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Toyota keeps the city car alive by turning it into a crossover, but at what cost?

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The city car is dead. Long live the city crossover. The Toyota Aygo X is a rare new entrant in the beleaguered city car class

We are forever being told that the A-segment, to use the industry term, is a tough one. People shopping for the smallest cars expect a low price, but these ‘cheap’ cars still shouldn’t embarrass their makers in NCAP tests or scupper their emissions targets with their unhybridised powertrains.

It’s pronounced ‘Aygo Cross’ like the Yaris Cross, even though that is spelled ‘Yaris Cross’, not ‘Yaris X’.

No wonder, then, that Citroën and Peugeot have thrown in the towel by selling their stake in the factory in Kolín, Czech Republic, where they were building the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 alongside the Toyota Aygo

Toyota still sees a future for the A-segment, though, and bought the Stellantis-owned brands’ stake in the plant to continue building the Aygo there on its own.

Toyota’s cheapest car has evolved into the Aygo X (pronounced ‘Cross’). That means it has got slightly bigger, slightly taller, slightly more grown- up, and rather a lot more expensive. After all, raising prices is the only way this type of car can be viable.

Or is it? Once you look closely at what’s available, you realise that Toyota won’t exactly have the market to itself. Sure, the Volkswagen Up and petrol Fiat 500 are ancient, and despite its reluctant breeding habits, the Fiat Panda hasn’t gone extinct, either. 

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The Kia Picanto and Hyundai i10 are still relatively fresh, the Dacia Sandero is larger but astounding value, and it’s not like Toyota is the first to make its A-segment car into a micro-SUV, because Suzuki did it in 2016 with the Suzuki Ignis.

There aren’t as many alternatives as there once were, but the Aygo X will still need to prove that it’s worth its spicy entry price.

The Toyota Aygo X line-up at a glance

Even by the standards of the class, the Aygo X range is very simple. There’s one engine and a choice of a manual or a CVT automatic gearbox. There is a larger choice of trim levels, ranging from Pure, to Edge, Exclusive and finally Limited Edition.

1.0 VVT-i71bhp£14,805


2 Toyota Aygo X RT 2022 side pan

At first glance, the Toyota Aygo X looks similar to the old one. The design language isn’t radically different, retaining the bold, playful shapes, low-set front grille, full-height rear lights and glass tailgate.

However, it’s actually a very different car. As the Aygo no longer needs to share its underpinnings with cars from other manufacturers, everything has been brought in-house and the Aygo X now rides on a modified version of the Toyota Yaris’s TNGA-B platform. 

The Aygo X's 18in wheels (17in on Pure trim) are unusually large for such a small car but give it a confident stance from the side. They’re still very narrow, though, and create a tippy-toed look from the rear. The orange accents are exclusive to the Limited Edition.

Broadly speaking, the suspension layout stays the same, with the customary MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam at the rear, but the newer tech ought to inject some more control and refinement into the chassis.

The most noticeable change, however, is that the Aygo X is a much bigger car than before. At 3700mm, it’s 235mm longer than the old Aygo, and it’s 125mm wider. As with most new hatchbacks, you always get five doors, even though the rear doors are almost comically small.

Does it qualify as an SUV or crossover? Well, at 1525mm tall, it’s still certainly no Bentley Bentayga, but the added width and the 17in or, on most versions, 18in wheels do give it a more confident stance than most city cars.

From the side at least. The alloys are just five inches wide, giving the car from the back a somewhat spindly look reminiscent of some agricultural spraying machines.

Bigger dimensions mean a bigger kerb weight, and on Millbrook’s scales our fully loaded Limited Edition test car came in at 974kg, 84kg more than the Aygo we weighed in 2014. Still, it’s a touch lighter than a Hyundai Hyundai i10, so Toyota has done well at minimising the weight gain.

What has been carried over from the old Aygo is the engine. It still uses an evolution of the original Aygo’s ‘1KR’ mill, which was designed by Daihatsu for small cars. 

The 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol unit has had some updates through the years to keep it compliant with the latest emissions regulations but it hasn’t had any significant boost in power, so the Aygo X still has to make do with just 71bhp and 69lb ft.


8 Toyota Aygo X RT 2022 dashboard

If any part of the Toyota Aygo X benefits from its growth spurt and move upmarket, it’s the interior. City cars can feel cramped due to an awkward driving position and a featureless dashboard. But that is not the case here. 

In fact, the Aygo X feels in many ways like a supermini. Thanks to the more generous exterior dimensions, the front occupants aren’t as close to each other as they used to be and there is plenty of leg room for the front row.

I like the canvas sunroof. It helps with the sense of fun you want in a cheap small car. I’m mystified why it’s electrically powered, though. If it was manual, it would be quicker and easier to open and close, you could do it without turning the car on, and most important, it would be cheaper.

The dashboard has also been completely redesigned and is defined by a bold, playful look with a dose of colour instead of the slightly sparse furnishings of the old Toyota Aygo. There are still hard plastics galore, as well as exposed metalwork on the tops of the doors and in places you’re unlikely to look, but that’s not unusual in a car like this.

You don’t miss out on tech, either. In fact, in many ways the screens are more advanced but also more user- friendly than in many other Toyotas. There is an analogue speedometer, while the tachometer and fuel gauge are simplified digital displays of illuminating segments. 

Inside the speedo, a small colour screen presents the usual information in a concise but clear way and it’s easy to navigate using the steering wheel buttons.

The heating and air conditioning are controlled using physical buttons, and for those who want even more choice of ventilation, there is the option of a fabric sunroof on some trim levels. 

It’s certainly nice to have on a sunny day, but leaving it open creates a lot of wind noise above 50mph, and even when it’s closed, it lets some extra sound through.

So long as you’re in the front, then, the Aygo X proves to be a surprisingly pleasant place to be. However, it is still a city car, and not an exceedingly roomy one at that. The rear seats are really only suitable for children and younger teenagers on account of the shortage of both leg and head room. 

Forgoing the sunroof will liberate a little bit of head room, but not much. It’s also a strict four-seater, with rather crude exposed metal hinges separating the two rear seats. At 231 litres, the boot, too, is smaller than an i10’s. 

It shrinks further, to 189 litres, if you choose the optional JBL stereo. The rear seats fold down in a 50/50 split but leave quite a big step. 

Toyota Aygo X multimedia system

For years, Toyota’s multimedia systems have been among the most outdated on the market. However, the brand has started rolling out a completely new system to facelifted and new cars, including Exclusive and Limited Edition versions of the Aygo X.

Lower trims get a 7.0in or 8.0in version of the old system. On rivals, the cheapest model often has just a phone cradle, which would have been a good thing to reduce the Aygo X’s entry price.

Our top-spec test car had Toyota’s new system and at least they have finally got that right. It is responsive enough, the interface looks modern and it is simple and easy to understand, with big buttons and not too many levels to the menus. The built-in navigation can’t beat Google Maps when it comes to estimating delays from traffic, but it otherwise works well.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available wirelessly and there is a physical button to switch between smartphone mirroring and the native system.


11 Toyota Aygo X RT 2022 gear lever

Zero to 62mph in 16.7sec. This isn’t a road test from 1962. It’s one from 2022. When turbocharged competitors can crack 10.0sec and many ordinary cars will do it in under eight, that is unacceptably slow.

The claimed figure from Toyota is 14.9sec, and perhaps one-up, with more miles on the car to loosen up the engine and gearbox (our test car had only around 300 miles on the clock), it might get close to that. 

No one’s expecting the Aygo X to be a hot hatch, and there is something joyful about thrashing a small car with a three-pot and a tight manual gearbox. But the Aygo’s glacial performance feels like it’s from a different age.

However, that is still slower than most rivals, as is the in-gear performance. The Toyota Aygo X’s 30-70mph-in-fourth time of 29.2sec matches the old Aygo’s exactly, and is slower than the 1.2-litre Hyundai i10’s.

The 1.0-litre three-pot lacks torque low down and needs quite a lot of revs to get going without stalling. It doesn’t help that the clutch is rather vague and has a high biting point. 

After that, though, it pulls keenly to its 6500rpm redline with the signature three-cylinder growl and the Aygo X is able to maintain a 70mph motorway cruise without too much stress.

The gearbox may have harmed the Aygo X’s 0-62mph time with its notchy action and narrow gate that complicated the second-to-third shift, but in normal use on the road it’s actually a delight. 

So long as you don’t try to rush the change, the short throw and mechanical feel take the edge off the lethargic performance. Keeping the 71bhp on the boil takes a lot of gearchanging, but at least that part is not a chore. Pedals that are perfectly sited for heel-and-toeing are a nice bonus.

It also helps that the gear ratios are evenly spaced and don’t leave a huge gap between second and third. Overall, though, the gearing could do with being a little shorter still to make the most of the meagre power.

Toyota does offer an automatic option, in the shape of a CVT. Opting for the two-pedal version is claimed to take 0.1sec off the 0-62mph time, but we would choose the added control of the manual over that marginal gain in performance.

It took the Aygo X a smidge longer to come to a stop than the i10, but stopping in 45.6m from 70mph is still a good result and ahead of most other rivals we have tested. On the road, the pedal is nicely progressive, too. 


16 Toyota Aygo X RT 2022 front corner

A stiffer platform made the outgoing Toyota Aygo more reassuring to drive than the original, and with its modified Toyota Yaris underpinnings, the Toyota Aygo X continues that trend. 

If you’re after a truly engaging chassis, you would still do well to look elsewhere (preferably at the class above), but the Aygo X possesses enough poise and composure to make the most of the very modest performance.

Realistically, you’re unlikely to achieve velocities that will challenge the chassis, but it’s tidy, maintains good balance and grips well. It’s also comfortable on longer drives.

It may have got heavier, but 974kg is still hardly obese, and this shows in the way the little Toyota goes down the road. That sort of mass doesn’t ask much of the 175-section tyres, so in the dry at least, grip is never an issue. 

That said, getting up to the sort of speed that might challenge the chassis is an achievement in itself, and the stability control will intervene if there is even just a slight risk of things getting exciting.

The systems will limit power before any understeer occurs and any hint of lift-off oversteer is decisively nipped in the bud. It’s all done smoothly and nearly undetectably, which is quite appropriate for a city car.

The steering doesn’t provide much intel about what the front wheels are doing and is typically light but feels usefully consistent. Importantly in a city car, the turning circle is tiny, at 9.4m, so parking it is still a doddle. Just watch out for kerbs with those black 18in alloy wheels.

For a small car, the Aygo X has impressively grown-up road behaviour. One area where you do notice its budget-oriented make-up is on uneven roads. 

The chassis deals with simple vertical inputs well enough, but one wheel catching a roadside dip can elicit a shimmy from the rear axle that you certainly wouldn’t find in anything with independent rear suspension, but it is also better controlled in most superminis.

Comfort and isolation

Comfort, especially for taller drivers and on long journeys, isn’t usually the strength of A-segment cars. They are called city cars for a reason. However, it’s here that the Aygo X makes the greatest strides.

Becoming slightly taller has greatly benefited the Aygo’s driving position. With more head and leg room, and ample adjustment in the steering column, it’s easier to relax behind the wheel.

The seats themselves contribute to that, too. Even on the cheapest version, they are height adjustable. There is no adjustment for the lumbar support, but none of the testers found that to be a problem. The seat base is also relatively long and angled upwards more steeply than in most cars, which provides good thigh support to taller drivers.

Acoustic refinement is on a par with other small cars, with a constant but perfectly acceptable level of road noise, and a bit of wind whistle around the B-pillar. Our test car was fitted with the canvas sunroof, and despite sealing fairly tightly, it lets through some ambient noise, so we suspect that at speed, an Aygo X with a solid roof could be one or two decibels quieter.

Those 18in wheels look like they could be disastrous for the ride comfort but once again serve to illustrate the positive knock-on effects of a light kerb weight. Controlling less than a tonne of mass doesn’t require particularly stiff springs and dampers, so the Aygo rides relatively comfortably. 

Assisted driving notes

Toyota makes a point of fitting its whole arsenal of active safety features to all its passenger cars, including the cheapest ones. Depending on how you look at it, it’s a noble gesture or something to needlessly inflate the price of what is supposed to be a cheap car.

This means automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection (cyclists only during daylight hours), lane keeping assistance and active
lane following, and adaptive cruise control are all present and correct. Blindspot monitoring is a surprising omission, though.

The lane following can ping-pong a little within the lane, but it’s easily turned on and off using the dedicated steering-wheel button. The lane keeping assistance can be slightly bothersome on country roads but is also very easily disabled. The adaptive cruise control works well, too, as it has the ability to adopt speed limits and you can set it to plain cruise control if you wish. 


Toyota Aygo X front lead 99

Developing an all-new city car in 2022 is clearly a precarious financial balancing act. How much can city car manufacturers whittle away at expensive luxury features before customers get upset, and how much can they reasonably charge?

The most basic Pure version of the Toyota Aygo X is very well equipped, making it rather expensive at £14,805. But then none of its rivals are particularly cheap any more. A basic Volkswagen Up, Hyundai i10 or Kia Picanto are all slightly cheaper but they lack some of the Toyota’s equipment. A Dacia Sandero is cheaper still, though, and is a much more versatile machine.

Spec advice? Only the basic Pure trim makes financial sense – and it has all the essentials you’d expect in a city car, and more. It’s a pity the paint options are so monochrome and it’s saddled with Toyota’s old infotainment. If you go for a higher trim, the canvas roof is a nice addition.

It’s when you start adding options that things can get out of hand. Edge trim costs £16,505 without offering dramatically more equipment.Our Limited Edition car, with its heated seats, LED lights, wireless charging and more, comes in at a whopping £19,650 – or £20,750 if you go for the CVT automatic. PCP finance starts at around £150 per month for a base Aygo X with a £3000 deposit.

Aside from being cheap to buy, a small car, you’d expect, should be cheap to run. Fuel consumption is certainly nothing to worry about here. Most hybrids and plug-in hybrids will struggle to better the 58.2mpg we got over a week with the Aygo X. Toyota also has an outstanding reputation for reliability, and the old Aygo was no exception to that.

CAP doesn’t have figures for the running costs yet, but we are slightly concerned about how much attention has been paid to this in the Aygo X’s design. For instance, those 18in wheels may look sharp, but the tyres are an unusual size.  We found only three options for 175/60 R18 tyres, with the cheapest costing £120 a corner, excluding fitting. That’s not an unusual price for 18in tyres, but Aygo owners might still baulk at it.


18 Toyota Aygo X RT 2022 static

If the small car was a species of animal, it may not be critically endangered, but it would certainly be classified as vulnerable. So a new member of the species is very welcome, but we’re unconvinced that Toyota’s approach is the way forward for the segment.

For the most part, the Toyota Aygo X is an excellent small car. The interior is value motoring perfected. It’s not especially roomy, but the design is playful, the ergonomics are exemplary and all the tech you could want is either standard or available as an option. The chassis and the refinement are up to the standards of the class above, too.

However, the engine has seen service in every generation of the Aygo and it’s woefully underpowered by 2022 standards. A manual gearbox that’s great to use keeps it drivable, but it’s not a good look when rivals offer turbocharged options.

The Aygo X’s biggest problem, however, is the price. The most basic version can just about justify its asking price, but plusher variants are very expensive indeed, and at that price point, the sluggish performance and tight interior space become more grating.

Illya Verpraet

Illya Verpraet Road Tester Autocar
Title: Road Tester

As part of Autocar’s road test team, Illya drives everything from superminis to supercars, and writes reviews, comparison tests, as well as the odd feature and news story. 

Much of his time is spent wrangling the data logger and wielding the tape measure to gather the data for Autocar’s eight-page road tests, which are the most rigorous in the business thanks to independent performance, fuel consumption and noise figures.

Toyota Aygo X First drives