By Mike Torpey on 2010-07-25 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Toyota Verso D-4D T
SUMMER holidays are for kids but for the majority of families it seems there are two choices - go abroad and get burnt or stay at home and get wet.
A few years ago we decided to split the difference by heading to Ireland. Half sun half rain perhaps.
No such luck, we got comprehensively drenched, soaked to the bone every minute, every hour, every day, from the moment the first tent peg pierced the earth.
There was one saving grace, a Toyota Corolla Verso as it was named then; a compact family car with seven seats that carried us through such delights as the McGillycuddy Reeks and the Dingle Peninsula.
The word Corolla has now been dropped but the Toyota Verso remains a vehicle up there with the best as newer trendy MPVs and crossovers enter the fray.
It's a well designed and sensibly laid out seven-seater that looks stylish, drives extremely well, though the steering is on the light side, and comfortably lives up to the title of multi-purpose vehicle.
The Verso's interior is all new, with an improved Easy Flat-7 folding system for the five rear seats that is now even easier to operate - you just tug a tab.
On days when there's a full squad aboard it can be a balancing act to adjust the three rows of seats for optimum legroom. That said, the third row pair is strictly for kids who need less legroom anyway.
But with a maximum of five in the car you're talking pretty decent load space, which is all the time for buyers of the five-seater model which was added to the range last autumn.
Convenience is the name of the game here, with the likes of raised gearshift, overhead mirror for checking on the kids, keyless entry, airline-style trays on the front seat backs, rear window blinds and lots of stowage space inside.
The engine line-up comprises a revised version of Toyota's 2.0-litre D-4D diesel, a 2.2 D-CAT oil-burner and both 1.6 and 1,8-litre Valvematic petrol units.
The tested model with six-speed manual transmission housed the D-4D, which also benefits from what the Japanese manufacturer calls Toyota Optimal Drive technology, which has increased engine power by up to 20 per cent while reducing emissions and achieving better fuel economy.
It's a quiet, frugal and lively unit that gave me just short of 50 miles per gallon over the course of a week's mixed driving. The dynamics are excellent and ride quality very smooth.
But then Toyota pioneered the MPV concept with its Space Cruiser 25 years ago. The Verso, as its name suggests, is extremely versatile and way more than just a people shifter - even when rain puts the dampers on your summer.
Toyota Verso D-4D T Spirit
Mechanical: 125bhp, 1,998cc diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 115mph
0-62mph: 11.3 seconds
Combined MPG: 51.4
Insurance Group: 7
C02 emissions: 143g/km
Bik rating: 19%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles, 3yrs paint, 12yrs anti-rust
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