What is it?
This is the Toyota Verso 2.0 D-4D TR, a Vauxhall Zafira or Renault Grand Scenic-rivalling seven-seat compact MPV.
An MPV made by Toyota is not exactly the first car you would associate with sportiness or exciting dynamics, but the success of the Ford S-Max and the VXR version of the Vauxhall Zafira means that every new MPV tries to sell itself as an exciting car as well as a practical one.
The new Toyota Verso is no exception. Sure, the packaging is as good as ever, with seven seats, a clever fold-flat system and all the usual cubbies, and its well built (although the construction of the centre console feels a little flimsy).
But unlike the Corolla-based Verso, the new car is built on a stand-alone platform (albeit one that has close links to the RAV4 and latest Avensis), which has a longer wheelbase, wider tracks and heavily revised suspension geometry.
What’s it like?
Unfortunately for Toyota, the sporting angle is spoiled by an artificial feel to the steering, which makes it difficult to guide along a twisty road with confidence. That’s a shame, because the Verso grips well, the gearbox has a pleasant, if rather light, throw and the 229lb ft supplied by the refined 2.0-litre diesel hustles the Verso along at a reasonable pace.
On the plus side, driving enjoyment isn’t key to a compact MPV, so the fact that the Verso is a very comfy place for a long-distance journey helps to make up for the slight disappointment of the car’s uninvolving B-road performance. Aside from a wind rustle from the door mirrors, the Verso is an exceptionally refined cruiser, while its ability to quietly smother the worst road scars of our Portuguese test route is impressive.
Should I buy one?>/h3>
Take the new Verso as a fine, refined family car and it will impress, but if you expect it to be fun to drive you’ll be a tad disappointed. If it wasn’t for the existence of the Ford S-Max (which, although bigger, can be had in 1.8TDCi form for around the same price as a mid-spec Toyota Verso), this wouldn’t be a problem, but Ford has raised the bar when it comes to driving fun in MPVs, so now everybody has to play catch up. The Toyota Verso included.