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Toyota Verso S 2011 Road Test

The Toyota Verso S fills a yawning gap in the Toyota range. The old Postman Pat Toyota Yaris Verso is sorely missed. Between 1999 and 2006 it sold 150,000 in Europe alone.

Since then, the hole it left in the market has been filled, first by the Honda Jazz, Ford Fusion, Renault Modus and Mitsubishi Colt. Then by the Nissan Note. Then by the Citroen C3 Picasso. And more recently by the KIA Venga and Hyundai ix20

Even FIAT had a good Idea while it lasted.

And with increasing numbers of reasonably affluent ‘empty nesters’ wanting high seating and easy entry and egress, the market has grown.

So time for Toyota to get back in there with the Verso S, based on the third generation Yaris.

There was a Verso of the Yaris II in Japan, called the Ractis, but Toyota GB felt it wasn’t sufficiently different from the Yaris II to justify importing it.

The Verso S well and truly is.

You get five upright fully belted seats, 60/40 split rear seats that fold with one touch, a lipless rear sill unless you drop the boot floor to give 393 litres of loadspace (336 litres without), an optional CVT-7 automatic transmission and, for the auto, £30 tax.

The T-Spirit has even more total bootspace because, instead of a space saver spare, it has a tyrefix kit, and that releases a total of 429 litres.

Prices kick off at £13,995 on an introductory offer for the TR, rising to £16,895 for the top T-Spirit with CVT-7, panoramic glass roof and 16” alloys with 185/60 R16 tyres.

They all have height-adjustable front seats, multi adjustable steering wheels and, uniquely, a touch screen Bluetooth, information and entertainment system that doubles up as the screen for a reversing camera and, from May 2011, can be enhanced for £500 to become full scale satnav.

That should be a worthwhile upgrade because, like Audi’s latest systems, it can be used to access Google Local Search when paired up with a compatible smartphone.

To drive, it’s okay given the competition it faces. Ride quality and comfort have obviously been prioritised over pinpoint steering and high speed handling. So don’t expect to see any ‘empty nesters’ taking their Verso S on track days.

The 98PS 1,329cc petrol engine offers only 125Nm torque at 4,000rpm, so isn’t very grunty on hills and needs all six ratios of its six speed manual gearbox. Similarly, you need to use the paddles of the CVT-7 to make satisfying progress. Though you can, if you wish, simply leave it in Drive to choose its own ratios. An advantage of this box is that it makes the Verso S the only automatic MPV of its size to fall into the £30 a year tax bracket. (The manual is currently £90 a year to tax.)

There is a Verso S 1.4 D-4D diesel but the UK won’t be getting it because for the type of people to whom the car has the most appeal the diesel makes no sense. It would be more expensive to buy, no cheaper to tax than the manual CVT-7 and could suffer diesel particulate filter problems used for repeated short runs from cold starts.

Should you buy a Toyota Verso S in preference to the mostly cheaper Nissan Note, Honda Jazz, Hyundai ix20 or KIA Venga?

You should certainly consider it and bear in mind that in the standard TR spec you do get a lot of equipment that you don’t get in lower priced examples of its competitors.

And, if you plump for the Multidrive S CVT automatic, you benefit from lower tax than the Jazz, and much lower tax than the Note, ix20 or Venga automatics.

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