Toyota Verso 2009 Road Test

Sun, 29 Mar 2009

Toyota doesn’t do a Yaris Verso, a Corolla Verso and an Avensis Verso any more. Just one Toyota Verso, built at the Adapazari factory in Turkey.

And, after 430,000of the previous version, this is the new one, on Toyota’s World MC platform.

At first, Britain will only get the Verso 147PS 1.8 petrol Valvematic, with 6-speed manual or 7-ratio CVT, or 126PS 2.0 diesel, with 6-speed manual only. A 132PS 1.6 petrol Valvematic will come later, as the entry model and also a 150PS 6-speed torque converter automatic 2.2 diesel (as tested late last year in the new Avensis). Based on figures for the old Verso, Toyota expects to sell 20% 1.6, 20% 1.8, and 60% 2.2 diesel.

Naturally the new Toyota Verso more efficient than the old one, more spacious inside, with five individual rear seats in the back that fold separately to leave an evenly flat load deck. Happily, you don’t have to remove the head restraints first.

The new 1.8 Valvematic petrol engine, same as in the new Avensis, is particularly impressive, emitting 164g/km and managing more than 40mpg combined even with a CVT transmission. Though anyone seeking maximum economy can expect around 50mpg from the 2.2 diesel. Remember here, we are talking about a seven-seater.

Though the new Verso isn’t affected by the 50% fall in Sterling against the Yen, Sterling’s weakness has led to fairly stiff list prices from £16,745 for the 1.8 T2 to £20,670 for the 2.2 diesel T-Spirit.

Sensibly, this is a test of the new Toyota Verso’s practicality rather then its handling attributes. And in that respect, it passed.

The five rear seats are easy to erect and collapse. You can have them in any configuration you want: 1 + 2, 3 + 1, 3 + 2; whatever you need to accommodate awkward loads or the whims of child passengers. Everyone is very well protected with airbags everywhere. And there is a bit of space behind the rearmost seats for shopping or a single suitcase.

The structure is extremely stiff, as we proved by putting it to a rather unusual test (see the last photo).

There are cupholders everywhere, seatback picnic tables, a panoramic interior mirror to watch what the kids in the back are getting up to, and the T-Spirit model even has a reversing camera with the picture in a screen in the rear-view mirror, or on the satnav screen if you specify that as an option.

It’s easy rather than exciting to drive. Visibility is very good indeed, the mirrors are big, the speedo and rev counter are line-of-sight, the steering and clutch of the diesel are light. But you still have the rather tedious chore of needing to change gear.

The story becomes much better with the 1.8 Valvematic engine coupled to the 7-selectable-ratio CVT. You can leave it to do the job for you, either in Econ or Sport modes. Or take over using the paddleshifts. The effortlessness of the steering, with the lighter engine make the Verso feel much more nimble. If I had a large family, or the chore of taking six kids to school, then this is definitely the version I would go for.

Add the fact that the petrol engine leaves you with no worries about diesel particulate filters and dual mass flywheels, and I think Toyota might have to reassess its projected model split in favour of the petrol CVT.

You can posh it up with extra cost options like a panoramic sunroof for £600 and leather seats for £1,575 (well, there are seven). Satnav is more practical these days, but £1,000 - £1,500 is a fair bit more than Nissan’s £400 SD card Connect system.

The forthcoming 150PS 2.2 diesel with 6-speed torque converter auto puts out 178g/km CO2, jumping a tax band, and at 41.5mpg, it’s only 1mpg more fuel efficient than the 1.8 Valvematic CVT.

So if I was you I wouldn’t wait. Things aren’t going to get any better, yet prices will inevitably rise.

Go for the 1.8 Valvematic CVT now.

For prices, availability, specifications, powertrain details, dimensions, and performance figures please click the tabs.

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