Launch Drive: 2015 Toyota Aygo

Launch Drive: 2015 Toyota Aygo

As the world evolves, so do the tools we use that make our lives easier.

One of the benefits of modern society is that technology —driven by creative thinkers watching and analysing our changing needs — provides us with solutions almost as soon as problems or requirements appear.

Moreover, consumers are getting younger and young people react to our world differently. For example, they don’t necessarily insist on giant recording studio quality headphones —but will demand equipment that is affordable and produces the best-quality sound possible.

Those headphones won’t be the Rolls-Royces of sound transmitters, but will offer great quality despite the lower price, and will sweep the user away from their dark, difficult and stressful place. The supermini is no different. It might not waft or blast or crush as impressively as bigger, more expensive cars, but it zoots us about very effectively indeed.

The “supermini” was born of vehicle manufactures’ desire to provide something as cheap and efficient as the Mini —but with more space and features than Sir Alec Issigonis’s 1959 brainwave. Now these “subcompact” cars are common among first-time buyers and empty-nesters in love with the lower running costs and ease of use.

In 2005, Toyota, Citroën and Peugeot pooled their resources to produce one car that they then each tweaked to match their brands. So Toyota’s was called the Aygo, Citroën’s the C1 and Peugeot’s the 107. Now, still based on that one car, Toyota has produced a new Aygo. When it first appeared in South Africa in 2011, the Aygo didn’t set the sales boards alight —but that had less to do with the car and more to do with the limited appeal of city cars.

Still, within those limits, the Aygo did well, mainly because it was affordable and funky and it was a Toyota —although some believe the C1 and 107 had laid a solid foundation. From a styling point of view, the new Aygo is a noticeable departure from the lines and elements its previous incarnation shared with its Gallic siblings.

The front profile is dominated by the now trademark X motif grille design seen on other Toyotas. A double bubble roof-line is a particularly nice touch, and the rear is edgy and purposeful. The two-tone paint option is a fresh and fun addition, although the (cost-saving) hubcap-covered steel rims are the only boots available at this point.

The interior of the Aygo is cheerful without feeling cheap, and the car also boasts a touch-screen infotainment system, an onboard trip computer, airconditioning, power steering, electric front windows, a rev counter, and so on. Standard across the range are front and side airbags, ABS and brake assist. The seats are comfortable and covered with a modern, easy-clean material.

I’m not sure they’d give chiropractor-approved lumbar support for long-distance driving, but that isn’t what this car promises. Rear seat and boot space are limited but, again, considering the Aygo’s intended function, this is to be expected. Because the car is for city driving, you may not rate its performance —but you’d be wrong.

Although the engine is a normally aspirated 998cc three-cylinder motor, which only pushes out 51kW and 95Nm, the variable Valve timing technology helps shove this 885kg four-door hatch along very nicely. You need to push it up above 4 500rpm to get it to pull, but it doesn’t disappoint when you do.

Keep it tidy with the right foot and you’ll enjoy fuel economy figures fairly close to the biblically frugal (claimed) numbers of 4.4 litres per 100km. A highlight of the driving experience is the gruff, off-beat three-pot engine note. It always sounds as though it’s spoiling for a fight —a fight you’re bound to lose, but you’ll be chuckling all the same.

The entry level price of R138 900 is competitive considering the standard specs. An extra R1 000 gets you the two-tone optioned Aygo X-Play, which is great value. The first 1 000 cars sold will also be offered with a three-year/45 000km service plan. So hurry.

  • A spanner in the works if I may. It’s called the Suzuki Celerio. It’s a fair bit bigger in the boot and in the back seat —and it’s R10 000 cheaper. I think the Aygo goes better and looks better, but the Celerio is an option worth considering.

The Facts:
Engine: 998cc three-cylinders
Power: 51kW at 6 000r pm
Torque: 97Nm at 4300rpm
0-100km: 14.2sec
Top speed: 160km/h
Fuel consumption: 4.4l/100km
Price: R138 900

-Kieran Rennie