By Mike Torpey on 2011-07-30 - 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-S 1.3 T
SMALL, spacious and smart are the buzzwords from Toyota as the Japanese company re-enters a mini-MPV market it helped create a decade ago with the Yaris Verso.
Toyota's latest model to hit the streets is the Verso-S, a car designed to showcase efficient use of space plus outstanding fuel economy.
It's a compact multi-purpose vehicle that can genuinely claim to possess that much-abused phrase the Tardis factor.
At less than four metres long it is the shortest car of its type yet still manages to deliver top notch space for five passengers and their luggage.
Some of that space comes courtesy of a streamlined front seat and door panel design, giving extra headroom up front and knee room in the back, while another trick has been to raise the hip points to allow better visibility and make it easier to get in and out of the car.
The 60/40 split rear seats have a centre armrest plus one-touch fold flat mechanism and the seats can also be folded down from the boot.
And for extra convenience the top-hinged tailgate is cut into the rear bumper, allowing lip-free access to the double decker luggage area.
Private buyers are the principal target area for Toyota and ensuring serious value for money has been a prime consideration.
That's one of the reasons why the Verso-S, in this country at least, runs purely on petrol power via a lean-burn 1.3-litre engine. With the CVT automatic gearbox featured in the tested version it can return a handy 54.3 miles per gallon.
Refreshing for new models these days, the Toyota doesn't use a Start/Stop system - which can prove so frustrating for the driver and makes only a fractional difference to economy anyway - and low emissions of 120g/km mean the car is free from road tax in its first year and Â£30 a year after that.
With its wheels tucked into the corners the Verso-S has solid road-holding, feels quite agile and is well suited to city or suburban conditions thanks to its light steering and small turning circle - a boon for parking in tight spots.
The car performs adequately on faster roads too, though being honest it could do with a bit more punch.
Both trim grades - TR and T Spirit - come with a multimedia system that marks a first in mini-MPVs. It has a six-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dash with colour reversing camera plus controls for the radio, CD player, i-Pod connections and Bluetooth.
Toyota Verso-S 1.3 T Spirit
Mechanical: 98bhp, 1,329cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 103mph
0-62mph: 13.7 seconds
Combined MPG: 54.3
Insurance Group: 8
C02 emissions: 120g/km
Bik rating: 10%
Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles
Choose from one or more of the options to find the car for you.
Based on your search find the dealership
nearest to you.