Toyota Aygo x-press

Toyota Aygo, dynamic
Toyota Aygo, front
Toyota Aygo, front quarter
Toyota Aygo, rear quarter
Toyota Aygo, profile
Toyota Aygo, interior
Toyota Aygo, touchscreen

IT'S probably safe to say that you won't see Simon Cowell riding around in one any time soon but Toyota's Aygo is certainly aiming to bring the x-factor to the competitive city car market.

An x-shaped nose design is integral to this little motors' funky looks while a broad range of trim levels all bear x-themed names, the optional automatic transmission is called x-shift and the impressive infotainment system, when fitted, is dubbed x-touch.

All of this x-appeal is designed to attract younger drivers and is supplemented by a range of eye-popping colours including the Cyan Splash of our model, Red Pop and Magenta Fizz - although some of these are dependent on trim selection.

In fact, each different Aygo grade has its own identity with distinct interior colour schemes and fabrics, different front bumper treatments and, on all but entry-level versions, dedicated alloy wheels.

From the basic x car, to the mid-range x-play and the flagship x-clusiv, Toyota is targeting subtly different customers and budgets and seeking to broaden the Aygo's appeal - a tactic which has paid off with sales success.

Completing the range, x-trend and x-cite models also offer their own distinct styling touches while the x-press car we drove is one of just 2,500 made available in the UK and produced to mark the mid-life refresh of the second-generation Aygo last summer.

All versions are offered in five-door format, with the x version also available as a three-door, but whichever one you choose power comes from the same 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine typical of those frequently deployed in urban runarounds these days.

Mated with a compact and snappy five-speed manual transmission - an automatic can be specified on all but entry-level cars - this offers peppy performance on the urban roads for which the Aygo is built.

Responding well from low revs, and with accurate steering and nimble handling thrown into the mix, the Aygo is surprisingly satisfying to drive when zipping around in city traffic, accompanied by the characteristic thrum of the three-cylinder power plant.

Head out of town, though, and the consequences of Toyota's decision not to strap a turbocharger onto their little three-pot start to show.

Power drops away sharply at the top end and you'll need to hold on to lower gears for longer, or change down more often, to get yourself up to motorway speeds. Once there you will, admittedly, bob along quite nicely but it's hardly relaxed - and what was a characterful thrum around town is quite intrusive at 70mph.

On the upside, the game little engine delivers impressive fuel economy and, although the claimed average consumption of nearly 70 miles per gallon is ambitious in the real world, running costs will still be low, as will insurance and tax bills.

The ride is also pretty settled, with the suspension doing a good job of ironing out all but the worst imperfections in the road surface as well as keeping body roll to a minimum.

Inside, if you step up from the rather grey x trim level, the cabin does its best to live up to the dynamic and youthful looking exterior, with two tone upholstery and contrasting colours and finishes to many of the surfaces.

Space in the back - which, it's worth noting, has just two seats - is tight, though, and adults won't want to be there on longer journeys. That's the case in most city cars, however, and Toyota compensates with some decent kit if, again, you avoid the entry-level model.

Our car boasted an intuitive touchscreen multimedia infotainment system, digital radio, rearview camera, automatic air conditioning, automatic lights, rear privacy glass and electric front windows - although the pop-out rear windows were a bit of an eighties throwback I thought had been done away with.

FAST FACTS

Toyota Aygo x-press

Price: £12,630

Mechanical: 71bhp, 998cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 99mph

0-62mph: 13.8 seconds

Combined MPG:68.9

Insurance Group: 8

C02 emissions: 93g/km

Bik rating:19%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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