Toyota Verso facelift

We get behind the wheel of the cheaper, more efficient and better-looking Toyota Verso MPV

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Verso is cheap to run, plus has superb resale values and strong reliability. The new model offers sharper looks, plus better handling and refinement in a bid to take a bigger slice of the MPV market. Efficiency and response are boosted, too, and all for a lower price. It’s still not the last word in fun, but the new Verso is a vastly improved car.

The pre-facelift Toyota Verso was outsold six to one by the Vauxhall Zafira. So can this cheaper, more efficient and more attractive updated version win over more families in the UK?

Part of the previous Verso’s problem was its dull design, but Toyota has worked hard to inject some style into the new car.

Changes start with a sharper front end, bringing it into line with the new Auris. Narrower headlights with LEDs and the Toyota badge set into the grille give a new sense of width and aggression. Smaller mirrors add to the streamlined look, while at the rear tweaked light clusters and a lower bumper smarten things up.

Toyota has made the Verso better to drive as well as nicer to look at. Revised, slightly firmer suspension means body roll is minimal for a high-sided MPV, but it still soaks up bumps well.

Extra chassis welds stiffen the platform so the car also feels more agile in corners, while extra sound deadening between the engine bay and cabin makes for whisper-quiet motorway driving. As is often the case with Toyotas, however, the steering lacks feel, so despite having been retuned for more immediate responses it’s no match for the Ford C-MAX dynamically. This won’t bother most customers, though – the high driving position and good visibility are far more important.

The most popular engine will be the 122bhp 2.0-litre diesel fitted to our test car. Developing 310Nm of torque at 1,600rpm (200rpm lower than the current Verso), it has slightly improved throttle response and power delivery that’s as smooth as ever.

Efficiency has taken a leap, too. Fitted with a six-speed manual box, the 2.0 D-4D returns 57.6mpg compared to the previous 53.3mpg. Its CO2 emissions have also dropped from 139g/km to 129g/km. Other engines include 130bhp 1.6 and 145bhp 1.8-litre petrols.

The Verso is offered in three new spec levels: Active, Icon and Excel. The Icon is expected to make up the bulk of sales in the UK and comes with 16-inch alloys, seven airbags, DAB radio and automatic air-conditioning.

The Verso is now better value, with the 2.0 D-4D Icon costing £160 less than the equivalent previous model, and featuring more kit, too. Other models are up to £500 cheaper.

For the first time in the UK, buyers of the base Active trim can get a five-seat version that costs around £500 less than the seven-seater. All other cars have seven seats as standard (although the third row is really only for kids), with the Easy Flat folding system that offers 32 configurations. There’s no change to the Verso’s luggage area, which provides up to 1,696 litres of space with the two rear rows folded.

Practical features also include two gloveboxes, cup-holders, door bins, map pockets and a clever panoramic mirror so parents can monitor back seat children.

While the cabin may look similar to the previous model’s, better soft-touch finishes give a higher-quality feel. Some parts feel cheap – like the flimsy door handles – but the switchgear is sturdy and should stand up to the rough and tumble of family life.

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