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Toyota Verso 2.0 D-4D Icon

Click to view picture gallery“Leading contenders for MotorBar’s
  MOSCA (Most Sensible Car of the
  Year Award) has to be Toyota’s Verso
  and the Skoda Rapid. Exciting the
  Verso is not; but as a practical car to
  actually live with on a daily basis, it’s
  virtually untouchable...

AND AFTER SPENDING A FULL WEEK with the new face-lifted Verso I know this for a fact. It's not a drastic makeover but it does bring slightly sharper looks inspired by the new Auris: that means a new grille, redesigned bumpers, narrower headlamps, LED running lights, fresh door mirrors and new wheel designs. You still wouldn't call it pretty, but it's certainly prettier.

The cabin is better, too, with soft-touch materials and satin highlights. It's all beautifully built even if the feel of the materials still doesn't quite match VW standards.

The ultra-simple dashboard design remains, which sees the main gauges sited in the centre of the dash — which is fine apart from the fact that the steering wheel obscures part of the display. The standard multimedia system works well, too; but the Touch & Go colour screen with built-in SatNav (a 650 option) works even better. The high-mounted, light-shifting gear lever and well-positioned pedals also contribute to the feeling of great comfort.

“The seating format is
one of the Verso’s great
features. It’s a seven-
seater but like almost all
‘7-Uppers’ (seven-seat
family luggers), the
rearmost pair of folding
seats are strictly for kids
— and small kids at
Toyota hasn't changed the seating format, which remains one of this car's greatest features. It's a seven-seater but like almost all '7-Uppers' (seven-seat family luggers), the rearmost pair of folding seats are strictly for kids — and small kids at that.

Viewed as an occasional transporter of tiny tots, it works fine. More than compensating and helped by the multi-adjustability of all three individual seats, space in the middle row is huge.

The Verso is at its most versatile as a carrier of luggage. The boot is huge with five seats in use but if you fold down all the rear seats (a very easy exercise), it becomes positively gargantuan.

Helpfully, the load platform is low so you don't need to lift luggage over a lip and the boot floor is completely flat — it was a doddle for me to fit two mountain bikes in there.

The cabin is also now a quieter place than before, this thanks to extra sound damping and a quieter engine. I drove a 2.0-litre D-4D diesel model (easily the most popular engine choice) which now has beefier torque delivered at low revs and its CO2 emissions are now under 130g/km.

All you really need to know is that it's got plenty enough oomph to transport a family and luggage around. So while it's still not the quietest diesel on the market, it is easy enough to live with on a daily basis.

Let's face it, handling finesse is not why you'll buy a Verso. However, for the record, it's perfectly decent and always feels safe. The body is now more rigid than before, and the suspension has been tuned for a more comfortable ride (although it can still be slightly unsettled over rough surfaces). The electric power steering has a better feel too; for such a light-to-the-touch system it's actually very pleasant to use.

There's a new grade structure to the Verso range = with Active, Icon and Excel models. Standard for all versions are fog lights, AirCon, electric front windows and hill-start assist. Icon adds cruise control, DAB tuner, rear privacy glass, alloy wheels, and folding door mirrors. The range-topping Excel includes leather seat bolsters, keyless entry, roof rails and automatic 'lights 'n' wipes'.

Despite being quite pricey compared to MPV rivals, the Verso beats them hands-down in the rationality stakes. As a family load-lugger, the Verso really can't be topped. Give it the Sensible gong! — Chris Rees

Toyota Verso 2.0 D-4D Icon
| 21,445
Maximum speed: 115mph | 0-62mph: 11.3 seconds | Average MPG: 57.6mpg
Power: 122bhp | Torque: 133lb ft | CO2 129g/km