The new Toyota Aygo is chasing a new level of customization, like the Peugeot 108 and the Citroen C1 that it shares it platform and mechanicals with.
Like it? The bold face of the Aygo is shows off the brash new hatch that’s chasing a younger audience that its French counterparts, with an interchangeable ‘X’ face that, side strakes and rear diffuser. The intention, says Toyota, is to give the Aygo a wide strong stance, a level of personalization all while maintaining its lithe, city friendly dimensions – what it calls ‘evolution of Aygoness’. Yup.
Why has Toyota put so much effort into the look of the Aygo?
This is a crucial car for Toyota – 65% of Aygo buyers go on to purchase another Toyota, so it’s an entrée to what the brand can offer. And of course, it has to entice buyers not just from the C1 and 108, but cars like the VW Up. ‘Astro Boy was one of the main inspirations in the design concept of the new the Aygo,’ says chief designer, Nakamura-san. ‘He is drawn in a simple way but is very recognisable.’
You won’t mistake the Aygo for the C1 or 108. The Aygo’s newfound level of customisation starts with that in-ya-face X, which dominates the nose and crosses the A-pillar to give the Aygo a wider stance. At the rear, there’s an interchangable diffuser-type panel, too, with high vertical lights adding to that muscled-up, larger presence. Interchangeable side strakes are on offered, as well, combined with contrasting paint for the alloy wheels and unique colour combos for your own, um, Aygoness.
Looks slightly bigger
The new Aygo is a mere 25mm longer than before, but it’s still only 3455mm long. ‘We don’t want to just keep growing the car,’ says Aygo’s UK product manager, Alan Barratt. There’s still an emphasis on passenger space, though. Instead of the fold-back roof on the 108 and C1, Toyota’s added some muscle: spot that double-bubble roof. ‘The idea of the double bubble is to allow the roof lining to follow the roof and give the maximum interior space with a small exterior dimensions,' Aygo chief designer, Nakamura. The overall theme is of a geometric exterior being pressured by an organic interior – think of an egg pushing out of a tissue box, and that’s what Nakamura means.
What about the interior?
Inside, then, the cabin’s been decluttered for a more spacious feeling. ‘We reexamined the basic proportions of the interior, and tried to keep the number of components to a minimum,’ Nakamura says, with the centre cluster, for instance, moved inward by 50mm for a greater sense of openness. You can also customise the inside, too, with the smartphone-like ease of clicking on and clicking off the dash garnish, the gear lever surrounds and more of the ‘playfulness’ Toyota says is part of the Aygo theme in the graphics: for instance, Nakamura points out that the digital temp gauge will ice up when its cold, or show steam in hot weather. Cute.
Haven’t we heard all of this before, from the Mini and the Vauxhall Adam?
Sure, says Toyota, but there’s a crucial difference: the execution. With rivals, says Toyota, customers rarely get their first choice. ‘Our retailers are telling is that people are coming in and wanting to customize their cars,’ says Barratt. ‘The issue is price and the issue is availability. If you can fix those things… the right products, the right choices and it’s affordable, we think we’ve cracked it.’
To ‘crack it’, Toyota will offer customization in only one trim line, called ‘X-play’, and keep up to 15,000 cars in an inventory once they’ve left the Czech factory in which they’re built. Peugeot and Citroen won’t do the same for 108 and C1. Further Aygo customization can be done at the dealer, suggests Barratt.
What about under all that colour and bravado?
Two three-cylinder 1.0-litre engines will be offered at launch, in 68bhp guise, with a five-speed manual or five-speed auto transmission. Toyota hasn’t release mpg figures, but based on the French cars’ there should be an Aygo that claims better-than 65.7mpg and around 82g/km of CO2.
The Aygo is expected to have a slightly higher list price than the C1 and 108, yet that’s will still only around £9000 when it hits showrooms in mid 2014.