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How much? £16,895
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1329cc 16v four-cylinder, 98bhp @ 6000rpm, 92lb ft @ 4000rpm
Transmission: CVT, front-wheel drive
Performance: 13.7sec 0-62mph, 103mph, 54.3mpg, 120g/km CO2
How heavy / made of? 1070kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 3990/16951595
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 3 out of 53

Handling

Rated 3 out of 53

Performance

Rated 2 out of 52

Usability

Rated 4 out of 54

Feelgood factor

Rated 3 out of 53

Readers' rating

Rated 3 out of 53

Toyota Verso-S (2011) CAR review

By Stephen Worthy

First Drives

21 March 2011 15:00

It’s 11 years since Toyota was at the vanguard of the mini-MPV segment with the launch of the Yaris Verso. Now, six years after the demise of the vehicle that came to be known as the ‘ice-cream van’, Toyota makes a long-awaited return to the sector with the Verso-S.

2011 Toyota Verso-S - return of the Toyota mini-MPV

The previous iteration that was sold in the UK – there was a Mk2 that was marketed only in Japan – notched up over 10,000 sales here. With the Verso-S now going up against rivals from the likes of Honda, Skoda and Vauxhall, the market has got a whole lot tougher for Toyota while it's been away. And with the most expensive variant retailing at £16,895, it’s not the cheapest of that little cabal either.  

Puffing up that hill…

Many of the CAR staff live in the ironing-board flat Fens. The bad news for Toyota? The Verso-S road test has been handed to a correspondent who lives at the bottom of one of North London’s hills – because if there is one thing the CVT autobox our model came with does not like, then it’s gradients.

Setting off up Mill Hill (a little over 400 feet above sea level, so hardly Scafell Pike) is an unnerving experience. It sounds like every single corpuscle, each minute subdivision of capacity in its 1.33-litre petrol engine is being strained. The same goes for (any attempt at) rapid acceleration onto a motorway. Is that banshee wail the engine screaming in agony or just you as a Norbert Dentressangle 10-wheel artic bears down on your rear end? Yes, once the Verso S has slogged its way up to motorway speed it sits there comfortably enough, but you’ve got to question the choice – if you can call it that – of just one, seemingly underpowered, engine ‘option’.

You mean there’s no diesel?

Nope. Our fellow European citizens across the Channel have the option of a 1.4 diesel, but not here. It’s that 1.33-litre petrol or nothing – although there’s a six-speed manual 'box if you don’t fancy the auto – because the added premium (around £1000), fuel costs, and no road tax savings over the petrol led to Toyota deciding not to bother offering UK customers an oil-burner.

Isn’t it just a four-door iQ?

You can argue that. Shared engine apart, styling-wise it pulls off the same cunning trick of mixing curves with angularity, with not dissimilar respective rear ends. The Verso-S does feel spacious even for six-footers, however, a feeling that’s heightened by that current MPV must-have, the panoramic sunroof (standard in T-Spirit trim). This one is a 1.2 metre-long whopper. As Toyota is boasting that the Verso-S is the shortest MPV on the market, that’s quite a sizeable percentage of roof.

Inside, it’s all resolutely, crushingly Japanese. Switchgear is chunky to touch and clunky to operate; there’s an odd array of dashboard surfaces too, the most offensive of which is a pinstriped two-tone outing across the instrument binnacle which looks like it was cribbed from a Mr Buyrite suit pattern. Compared to rivals, it feels rather down-at-heel.

The new Toyota Touch Multimedia System looks set to be a winner. Fitted as standard, it’s a touchscreen affair that’s easy to navigate (although ironically, we couldn’t navigate on this vehicle as sat-nav isn’t rolled out until May), and eschews much of the car industry’s love for convolution in favour of simplicity. It took seconds to set up the Bluetooth for phone operation and wireless music streaming. Hit reverse and it also turns into the screen for a very good parking camera.

With these mini-MPVs, it’s what’s inside that counts, yeah?

Well, the Verso-S misses a trick in the practicality states by not having sliding rear seats to improve luggage space, but it certainly isn’t cramped in the back. Legroom is decent up front too, while the boot offers a variable floor, meaning it can increase to 429 litres, besting the Honda Jazz (399 litres) and Vauxhall Meriva (397 litres). Ride is decent, even erring a little on the firm side in urban conditions, while steering is direct and precise and delivered through an uncommonly sporty-looking steering wheel, complete with a flat Audi RS4-style bottom section. Trust us, this is where the relationship between the words ‘sporty’ and ‘Verso-S’ end.

Verdict

There’s a bloody fight raging on out there in the mini-MPV sector, and the reason is choice. Those looking to purchase from this segment may just base their verdict on finance in this chastened times. If that’s the case, the Verso S is on a bit of a sticky wicket. Touching £17k for the T-Spirit with auto box, it’s over £1000 more than the equivalent Jazz. And yet – infuriating powertrain aside – the Verso-S feels spacious, comfortable and reassuringly inoffensive. And for the more mature driver, that’s exactly what they’re looking for.

>> Click 'Add your comment' below and let us know what you think of the Toyota Verso-S

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Sstripey

Sstripey says

RE: Toyota Verso-S (2011) CAR review

 We have a Toyota Veris Verso (2000) and have found it to be fantastic.  The amount of stuff you can get in there is astonishing, and it drives well and comfortably.  It's a lot quieter than the Yaris of the same date.

It's getting old, and has done 135000 miles, and had to have its first new battery at the end of 2012.  Questions were raised in the house as to its long-term viability, as there was some subsidiary evidence in higher than normal maintenance expenses this year - all perfectly normal things, like brake joints, and bits for suspension and steering.  

We had noticed the Verso-S on a service visit for the Yaris Verso in 2011, and so thought we might as well investigate it in late 2012.  

Things have moved on quite a bit in nearly 13 years!  we loved the extra toys on it, such as the panoramic roof with a slide underneath it for security and the reversing camera.  The six-speed gearbox was as smooth as we had come to expect, and the atmosphere inside was similarly quiet - not inaudible, but it was easy to hold a conversation without having to raise voices.

So on all the driving bits, this is a good car, and of course there are advantages in lowered running costs in the fuel economy and tax disk departments.  But on the area which made the Yaris Verso an extraordinary vehicle,  the Verso-S couldn't complete.  It's not as tall, so bicycle transport, to give one example, is very much compromised.  In the Yaris Verso, the bicycle stands upright, and just needs quick tethering with elastic hooks to any of the the many fastening points.  In the Verso-S a bike has to go flat, and so takes up much more floor room.

Our search for a worthy successor continues.  Toyota in Japan did bring out the Ractis, which looks as if it did the things that the Yaris Verso did, but the only way to get one of those is to have one imported.

The Verso-s is nice to drive, but it's too much of a car and not enough of an MPV.

 

 

 

15 January 2013 18:09

 

MG5Sport

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MG5Sport says

RE: Toyota Verso-S (2011) CAR review

How long is it going to take for toyota to build a car you want to buy and drive, not one you buy because of reliability, and fiancial smartness? In america, that's all americans do, buy a toyota cause it's so "reliable". Toyota, get your act together, or even little companies like MG and Roewe, or Avtovaz/Lada. 

25 March 2011 15:36

 

bertandnairobi

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bertandnairobi says

RE: Toyota Verso-S (2011) CAR review

I had another look at the interior. The dashboard is awkward and disjointed. It looks as if something is missing above the centre vents: the panel ends so suddenly. The silver, round base of the gear lever doesn´t match the rectangularity of the plinth underneath. Look closer: a round thing sits on a squarish thing. One or other of the shapes should have been changed to make it harmonious. The binnacle is cramped by the centre console and looks unrelated. It´s one of the worst dashboard designs I´ve seen in a long time. It´s neither wild and wierd like a Multipla or Honda Civic nor is it soullessly professional like a VW product. Apart from that I am sure it´s a brilliant car.

23 March 2011 07:35

 

nigel15

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nigel15 says

RE: Toyota Verso-S (2011) CAR review

Looks better than Jazz to me. In fact looks great for a utilitarian, modern and spacey car.

22 March 2011 23:49

 

Sam the Eagle

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Sam the Eagle says

RE: Toyota Verso-S (2011) CAR review

yes it looks quite a lot like the Jazz. Not a bad thing actually - the proportions are good and there's nothing fussy about the lines. I quite like it. Shame about the rest.

 

 

22 March 2011 21:45

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