The all-new Toyota Aygo X is a tiny car with big ambitions. The Czech built five-door hatchback is significantly wider, longer and taller than the pint-sized 2018 Aygo. Toyota describes the Aygo X (X as in ‘cross’) as an urban crossover. We’ve been to Barcelona to test what will be the cheapest Toyota you can buy prior to its arrival in showrooms in April 2022.
The chunky Aygo X is built on a modified Toyota Yaris platform. The front wheel drive X is taller than a Yaris but out gunned in all other dimensions by the current Car of the Year. The Aygo’s ride height is raised by 11mm, and this new stature proves helpful in urban settings. Drivers get a commanding view of their surroundings and this is a good thing. They can interact with vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians at near eye level and this enhances safety for all. Short overhangs coupled to its elevated stance mean speed bumps will be easy to cross (sorry!). The Cross is a good-looking car in a class that oddly doesn’t demand good looks. Its standard bi-colour exterior is full of interesting details plus there are some very nice ‘spice’ inspired paint schemes. Relatively massive 17-inch alloys are standard with 18s optional. Dramatic LED lighting up front helps announce the car plus the previous generation Aygo inspired rear lights are instantly recognisable.
Once you step over the high sill and get in you’ll find ample room up front. Access to the rear is tight. The dash and instrument layout are comprehensively updated with the obligatory touch screen centre display. Screen size start with a 7 inch, rising through 8″ to 9″ depending on the grade. All sit in a tidy one size housing. In the rear it is cosy at best but fly windows and sculpted panels help maximise the passenger space available. The rear doors have a cool but pointy design that ‘could take your eye out’ if you were neglectful getting in. I did manage to sit behind my seat but moved it forward first. The rear seats fold to free up modest cargo space while the boot on its own holds 231 litres (+63L). The boot lip, while quite high means shopping bags will be secure once loaded and there are a couple of ‘curry hooks’ on the sides for bag handles.
Under the tiny bonnet power comes from a lively one litre three-cylinder petrol engine. The Aygo X weighs as little as 940kgs so its 72hp and 93nm of torque can deliver adequate power for urban and even motorway use. The car comes in manual and automatic form. One we loved and the latter we didn’t. We put both versions through their paces in pre-production test cars. The manual is refreshingly light to use and quite precise. We did stall once or twice moving off but a few more revs at the clutch bite point sorted that out. The automatic uses a lightweight S-CVT gearbox, the S is for small (circa 25kgs light than the Yaris CVT). The box is new to Europe but already features in a sub-Yaris sized Toyota model in Japan.
The S-CVT gearbox can deliver frugal fuel consumption with a WLTP figure of 4.9 l/100km (4.7 manual). On paper the S-CVT Aygo X seems a perfect choice, in reality it’s not. The gearbox makes horrible sounds under the slightest pressure, quite contrary to the strides Toyota has made with all its other CVTs. On the open road any brisk acceleration or overtaking manoeuvre generates that ‘clutch-slipping’ sound that is simply nasty. You can also shift the gear selector manually or use the steering wheel paddle shifters to negate the CVT drone and this technique works well up to a point. I doubt many Aygo buyers would be paddle shift enthusiasts unless they were habitually late for bingo. The CVT is best suited to slow moving city traffic and will be sold in the level two trim grade in Ireland. Toyota Ireland says the manual will be the big seller and so it should be, it is far superior.
On the open road the Aygo X is composed and impressive for its class. Previous generations of Aygo (that were built in partnership with the PSA Group) were ridiculously noisy at speed but not so the new Aygo X. Its commanding driving position, composed suspension and relatively quiet cabin will make you instantly forget you are driving a very small car surrounded by SUVs. The Aygo X is the largest car in its class by a significant margin. At 3.7m long it is 235mm longer than the 2018 Aygo and 30mm longer than the excellent Hyundai i10 and 100mm longer than the VW Up. Its track is the widest in class too at 1740mm (Yaris 1745mm). This width between the wheels delivers improved straight-line stability and enhances safer cornering. On a variety of challenging roads, the Aygo X could keep up with regular and fast flowing traffic. Old Aygos quickly load up their suspension.
The five-speed manual gearbox is pleasant to use. The clutch is very light as is the steering, making the act of driving near effortless. The steering is precise and with a lock to lock turning circle of just 2.88 metres the Aygo X is a joy to manoeuvre in tight spaces. Should harm come looking for you laudably Toyota has fitted a host of class leading driving/driver safety aids as standard under its Safety Sense banner. At the heart is a camera and radar system that can detect all sorts of potential hazards and obstacles and take or advise action to mitigate the situation.
The city car ‘A’ sector is shrinking, and many car companies have abandoned it altogether due to the high cost of meeting emissions and the lack of unit profitability. Toyota says while some potential buyers are switching to EVs there is still a market for conve ntional small cars that it is happy to supply. Four grades will be available: Pulse, Design, Envy and Limited. 250 Aygos were sold in Ireland last year and despite missing the critical start of the year new car sales surge Toyota Ireland expects sales of 350 2022. Pricing, pending final homologation is expected to start at €18,035. The Aygo X in manual form is a very impressive small car with big capabilities.