What is it?
The 2014 reimagining of the Toyota Aygo city car was certainly a brave one. Out went the staid-looking original and in came the funky second-generation car, with its divisive front-end sporting a large plastic ‘X’ shape extruding from the main body. ‘Go Fun Yourself’, Toyota proclaimed.
This is the new, range-topping Aygo X-clusiv model, which comes with a roll-back canvas roof plus almost every other bit of kit as standard bar the optional £400 sat-nav. Driven here is a five-door example with a manual gearbox and that optional sat-nav, so it comes with a hefty £14,045 price. For a range that starts from as little as £8495, this new, high-spec trim will need to do a fair bit to justify its cost. For the record, there is another Aygo with a canvas roof: the mid-spec X-pression X-Wave, which costs from £12,790.
The Aygo shares its underpinnings with the Citroën C1 and Peugeot 108, which are both praiseworthy city cars in their own right. Then there's the oh-so stylish Fiat 500C convertible, the entry-level version of which is almost identically priced to this Aygo X-clusiv.
What's it like?
The X-clusiv is only a new trim level, so the car underneath is no different from other current Aygos. The only engine available is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder VVT-i. Naturally, it places its focus on efficiency, and the official figures of 68.9mpg combined and CO2 emissions of 95g/km are class-competitive.
Around town it’s more than responsive enough. There's good flexibility within gears and the performance is sufficiently peppy to allow you to pull away from traffic lights with minimal effort. Nimble handling only adds to the Aygo’s intrinsic ability for ducking and diving through narrow streets, and it also has a pleasantly surprising amount of steering feel for the class, rounding corners with enthusiasm and accuracy.
The manual gearshift has a slick action and changes takes place with minimal fuss. There's also a shift light in your line of vision that's useful when you’re watching your fuel economy. One slight issue with the gearbox is the closeness of the gate: you can easily engage the wrong gear if you're not careful.
The ride is decent, so the Aygo deals with big bumps well, but on undulating surfaces it can be fidgety. As a result it's not up to the standards of the best city cars, such as the Volkswagen Up or Hyundai i10.
Take the Aygo on the motorway and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. You have to push fairly hard to get up to speed on shorter slip roads, but you don't struggle as much as you might expect for a city car. In fact, the most annoying aspect of travelling at speed is the amount of wind noise you get coming off the canvas roof when it's closed.
Inside, the X-clusiv doesn’t quite live up to its name. Certainly the leather seats and steering wheel add an air of finery, but there's no hiding the rest of the scratchy plastics on the dashboard and door cards. Generally this is the norm for the city car class, yet VW manages to apply a better-looking sheen to its Up models. The Aygo's seats provide a comfortable, upright driving position, with fair adjustment, but the steering wheel only adjusts for rake, not reach.