First DriveImpressive engine and mature ride and handling, but a bit sombre and short on usual MPV practicality
First DriveNew diesel engine is impressively refined, but the Verso remains less spacious and practical than its main rivals in this sector
What is it?
This is the Toyota Verso 1.8 TR, the biggest-selling petrol-powered version of Toyota’s compact seven-seat MPV. However, like others of this ilk, it’s not so compact any more. The rearmost seats are for kids and small adults only and none of them come out, but they all fold flat without too much effort.
The Toyota Verso would be a completely ordinary-looking people carrier were it not for novel creases in the flanks of its bodywork - they run from the base of the front bumper and rise through the lower portions of the doors before shooting skywards towards the D-pillar in the tailgate in an elegant and distinctive swoop. The monochromatic cabin is lifted by the bold sculpting of the dashboard, but Citroen’s C4 Picasso cabin is a more diverting place to sit.
What’s it like?
The 145bhp 1.8 in the Toyota Verso is called V-matic to indicate valve timing varied for both lift and duration. This efficiency enhancement earns the engine an ‘Optimal Drive’ label – Toyota-speak for greener efficiency. The Toyota Verso largely delivers on this promise, too, with the highest power output in the class, the lowest C02 emissions, the best fuel consumption and a 10.4sec 0-60mph time. That’s a fair sprint, but the torquey 1.4 TSI VW Touran motor is quicker.
Still, the Verso feels fairly brisk on the road, the engine pulling smoothly to 7000rpm, and its mid-range strong enough that you aren’t endlessly manipulating the six-speed ’box. For a biggish bus, the 1.8 gets around corners with moderate aplomb, though understeer always lurks.
More important for most, of course, will be the Verso’s versatility and convenience. It scores highly, with big doors and generous space aboard its sliding, reclining middle row of seats. The jump seats in the rear are adequate for kids and tolerable for adults over short journeys. However, the load deck is high, seats folded, and the boot isn’t especially big with them up either.
Interesting features include the biggest panoramic roof in the class and a parking camera built into the rear-view mirror, but these are both the preserve of the top-of-the range T Spirit.
Should I buy one?
Like many mainstream Toyotas, the Verso makes a sound, sober choice. It promises the lowest running costs in its class, it has Toyota’s legendary dependability, it’s pretty civilised and in 1.8-litre form acquits itself well on the road. Its seats are relatively easy to manipulate, and it’s a relatively civilised high-speed cruiser.
However, it’s not as commodious as it might be given its size, its cabin is dull and it’s not brilliantly equipped for the price.