Toyota’s updated Verso MPV gains a BMW 1.6-litre diesel engine. We drove it.
When: February 2014
Where: Nice, France
What: 2014 Toyota Verso with new 1.6 D-4D engine
Occasion: International first drive
Overall rating: 3.5/5
Toyota’s Verso is a more desirable product than it ever has been before, with sharper looks as well as a superb new BMW-derived diesel engine. However its lack of both interior space and dynamic sparkle make it just behind the class leaders.
Model tested: Toyota Verso 1.6 D-4D
Pricing: expected to start at about €25,000
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, seven-seat MPV
Rivals: Ford S-Max, Peugeot 5008, Renault Grand Scenic
CO2 emissions: 119g/km (Band A4, €200 per year)
Combined economy: 62.8mpg (4.5 litres/100km)
Top speed: 185km/h
-100km/h: 12.7 seconds
Power: 112hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 270Nm at 1,750- to 2,250rpm
Within the Metal: 4/5
Toyota refreshed the Verso last year and features gone from an anonymous box to something with a bit of visual clout. If not very striking, the front end treatment methods are particularly good, while the back is at least neat. As seven-seat MPVs go, it comes across as surprisingly small on first acquaintance, and that is a feeling that carries over inside.
Because the Verso is not really big enough to get a seven-seater. It’s more of a 5 2. The back two seats actually are for only the littlest of children, along with them in position there’s not much of a boot for clobber. The three separately-adjustable seats on the middle row are spacious enough, there’s loads of room in the front where there are clever storage spaces everywhere. In terms of finish and fit, it’s not bad in the Verso either, but you will still find one or two plastics and ergonomics that feel a little behind the days.
Driving it: 3.5/5
The large talking point is the new BMW-derived 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine, which suggests the demise of the old 2. D-4D unit. The brand new 1.6 is 20kg lighter than its predecessor, it’s eight per cent better on fuel at 62.8mpg combined, 10g/km cleaner for CO2 emissions at 119g/km, yet still makes 112hp and 270Nm – comparing favourably enough with the outgoing 2.0’s 309Nm and 124hp. You can expect to check this out engine in all manner of other Toyota products in the months ahead.
Which downsizing is actually the best news for the Verso, as the engine is excellent. It never struggles in this size Toyota and body has reengineered various items – such as the engine mounts, the dual-mass flywheel, its fuel, cooling and intake systems, and even the six-speed manual driveshafts and gearbox too – to ensure the engine is responsive, smooth, quiet and economical. The Japanese carmaker has certainly hit all of its marks.
It has also been designed to rev more, with one engineer telling us it can easily hit 70mph in third gear, making it very simple to join motorways. Putting a 5,000rpm redline on the car was an odd move, considering the engine has no intention of ever getting there, though that’s true up to a point – it’s responsive low down and linear to 4,000rpm peak power. Despite getting a bit throaty if you do extend it, most of the time the 1.6 is admirably hushed and placid throughout, as a big plus.
Will offer little on the mums and dads who enjoy a bit of a back road blast every once in a while, on those rare times when the kids happen to be fobbed off and away to someone else, although elsewhere, the Verso is really a perfectly pleasant enough thing to drive. It’s not that we expect the Verso to become a dynamic firecracker, it’s that other cars in this segment – most notably the Ford S-Max – have better-judged controls. The steering is very, very light and also the brakes have a huge amount of dead travel on top of the pedal before they begin to really bite. And even then, they’re adequate rather than capable. Not very tactile, although the manual gearbox is smooth enough, thanks to Toyota’s tweaks.
However, our driver-related grumbles are countered by the Verso’s ride and composure. It’s an utterly serene operator, limiting tyre roar and wind noise very well at most of the speeds, while the ride is incredibly good – perhaps the real crux in the matter, as well as the characteristic that can endear it to most buyers. It also returned around 48.7mpg on the very taxing mountain and city route that wasn’t in any respect conducive to fuel economy, so a quoted 62.8mpg combined doesn’t seem too far-fetched.
Whatever you get for your Money:
We’re going to have to leave this section mostly blank right now, as it’s pure guesswork. We can’t imagine that Toyota will charge more to the 1.6-litre engine than it does to the 2. so the most we expect the newest version to start from is €25,000. It will hopefully be less thanks to lower VRT and we presume it’ll soon end up being the best seller, possibly being offered in Terra, Aura and Luna SkyView trim levels.
The Verso is surely an entirely Toyota Europe-created machine – it really is engineered, built and designed here. Those European sensibilities reflect the fact this is the MPV’s key market battleground, and what it means is the car is better designed for our tastes than previous offerings from Toyota.
The 1.6-litre engine is a great accessory for the refreshed Toyota it’s and Verso an excellent car, with much more appeal than its predecessor. There’s no glaring reason why you shouldn’t acquire one, given it seems pretty good, includes a high level of refinement at most speeds, must be very reliable and looks being as economical as claimed. It’s even fairly well-equipped and affordable too. It is actually on the small side for a seven-seat MPV and with the sharper-driving S-Max, bigger Citroen C4 Grand Picasso and more stylish Opel Zafira Tourer in its particular pond, the Verso is likely to remain a pragmatic alternative to more desirable machines, since the Toyota just lacks that extra bit of vivacity to set it among the class front-runners. However, the pricing determines where it sits.