fatigue on a long journey. However, the Aygo X hasn’t yet been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, so it has yet to be given an independent safety rating.
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3.8 out of 5