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.