We took “our” Aygo to Paris, to the charming 7th Arrondissement, Rive Gauche, and were not disturbed by the “Yellow Vests”, who had then their first weekend of demo’s in Paris… a lot of asian people admired the Aygo: we parked it here in front of a Korean restaurant!
We told you already many times in these columns: (sub)compact cars are so cleverly designed and built, that they are stunning examples of what (modern) automobiles can do, and they offer unique qualities when it comes to economy, agility, performance and sheer driving pleasure. When one also considers that they cost and depreciate less than bigger cars, then you will agree with us that one is well advised to take a (very) close look at them. One of these formidable cars is the Toyota Aygo. It has been with us since 2005, but has been updated in 2008 and 2012, and now its iconic X design has been made more three-dimensional, to add still more liveliness and character to the car. But also the interior and the mechanics have been revised. Just read on…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Developing the latest generation of the Aygo was no small task, as the outgoing model was still quite popular. But of course, competition in the A segment is fierce, and so the Aygo was further improved. Not only the design was re-evaluated, the car was made quieter, more fun to drive and even more economical. Indeed, the 3 cylinder engine is further improved, and is now more than ever a state of the art unit indeed. We drove it during our test on a weekend trip to Paris, and it proved to be superbly up to this task, combining excellent high speed cruising abilities with uncanny urban agility.
Bolder personality both inside and out…
The new three-dimensional frontal graphic now gives the car a completely new look, whilst remaining unmistakably an AYGO. New front and rear LED signatures and bolder wheel designs enhance the exterior originality even further.
In the cabin the materials have been upgraded and have a better quality feel. A new multimedia unit has been adopted, featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for seamless smartphone integration.
Needless to say we just loved this Aygo. The four doors are oh so practical, all the handles and knobs are logically placed and self explaining, and yes, one feels at home in this Aygo within the proverbial few minutes. We liked the revised instrumentation, the three-dimensional ‘turbine’ design of the combimeter and all the features of the multimedia and infotainment system.
The entry Display Audio multimedia system uses a 7” full-colour touch screen fully integrated within the instrument panel, with a rear view camera fitted as standard. The main menu has a clear, 5 icon structure, offering at-a-glance identification of all functions.
Driving pleasure rediscovered
Sliding behind the wheel, a good seating position is soon found. The 998 cc three cylinder unit jumps eagerly to life. It needs a bit of throttle when cold, as the bottom gears are quite long, which is of course good for consumption, but not so good for driveability.
Yet at low revs, the engine has sufficient pulling power, and Toyota engineers have adapted the torque characteristics of the engine somewhat, offering more puling power at (very) low revs, with peak torque being slightly lower. It needs some practice to find the right balance to avoid the engine revving up too high or nearly stalling when driving away, but soon one has the hack of it.
The unit offers great docility and is almost noiseless at revs below say 2000 rpm, and if one keeps revs down and drives along with the urban traffic stream at small throttle openings, consumption below 6 liters in tightest urban stop and go traffic is easily achieved. Second gear is ideally suited for cruising along at 30 kmh, and enables the engine to roar away with beautiful staccato to 70 km/h when you have to accelerate to join the traffic stream of the city boulevard or périférique. Well done, gentlemen at the drawing board. This engine is indeed state of the art: the 12-valve, DOHC, Dual VVT-i engine is now Euro 6.2 compliant. The cylinder head benefits from a new dual fuel injector system, enhancing combustion efficiency. The shape of the intake port has been changed to achieve optimum intake tumble flow.
The shape of the exhaust port has been changed to increase its size, decreasing pressure within the exhaust manifold. A VVT mechanism has been added to the exhaust camshaft, improving fuel efficiency and exhaust gas performance. Furthermore, the optimization of the valve spring characteristics and the addition of a diamond-like carbon coating to the valve lifter reduce friction to further enhance fuel economy. Wow!
The feast continues at higher revs; the engine is then clearly audible, emits a sporting sound, but never gets obtrusive. The engine develops its 53 kW/72 DIN HP at 6000 rpm, and doesn’t run out of breath at these higher revs: its torque curve remains high at these revs, and offers its maximum value of 93 Nm at 4,400 rpm.
So for maximum performance, it is perfectly ok to rev it high up through the gears, resulting in zippy liveliness: 13,8 seconds to 100 km/h, top speed 160 km/h. On the motorway or Autoroutes, the well chosen fifth gear will let the Aygo cruise along with utmost ease at 130 km/h, and fuel economy at these speeds is still warranted at anything around 5,5 liters/100 km and lower.
The rear view camera is a very useful asset…
The standard version achieves a fuel consumption of just 4.1 l/100 km and CO2 emissions of only 93 g/km.
Is the Aygo a good Gran Turismo Cruiser? You bet, and noise levels in the pleasant, cozy and compact cabin are sufficiently low to allow a relaxed conversation and/or listening to Radio Classique…
The quality of DAB/FM receiver has to be applauded here too. On the FM band, the receiver “follows” or tracks the chosen station impeccably, as we noticed when listening to Radio Classique or France Musique throughout the French Picardie en route to or from “la ville lumière”, and last but not least in the Paris streets!
Urban and motorway steadiness and comfort
Besides the truly great mechanical qualities, the suspension and chassis in these (sub)compact cars is also something where manufacturers in this segment really focus on. And in this respect, the Aygo also truly delivers.
The suspension is quite comfortable, copes beautifully with potholed urban pavés, and yet is utterly stable at high speeds, and offers on top of that excellent, predictable handling. It can be driven with a sporting mood over winding roads, never being out of place or stressed. It offers a feeling of security and stability on even the most rainy, wind-swept secondary roads, Nationales or Autoroutes, also when driven at speed.
On the return trip from Paris, we stopped at the open place where the WW I armistice was signed in the forest of Compiègne…
The same can be said for braking stability and overall grip. The Aygo remains sure-footed all the way. Cabin space is sufficient, and on the rear seats also adults can enjoy adequate legroom. The four door arrangement is a big practical advantage for young families with children, toddlers and babies.
The boot space can be enlarged of course with foldable backrests, and has a standard volume of 168 l.
A formidable (sub)compact car with tons of talent and qualities. It has a distinct personality on top of it, whisks you through town and is a pleasure to drive with spirit on winding roads, and last but not least is fit for any Gran Turismo trip. Its state of the art engine is sporting and frugal, fully fit for a “green” world which we all want for the future.
Add to this Toyota quality and workmanship, low service costs and longevity, and you understand fully that we are ready to go (again)with this Aygo. Indeed, we would like to test also the Aygo with the x-shift, the automated manual transmission, and see how this copes with today’s traffic… Stay tuned!
Hans Knol ten Bensel