Toyota Corolla Verso Reviews
European buyers of MPVs are no longer prepared to compromise on driving dynamics, according to Toyota. At first glance this might seem at odds with the traditional people carrier's role of school-run drudgery punctuated by weekend trips and the occasional touring holiday, yet nothing is immune from the perception that all cars must have an element of "sportiness" in their make-up.
Toyota's third generation of its compact MPV is more spacious and versatile than its predecessor, with particular attention paid to comfort with what it refers to as a "lounge concept". This means greater space in the second row of seats, which feature longer and more supportive cushions and back rests that return to their set position when unfolded.
All the seats are easier to fold and, when done, the flat floor provides the equivalent load space to a sizeable van. Underfloor storage areas are useful for hiding valuables. There's also more room for luggage, although like any MPV there's still the problem of insufficient suitcase space if all seven seats are occupied.
Two engines are available initially, a new 1.8-litre petrol developing 145bhp and a 2.0-litre turbodiesel with 124bhp.
Six-speed manual transmissions are standard, with the option of a Multidrive S CVT transmission with the petrol engine. A 2.2 diesel with 148bhp arrives soon, and will only be offered with a new six-speed automatic transmission.
The smaller diesel is refined and pulls well once into its stride, and has a claimed economy of 39.8mpg on the EU Urban cycle (51.4mpg Combined), with CO2 emissions of 143g/km.
The petrol unit is a revelation. Despite lacking the low-rev torque of a diesel, it picks up cleanly and quietly and feels distinctly more spirited. There's little penalty when it comes to economy, with an Urban fuel consumption of 31mpg (40.4mpg Combined). CO2 emissions are 165g/km.
And sportiness in the drive? Not by any stretch of the imagination could it be called sporty, but the new Verso has a pleasing solidity and response to the major controls. Roll and float, those banes of spiritedly driven MPVs, are well controlled and the suspension also soaks up degraded road surfaces without transmitting shocks to the cabin.
The three equipment levels - T2, TR and T-Spirit - are comprehensive, with the mid-spec TR expected to take 73 per cent of sales and the top-spec T-Spirit seven per cent.
Safety is obviously a big selling point, and the Verso scores highly thanks to the inclusion of curtain airbags for passengers in the rearmost seats. The Verso isn't going to set the world on fire but then Toyota has always been a safe bet for reliability and low running costs. In this uncertain world, it's good to have something to rely on.