Oh so ver so-tile: Toyota’s new Verso is billed as a sevenseater, but is it really as practical and good to drive as the company reckons? Jason Penny finds out
MPVs aren’t usually bought for their looks, and Toyota’s latest Verso is no exception. It’s bulbous and boxy, but the Japanese firm has made a few tweaks to the exterior to bring it up to date. Slightly longer and wider than its predecessor, the new model is safe and solid, which is likely to appeal to its target audience of family buyers.
Inside, it’s as spacious as they come, thanks to a high roof line and wide glass areas. The central instrument panel, dash-mounted gear stick and the abundance of storage areas mean that everything falls within easy reach, but the predominance of durable but dull plastic lowers the cabin’s ambience. On the plus side, there’s plenty of equipment, including smart keyless entry, automatic wipers and lights and cruise control to make things that little bit easier. The seats are comfortable and the height adjustable front chairs make it easy to settle into a decent driving position. Visibility is excellent thanks to the generous glass areas. What’s more the addition of a rear facing camera, which is ingeniously displayed in the rear view mirror will give the most nervous of drivers confidence when reversing into tight parking spaces.
There’s plenty of head and leg room for middle row passengers and, with all seven seats in the upright position, it’s even possible for sixfooters to sit comfortably behind the driver’s seat. The final row is adequate for occasional use, or for children, but adults will struggle to stay comfortable during long journeys. Toyota’s Easy Flat-7 system allows you to fold the middle and rearmost seats down into the boot floor. It’s incredibly easy to use which is particularly handy if the driver has armfuls of shopping or wriggling children to tend to.
With all seats folded down, there’s a huge 1,009 litres of space available, which is perfect for carrying bulky items and could even save you a few bob in delivery charges. In five-seat mode, there’s a competitive 607 litres of room, which should be enough to carry the majority of the family kit. Out on the road, the Verso is a comfortable cruiser, with a decent ride and tidy handling. Despite its size, it seems to shrink around you. It is reasonably agile, with light but lifeless steering and a pliant ride on all surfaces except the deepest of pot holes. The common-rail 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine is willing with plenty of power throughout the rev range.
Fuel economy of 51.4mpg is impressive for such a hefty people carrier and low CO2 emissions of 143g/km puts the Verso in tax band F – that means a manageable bill of £125 per year – so it’s hardly expensive to run. Factor in Toyota’s legendary reliability and the company’s excellent reputation for customer service and you really can’t go wrong.
RIVALS: Mazda5 2.0 Furano Diesel, Renault Grand Scenic Dynamique TomTom dCi 130
- Engine: 1998cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max power: 125bhp at 3,600rpm
- Max torque: 229lb ft at 1,800 to 2,400rpm
- Max towing weight: 1,300kg
- Max speed: 118mph
- 0-62mph: 11.3secs
- Combined consumption: 51.4mpg
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 143g/km (F)
- Bootspace: 178/607/1,009litres
- Insurance group: 16
Space, easy folding seat system, agile for its size, decent to drive for an MPV
Sensible but dull interior, steering lacks feedback