When the original Aygo and its French cousins were launched, there wasn’t a great deal of competition in this class. That they felt relatively agile and were responsive enough to inputs meant that they rose near to the top of what was a fairly mediocre bunch.

This time around, things have become more difficult. There are rivals that are not only more refined than an old Aygo could ever have hoped to be but also give more driving enjoyment at the same time.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The Aygo won't surprise you nastily, even when driven in an aggressive fashion

The stiffer platform of the new Aygo has cured the city car of one of its biggest dynamic bugbears: slack, lifeless steering. Now it turns with more positivity, accuracy and response; the rest of the major controls are fine, too.

An Up or alternatives might give you more firmness and directness to their controls and an i10 has a more positive gearshift, but this Aygo is far less soggy than the previous one.

It rides pretty well, too, with decent isolation from secondary lumps and bumps, which is no mean feat for a car of its light weight. Again, our impression is that there’s a touch more isolation, in both noise and composure, in an Up or i10, but the Toyota Aygo is comfortable against the rest.

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However, with the past decade’s increase in class size has also come an increase in fun. The Panda is still the car for which we hold the most affection here – not necessarily because it grips hardest or shows the best resistance to understeer (it doesn’t), or even because its steering is keenest (it isn’t), but because it shows a degree of verve that its more sensible rivals do not.

The Aygo falls somewhere between them all on this count. It doesn’t quite feel as willing as a Panda to be shown the way, but there’s more vigour and response and a better-controlled body than you’ll find in the Volkswagen or its sisters.

If a driver is on the limit in a Toyota Aygo, there are two likely possibilities: one, it’s an emergency; two, it’s a hire car. The former is our priority here, and the Aygo will serve you pretty well.

The stability control always stays on and the traction control can be switched out at low speeds only, to allow some slip on very low-friction surfaces. The stability control itself is pretty well judged, too, nipping any serious slip before it begins but cutting out again pretty quickly once things are under control.

The Aygo’s natural handling balance, then, is slightly harder to judge, but on our wet circuit they were a little clearer. The car displays a tendency to understeer at first, just as it should, before the stability systems cut in.

There’s the onset of lift-off oversteer, too, but you don’t get far into it before the electronics intervene. For the ragged-edged hire car driver, then, there’s a little to enjoy here; the Aygo is otherwise agile and its brakes display a willingness to resist fade in all conditions.

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