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In-depth reviews

Toyota Aygo review - Engines, performance and drive

Lively little 3-cylinder engine makes all the right noises, but Toyota’s little Aygo is most at home in the city

Owners of the previous-generation Aygo will feel at home behind the wheel of the Mk2 model. For starters, the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine is carried over from the old car with small but significant tweaks, while an update in 2018 unleashed a heady 71bhp. Overall refinement is improved, but the engine retains the thrummy soundtrack and eager nature it had before. 

You can hear it so clearly because Toyota has done a better job at dampening wind and road noise. It's better at motorway speeds, but still falls behind cars such as the Hyundai i10 and VW Up! for long-distance refinement and comfort. The retractable roof that’s available as an option on some models adds a bit in terms of wind noise, but it's better than you'd expect.

Steering that’s 14 per cent sharper than the Mk1's makes the Aygo ideal for darting around town, although at higher speeds there’s significant body roll. The pay-off for that is a supple ride over bumpy roads. 

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The steering is light and accurate, the Aygo turns into corners keenly and there’s decent grip. Body movement is better controlled in some rivals, but the Aygo fared well during our braking tests. Letting the side down is the notchy and reluctant manual gearbox shift action, which oddly isn't as pleasant as the previous-gen Aygo's, even though it’s supposed to have been upgraded. 

Engines

There's only one petrol engine available to Aygo buyers, but luckily the 1.0-litre VVT-i unit is an enthusiastic performer that’s happy to rev, filling the cabin with a characterful three-cylinder noise. While some will find it intrusive, others will like the rorty tone. Indeed, Toyota engineers say positive customer feedback focused their minds on reducing road and wind noise, specifically so the engine – without getting any louder - could be heard better.

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The pleasing tone is fortunate, as particularly long first and second gear ratios mean you need to rev the engine hard to produce power. But there’s plenty of performance for nipping around town and the revision in ratios means the engine does feel less strained at a sustained fast cruise, compared to its predecessor. The Aygo’s 71bhp is developed at 6,000rpm, and 93Nm of peak torque is delivered at 4,300rpm.

The x-shift automated manual has slightly shorter gear ratios, so feels as though it picks up speed quicker around town – it blips the throttle on downshifts, too. The official performance figures show that the extra power is worthwhile, with the Aygo scorching from 0-62mph in 13.8 seconds, a whole four-tenths of a second faster than the 69bhp car. Maximum speed for both versions is 99mph.

Technical upgrades over previous versions of the 1.0 engine are focused on better combustion efficiency, reduced internal friction and exhaust gas flow optimisation. That means you get a new cylinder head with slightly higher compression, plus an exhaust gas recirculation system and freer-flowing catalytic converter among other detail changes.

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