Wintonsworld – Toyota Corolla Verso

31 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Wintonsworld – Toyota Corolla Verso

Quality, Design Features Edge It Ahead Of The Competition

SEVILLE, Spain The Toyota Corolla Verso is such a sensible, such a complete car, you#146;d think that all auto designers might now just as well all retire. There can#146;t be anything left for them to do.

This car is not in the least exciting, it#146;s not meant to be. But if a car exists to do jobs for its owners, then this one does it all.

It has seven seats. The rear two rows, and the middle ones, fold flat into the floor leaving a huge loading area. It looks neat.

A car that does all this could be forgiven for looking like a container on wheels, but the Corolla Verso does have a certain road presence and some flowing curves.

It won#146;t break the bank. Prices start at £14,495 (21,750 euros) for the 1.6 litre T2 model, although if you are tempted by some of the extra goodies on offer like a diesel engine, automatic transmission and satellite navigation, you will rapidly approach a price closer to £20,000 (30,000 euros).

For all its utilitarian quality, the Corolla Verso drives very well. It is quiet and stable on motorways, and feels firm and incisive on curvy roads. The high driving position gives a terrific feeling of security. The quality of the materials inside the car feel absolutely top notch.

The gear lever sits in the middle of the dash, freeing up space around the driver and passenger. The speed and rev counter dials are very sporty and attractive, as well as being easy to read.

Number One Compact MPV

Toyota has been very fast on its feet with the new design of the Corolla Verso. After all it is only about two years since it introduced the previous Verso. But that had only 5 seats.

And the success in the market place of the Opel/Vauxhall Zafira and Renault Grand Scenic, and the most recent VW Touran with 7 seven seats, has persuaded Toyota to move quickly.

Toyota is now undoubtedly producing the best compact MPV on the market.

This leaves Ford looking a bit embarrassed with its 5-seat C-Max. You could argue that this is a bit like offering an automatic gearbox with a manual override. Most owners will never use it.

Most owners will never use the two extra seats in the back, but it is a powerful marketing tool to demonstrate that the capability is there, and if you don#146;t want it just leave them stowed under floor.

Diesel The Best

The Verso will be available with a choice of 3 engines #150; an entry level 1.6 litre 109 bhp petrol, a 1.8 litre 127 bhp petrol, and a 114 bhp 2.0 litre diesel. I drove the 1.8 petrol automatic and 2.0 litre diesel manual on the roads around Seville in late March. The diesel was easily the best, pulling urgently and smoothly. The five-speed manual gearbox was neat and accurate.

The automatic box on the 1.8 litre model was not completely convincing, providing slow, almost hesitant changes up through the gears. The manual override, which I often use when slowing up for roundabouts or motorway junctions, worked a treat. Toyota claims that the automatic box provides better fuel economy than the manual gearbox.

Safety is well provided for, with nine airbags as standard, including one to protect the driver#146;s knees. All models in the range have ABS and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. The two top option grades #150; T3 and T Spirit, have Vehicle Stability Control, which intervenes when the computer detects the possibility of the driver losing control.

These two also have Traction Control and Brake Assist.

Sees Around Corners

One interesting optional extra is the Park Assist system which uses a rear-mounted camera to project a picture on to the Satellite Navigation screen to show the terrain behind you when reversing. It also shows you where the current position of the steering wheel will direct the car. This is a direct steal from the Lexus RX300 SUV, which is of course part of the Toyota stable.

Cornering Assist Monitor uses cameras at the front to help drivers see oncoming vehicles or pedestrians and cyclists at blind junctions.

Another innovation in the Verso is a system to determine the deterioration of the engine oil according to its soot content. When the soot level exceeds a predetermined level, an oil-change reminder will light up on the dashboard.

Avoid Traffic Jams

If you invest in the Satellite Navigation System, you will also get Electronic Traffic Avoidance, which receives traffic data from a range of sources, including local radio and the police, even when the car radio is switched off. The system can then provide advance warning of trouble ahead. If the driver is following a pre-programmed route, the navigation system will automatically offer an alternative route.

This sounds great in theory, but I#146;m afraid that my experience of SatNav is still pretty much hit and miss. The system used on the car around Seville managed to get me comprehensively lost.

Top Compact MPV

The Corolla Verso gets my vote as the top compact MPV. We#146;ve know for a long time that Japanese cars were the tops in terms of reliability and functionality. Now, Toyota is producing cars which are dynamic as well as useful, and which look great too. If you are spending your own money on a new car, buying Japanese looks increasingly intelligent.

In consumer surveys, Japanese brands consistently outshine offerings from the likes of Renault, Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat, Ford, Opel and Volkswagen.

With the Japanese taking control of higher priced cars, and the Koreans massing to assault the cheaper end of the market, it#146;s hard top see what the Europeans can do to stop the rot.

Neil Winton #150; April 6, 2004

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