Toyota has been here before. Up until five years ago it marketed something called the Yaris Verso. It never caught on, but it could be argued that it kick-started the entire supermini-MW ball rolling. Fingers burnt, Toyota pulled out and has only just mustered the guts to have another go. With what, in proﬁle , looks suspiciously like a Honda Jazz…
It’s called the Verso-S, is based on the Yaris supermini and is claiming to be the shortest, lightest and most efficient of its class bedfellows. What it doesn’t claim to be is the fastest or quietest, which is just as well as it’s only equipped with a 98bhp 1.3-litre petrol that’s neither particularly perky nor that noiseless. And that’s with the six-speed manual gearbox. The other option is the seven-speed Multidrive S (it’s a CVT). Don’t go there.
Still, Toyota says that the Verso-S is aimed at the urban environment so shouldn’t need to be storming about. But that just makes it harder to understand why we’re not getting a diesel, or stop/start like our European neighbours, because addressing the boxy little Toyota’s lack of torque would transform the Verso-S into a viable option for those who do more than potter off for a bag of Werther’s. It is a mini-MPV after all, so it makes sense that owners will want to use it like one, either loaded with gear, people or both, and for that, a torque diesel would make more sense. There are also no plans for a hybrid. Toyota isn’t bothering because it thinks the CO2 emissions are already respectable enough (127g/km for the manual and 120g/km for the CVT). In any case, the sales team has its customers sussed: it’s pitching the Verso-S at empty-nesters, mature drivers and down-sizers, which brings us neatly onto practicality — the main reason for buying this over a Yaris. Yes, it’s bigger and moderately well packaged, but it’s just not very clever.
The Vauxhall Meriva has rear-hinged doors, the Nissan Note sliding rear seats, and Honda’s Jazz is brilliantly thought out. In comparison, the Verso-S has decent head- and legroom, and a good-sized boot with a movable floor that offers a max of 429 liters. But it can’t be said to push the boundaries in any area.
Maybe the sort of buyers Toyota is targeting will be more impressed with the kit on offer. You get stuff such as a six-inch touch-screen system and a rear-view camera as standard, while the higher-spec T-Spirit adds a panoramic roof. The Verso-S also rides nicely and is perfectly comfortable and unobjectionable. Just bear in mind there are more interesting choices out there.