From £16,815
New diesel engines give Verso welcome power boost. 140 is bang on target but we’re not convinced 180 is worth extra

Our Verdict

Toyota Verso

Appealing to some, thanks to a fine balance of quality, space and refinement, but rarely thrilling to be in

29 September 2005

You can’t accuse Toyota of neglecting the Corolla Verso. Not content with replacing the original five-seat model with an all-new seven-seater little more than two years after its launch, it has now dropped its familiar 2.0 D-4D engine in favour of two new 2.2-litre units.They give the range a useful boost, because the previous 114bhp model was best described as workmanlike. That’s not an accusation you can level at the new D-4D 180, because its 175bhp engine (a version of which will feature in the new Lexus IS) makes it the most powerful compact MPV around.With a walloping 295lb ft of torque (now channelled through a six-speed manual gearbox) there’s enough mid-range thrust to shove the little ’uns forcefully back into their child seats. A wide spread of grunt makes it impressively flexible, too, while engine refinement has also improved, even if there’s still a gruff edge at higher revs.The performance is strong, but if you’re after a really sporty MPV it doesn’t hit the spot. The single trim level includes 17-inch alloys, privacy glass and a leather wheel, but you’d hardly notice, and it drives like any other Verso. It steers and handles well enough, but the forthcoming Vauxhall Zafira VXR will blow it into the weeds.At £20,900 it’s also expensive, and we can’t help thinking that you’d be better off saving your money and going for the other new model, the D4-D 140. Yes, you’ve only got 134bhp to play with, but it doesn’t feel substantially slower (as a 0-62mph time that’s just 0.6sec slower demonstrates), and you benefit from better fuel economy, lower emissions and prices that start at just £16,100. At that price the Corolla Verso makes a lot of sense.Paul Bailey

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