Impressive engine and mature ride and handling, but a bit sombre and short on usual MPV practicality

What is it?

The 2014 Toyota Verso. Which is a compact MPV, in case you’re not immediately sure. Many, we suspect, won’t be.

That’s because Toyota has still got a job to do to establish itself with the young family buyers who keep the European MPV market ticking over. For evidence of that, simply ask the average UK motorist what a Picasso, a C-Max or a Scenic is, and whether a Verso deserves a mention in the same sentence. 

It does, as it turns out – and especially after Toyota’s latest facelift, principally because it’s the first Toyota to feature the maker’s new 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine licensed from BMW, in place of the old 2.0-litre D-4D. Toyota’s engineers have made a few hardware and software changes to the engine, mated it to its own six-speed manual gearbox and conjured 108bhp, 199lb ft, 119g/km and 62.8mpg from it. Those figures put the Verso right in among the most fuel-efficient, cheapest-to-run seven-seaters on the market.

What's it like?

Toyota has also used this model-year refresh to introduce a new mid-range trim level to the Verso range. Called Trend, it bundles some of the most wanted items of optional kit together at a lower price. Verso Trends come with 17in alloy wheels, sat-nav, a reversing camera, front parking sensors, front foglights and privacy glass, so they’re good value. 

But they also come with something Toyota calls a ‘floating roof effect’, as a supposed stylish point of difference. This actually means they have put an ugly black sticker over the car’s D-pillar, which just about creates the illusion of pillarlessness from a distance. At dusk. Sometimes. From normal range it just looks cheap and superfluous.

The Verso’s cabin is broadly pleasant, well finished and spacious, but here, too, a few places show the same uncharacteristic lack of attention to detail from Toyota. The instruments are offset into the centre of the fascia, away from your eyeline, apparently just for the sake of it; no extra oddment storage is created as a result. The fascia is smart, with one or two nice chrome trims, but it lacks colour and life.

The interior door handles feel flimsy and poorly finished. There’s decent passenger room, with second-row seats that tumble and slide independently, but none of the surprise practical features we’ve come to expect in the class. There’s just a telling lack of imagination and commitment about the fixtures and fittings.

The Verso’s driving experience, however, shows more careful consideration. The new diesel is as quiet and smooth as any in the class; particularly so at a steady cruise. It’s economical, too, returning 50mpg in mixed real-world use very readily, and closer to 60mpg if you’re economical of style. There’s no more low-end turbo lag to drive around than in many downsized diesels, and high-range flexibility is good.

Handling is assured and stable and body control is good, while the Verso steers accurately and with consistency of weight. It’s a precise, secure and obliging sort of a drive, although fairly humdrum. The car rides tidily, too, its dampers reining in body movement with some subtlety.

Should I buy one?

We wouldn’t warn you off. With its new engine, competent handling and enhanced, value-for-money equipment level, the Verso deserves to be ranked close to those household-name MPVs – even accounting for the little bugbears

Back to top

It’s unlikely to make the kind of splash Toyota really needs to break in among the segment’s major players, but those who bother to get to know it should like most of what they find. 

Toyota Verso 1.6 D-4D Trend

Price £22,995; 0-62mph 12.7sec; Top speed 115mph; Economy 62.8mpg; CO2 119g/km; Kerb weight tbc; Engine 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power 108bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 199lb ft at 1750-2250rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Oilburner 10 April 2014


True, Toyota have had to recall a stupid number of cars. OTOH, the cars themselves are still more reliable than average. So should Toyota be criticized for putting faults right?

Note how GM were aware of the ignition barrel fault for a long time, and did their best to ignore it for as long as possible... What was that? 2.5 million cars roughly?

Only a couple of days ago Ford had to recall about 0.5 million vehicles in North America, not their first biggie either. And going back a bit, the Ford Pinto saga could have been the end of Ford, thanks to their callous attitude to customers lives.

Literally yesterday, VW had to stop 25,000 cars being delivered in the US due to faults on brand new cars. Not forgetting the 1.6 million cars that had to come back due to DSG faults, with many more probably swept under the carpet.

And don't forget the mess Mitsubishi had after being found out with several hidden safety faults...

Not too long ago Volvo buried their head in the sand over ETM faults..

etc etc

They all have issues, it's just Toyota have given up trying to hide faults from view (and had a bad run, admittedly), and naturally get the stick because of their otherwise excellent reputation. Doesn't really tell you that much about the cars themselves.

The Apprentice 10 April 2014

I am sure its a faithful

I am sure its a faithful little run around, and I have fairly traditional tastes but even so the deathly dullness of something like this would be living in purgatory to me.

Its a wonder they don't get involved in accidents more often, people are likely to pull out in front of them assuming the owner has indicated they have lost the will to live already.

kendwilcox47 10 April 2014


I wonder how long it will be before this car has a recall?,i understand since 2011 25 million
cars have been recalled.I often wonder how they manage to sell any cars at all,still I am sure
some fools will continue to buy Toyota.
catnip 9 April 2014

A whole paragraph on the

A whole paragraph on the blacked out D-pillar? I don't remember so many words being devoted to the equally unsuccessful and silly looking Jaguar XJ and Sportbrake versions.
dukebox9reg 10 April 2014

catnip wrote:A whole

catnip wrote:

A whole paragraph on the blacked out D-pillar? I don't remember so many words being devoted to the equally unsuccessful and silly looking Jaguar XJ and Sportbrake versions.

At least on the Jag it's integrated. I've seen a Yaris 'Trend' and its a cheap bit of sticky back plastic stuck on the C-Pillar. Naff is not an overstatement.

Fully aware these exist but didn't even bother looking when we've ended up with the Picasso, that Yaris put me off completely.

Just done a round trip to Germany with a car full in the wifes 1.6 115bhp Picasso. Averaged 53mpg over the week and will manage 70 when really trying so still better than this BMW unit.