Toyota Verso Excel

1.6 D-4D

Toyota Verso, front static 2
Toyota Verso, front static
Toyota Verso, side static
Toyota Verso, rear static
Toyota Verso, dashboard
Toyota Verso, seats down
Toyota Verso, third row seats
Toyota Verso, boot

THE Verso is Japanese group Toyota's stylish seven-seater people carrier - but under the skin of the 1.6-litre D4D model beats a German heart.

Because Toyota, needing a decent diesel to help it compete with pushy rivals, skipped the time-consuming process of designing a top-notch oil burner and turned to BMW for the solution.

Now the Japanese motor manufacturer is more than capable of producing class-leading powerplants without any help - its hybrid engine technology being a case in point.

But importing the latest diesel technology and linking it to a precise six-speed manual gearbox allows customer demand to be satisfied immediately rather than letting sales slide by.

That's not to say there has been no input from Toyota as it has nudged and nurdled the unit - which is replacing the current two-litre D-4D - to meet its requirements for the Verso.

So there are some impressive stats such as average fuel consumption north of 60mpg, a nippy 0-62mph time for such a big car and tax-limiting carbon dioxide emissions.

The smoothness of the oil burner is mirrored by the ride and handling which make this people carrier a pleasure to drive.

It cruises along motorways with revamped springs and suspension assuring comfort while the light steering makes it easy to park when you arrive at your destination. On more demanding sections of road the car offers plenty of grip and body roll is well controlled.

Its easy to get comfortable behind the multi-function steering wheel with the elevated driving position offering a great view of the motoring chaos around you.

There is one bugbear to driving the Verso though and it is the well-intentioned but nevertheless annoying voice that informs you the moment you go over the speed limit.

The car also beeps a warning when speed cameras are approaching, which is frankly annoying when you are on a modern speed camera controlled motorway.

Otherwise the cabin is bright, airy and a pleasure to spend time in.

Toyota's Easy Flat system offers a bewildering 32 different ways of setting up the interior.

Turning the car from a five to seven-seater is a cinch with the rear two seats folding flat into the floor when not required.

The second row of three individual seats slide back and forwards so allowing for more luggage or leg room as required.

The front five seats are adult-friendly but I would only want children to be spending any length of time in the rear two.

Boot space is only 155 litres in this configuration, but expands to 440 litres in five-seat mode easily accommodating a family's weekly visit to the supermarket.

There are also plenty of cubby holes dotted around the cabin with the Verso sporting a natty double-level glovebox and a large dumping ground for odds and sods in a centre console bin. Door pockets and cup holders also offer practical solutions to storage problems.

The range-topping Excel model is predictably well equipped with the latest Toyota Touch 2 multimedia system a real highlight. The six-inch colour screen offers amazing clarity and includes a clever satellite navigation unit which not only warns of congestion but also provides alternative routes and an estimate of the delay.

A rear-view camera is also incorporated as is connectivity to mobile music technology via Bluetooth or USB.

The dashboard dials are angled towards the driver giving a cockpit feel to proceedings.

The exterior is surprisingly sleek for something able to carry seven with ‘Keen Look' design language, which debuted on the Auris, including a neat grille and bumper plus LED headlights.

Toyota ensure the Verso is competitively priced with the five-seater entry-level Active getting the ball rolling at £17,765 on up to £23,995 for the flagship model I drove.

Like every Toyota model, the people carrier comes with a five-year/100,000-mile warranty giving motoring peace of mind - while a plethora of airbags plus electronic stability control are fitted as standard allaying any safety concerns.


Toyota Verso Excel 1.6 D-4D

Price: £23,995

Mechanical: 145bhp, 1,598cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 115mph

0-62mph: 12.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 62.8

Insurance Group: 14

C02 emissions: 119g/km

Bik rating: 18%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles


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