by Andy Enright
The Toyota Verso comes in for a bit of a mid-life facelift although those in the know will realise that not a whole lot needed doing to this very good seven-seat mini-MPV. A sharper look and better emissions for the diesel models are the headliners here.
Let’s face it, when it comes to choosing a mini-MPV, the way the car actually drives usually comes some way down the priority scale behind safety, convenience and the cost of ownership.
That’s why we’ve seen models that prioritise driver enjoyment, such as the Honda Stream, massively outsold by those that focused on more practical requirements, such as the Citroen Xsara Picasso.
This generation Verso doesn’t depart too radically from what went before in terms of engineering. There remains a choice of two petrol engines and two diesels.
Those looking for a petrol model choose between either a 1.6 or a 1.8-litre Valvematic engine.
Both are matched to a six-speed manual gearbox, with the 1.8 optionally available with a revised Multidrive CVT that has been tuned to give more of a stepped gear shift feel, with engine revs building in a way that’s more closely linked to vehicle acceleration.
Go for a diesel and most will opt for the 148bhp 2.0-litre D-4D engine, a powerplant that has been revised for better torque delivery at low revs and quieter running.
The 175bhp 2.2-litre D-CAT diesel engine is also available if you need a bit more punch. The towing capacity for all diesel-powered Versos has been increased by 200kg to 1,500kg.
Toyota has stiffened the chassis while at the same time tuning the front MacPherson strut and rear torsion beam suspension for a more comfortable ride.
The electric power steering has been adjusted for better feel and feedback and the cabin has been made quieter by adding extra sound damping material and also by developing smaller, more aerodynamic door mirrors.
This generation Verso first appeared on the UK market in 2009 and it looked a fresh design then.
The intervening years have seen ever bolder MPV styles hit the market and Toyota clearly felt that a slightly sharper look was required. The facelift chiefly addresses the usual easy-to-change targets of grille, lights and bumpers but it’s a neatly resolved job.
The overall aim has been to make the Verso look low, long and wide and there’s an eye-catching trapezoidal grille and a horizontal bar across the front that extends into the narrower headlight units. These lights now incorporate LED daytime running lights and, on upper spec versions, there are High-Intensity Discharge lights available.
The Verso remains refreshingly free of the sort of cheap attention-grabbing gimmicks so many other manufacturers resort to in order to claw in sales. There is nothing that will turn heads or provoke comment.
The styling updates are well-judged but the Verso’s shape is inherently low-key. So not a whole lot has really changed then? Not really. If you’ve driven a Verso, you’ll know that this is very good news.
Maybe not for Toyota, who really need to work to promote this car, but if you’re a potential buyer who knows what’s important in a mini-MPV, it’s largely as you were.
Yes, the vehicle rides a bit better, there’s less cabin noise at speed and emissions have been pegged back a bit, but the Verso formula remains the same; reliability, safety, versatility and honesty. Spend some time with one and you’ll realise why there aren’t many rivals that get close.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
CAR: Toyota Verso
PRICES: £18,000-£26,500 [est] - on the road
INSURANCE GROUPS: 12-19 [est]
CO2 EMISSIONS: 129-158g/km [est]
PERFORMANCE: [1.8] 0-60mph 10.8s / Max Speed 122mph [est]
FUEL CONSUMPTION: [1.8] (combined) 39.8mpg [est]
STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Nine airbags / ABS with EBD
WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: length/width/height mm 4440/1790/1620 [est]