TOYOTA rarely puts a foot wrong in the evolution of its products, a case proven with its Verso model.
This compact MPV is designed and engineered in Europe and joins the Auris in Toyota's renewed drive forwards in the highly competitive compact/family car market.
It is in this area that customer demands are at their most intense. Rest on your laurels here and things get very gloomy indeed.
But the latest Verso is one of the bright stars. As with each previous generation of the model, it has been tailored to meet the increasingly varied requirements of customers.
Since the original Verso was launched in 2002, more than 700,000 have been sold in Europe; in the UK the total is in excess of 52,000.
This model majors on fundamental quality, durability, reliability and value for money. A spacious interior within compact exterior dimensions is the order of the day with Toyota's Easy Flat folding rear seat system to provide the versatility demanded of a vehicle in this category.
There are three engine options, 1.6 and 1.8 petrol and a 1.6 diesel.
This car, a 1.6 ValveMatic petrol weighed in at £20,300 and was a very smooth performer for what is the entry power option.
With 115mph on tap and a 0-62mph sprint of 11.7 seconds it is no slouch as a family car but top marks have to go to the engine and six-speed manual gearbox combination which delivers a silky driving experience.
For a 1.6 petrol economy is not too bad with 42.8mpg on the combined cycle with a CO2 emissions readout of 154g/km.
The Verso displays Toyota's new design language and a clear family identity that links it closely with the Auris.
The Verso's multimedia package is the latest-generation Toyota Touch 2 system. Providing easy touchscreen operation it features Bluetooth, rear-view camera and USB connectivity and benefits from a sharper, brighter display.
The more sophisticated Toyota Touch 2 with Go system which was fitted as an option ramps up the feature content with a new navigation screen design, use of TomTom HD real-time traffic information to deliver detour prompts to avoid hold-ups, and new connected services to gain better journey information. These include access to Google Street View and Panoramio, a first from a high-volume manufacturer.
The fold-flat seats give fore than thirty seating and load carrying combinations making this one of the most versatile and easy tolive withMPVs around.
The Verso features what is known as a Smart Wave Dynamism dashboard design, which raises the cabin styling above the conventional forms of a traditional MPV.
The ergonomic approach includes placing the gear lever as close as possible to the steering wheel, while the strong, vertical definition of the centre console marks a clear division between the functionality of the driver's zone and the relaxed, comfortable environment around the front passenger area.
The two zones are connected by a crisp wave line that runs the width of the fascia, taking in the instrument binnacle, which is offset to maximise the driver's view of the road ahead, while remaining in his or her field of vision.
One the road, improvements in steering feel and response - achieved through making the bodyshell more rigid - are very noticeable, giving the Verso almost sports saloon handling.