NOT so long ago choosing a car was simple.
If you had a big family and plenty of dosh you bought a large saloon or an estate car.
Those who were strapped for cash forked out for a small saloon and squeezed everyone in...or didn't bother and caught the bus.
A relatively few ‘Flash Harrys' who were single went for a racy sports car.
Then along came the hatchback in the Sixties and later the MPV was introduced. Within a couple of decades the old structure had crumbled and manufacturers and motorists were searching for a niche car that suited their own particularly requirements.
MPVs or people carriers have gone from strength to strength since the first pathfinders from Renault (Espace) and Toyota (Previa) and the breed went on to spawn the mini-MPV.
One of the newest models to hit the showrooms is the Toyota Verso-S, the shortest vehicle in its class which aims to combine Tardis-like dimensions with medium car-size refinement and luxury.
A development of the original Yaris Verso a decade ago, it offers room for five passengers and plenty of luggage space - 429 litres to be exact. At a touch of a button the rear seats fold flat into the floor and the cargo area is increased to 1,388 litres.
Priced at £16,895 for the luxury T Spirit version, it comes with a full length glass panoramic roof, electric front and rear windows, Bluetooth, reversing camera and air con. So, equipment levels are more than generous and the standard of trim is more closely associated with a prestige model.
Beneath the little snub bonnet is a 1,329cc VVT-i engine that delivers a reasonable 98bhp through the front wheels.
This car was fitted with Multidrive CVT automatic transmission, although a six-speed manual is also available. The automatic tends to fit the character of the Verso-S which majors on ease of driving rather than sportiness.
Surprisingly the CVT pack comes with a ‘sport' button which sharpens responses and paddle-change levers on the steering wheel.
This Grand Prix spin-off seems somewhat incongruous in a family runabout - mind you, no-one forces you to use the paddles.
Top speed and acceleration are unlikely to be Verso buyers top priority, but for the record it reaches 62mph in a modest 13.7 seconds and top speed is 103mph.
The continuous variable transmission means you are never without the right ratio, but it tends to reduce refinement because the engine always seems to be on the edge of a gear change.
This aspect aside, the Verso-S is very composed and generally quiet with a complete absence of rattles or squeaks. Its rigid structure feels like it is hewn from solid rock which makes for a good ride and sure roadholding.
Economy is aided both by the efficient transmission and weight saving measures which make it the lightest car it its sector.
The official average economy is listed as 54.3mpg and emissions are 120g/km. In everyday usage most owners will manage above 45mpg - my own average was 47.5mpg.