Perfect for zipping around town and great fun to drive on the open road, the Aygo was (and still is) ideal for anyone – especially new drivers – keen to keep their motoring costs down. Now, you can buy your own from as little as £2,000.
The Toyota Aygo hit showrooms in 2005 and was on sale for nine years. It was replaced by the present model in 2014, but we’re focusing on the Mk1 in this review.
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The Aygo arrived in July 2005 in standard, Aygo+ and Sport+ forms, with a 67bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and a choice of three or five-door hatchback bodystyles.
Within six months there was a short-lived 1.4 diesel, and along the way there have been numerous specials, such as the Fire, Ice and Platinum.
The high-spec Blue and Black appeared in January 2009 when CO2 emissions were cut to 106g/km; they dropped to 99g/km in March 2012 when the Aygo was facelifted with an improved interior and extra equipment, plus a redesigned front end. A final refresh in August 2013 brought new trims and standard ESP.
Few Aygos include ESP and Toyota even removed it from the options list for a while. A lot of Aygos also come without air-con, but it’s worth having as the cabin gets hot in the summer.
You’ll be doing well to find an Aygo diesel, while the MMT auto is rare, too. Some owners don’t get on with this, but it works well if you persevere.
Entry-level Aygos are sparsely equipped, so it’s worth finding a higher-spec Aygo+, although a Black or Blue edition will also provide more in the way of creature comforts, as they feature air-con and alloys.
The original Kia Picanto (2004-2011) was good, but the second-generation car, launched in 2011, is more impressive. It’s well equipped, has a long warranty and a big-car feel. Also worth considering is the Hyundai i10, which shares the Kia’s platform.
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The original Ford Ka (1996-2008) is great fun to drive, but can rust badly and the Mk2 edition (from 2008) isn’t as much fun or as characterful. But these later cars are also more likely to be in good condition.
The Fiat Panda offers low running costs, surprising refinement and a brilliantly spacious interior.
Water pumps can leak or fail on both the 1.0-litre petrol engine and the 1.4-litre turbodiesel; look out for signs of coolant leaks.
Rain water can leak into the boot via the seals for the tailgate, which might be misaligned; water also gets past the rear light seals.
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Exhaust back boxes haven’t proven to be especially durable; some have rotted out in little more than two years, so listen for blowing.
The rear wheel brake cylinders can leak after just a couple of years. Keep an eye out for fluid on the brake back plate and check the system’s fluid level.
It may be minimalist, but the Aygo’s funky inside. There’s a surprising amount of passenger space for such a small car, albeit with room for only four. Yet that cabin space hits boot capacity, which stands at 139 litres – or 751 litres with the rear seats folded.
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All Aygos need to be serviced every 12 months or 10,000 miles, with fixed-price maintenance available at any franchised dealer. There are three levels of service, which Toyota labels Minor, Full and Full+, and they’re priced at £99, £179 and £245 respectively, inclusive of parts, labour and VAT.
There’s no cambelt to replace, but the brake fluid should be renewed every two years (£40), while the coolant needs to be replaced every 10 years or 100,000 miles – expect to pay £60. There’s no maintenance schedule for the air-con (where fitted), but it’s worth regassing it every two or three years, for £79.
The Aygo Mk1 has been the subject of three recalls so far, the first one being for Toyota’s infamous sticking accelerator pedal. All cars built to the end of August 2009 were affected, but no crashes were caused by the problem.
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The second recall came in March 2013 – the rear axle could come adrift on some cars produced in July and August 2013. The most recent recall, issued in January 2015, involved faulty front shock absorbers.
The Aygo dropped out of our Driver Power top 150 in 2014 and hasn’t been back since. Its Mk2 successor came in at 82nd in our 2016 survey though, with a 7th place for running costs particularly impressive.