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Toyota Verso 1.6 D-4D Icon 7-seat

Click to view picture gallery“Arriving shortly in UK dealerships
  is the ‘new’ Toyota Verso compact
  MPV (or, if you prefer, people carrier).
  Built in Europe exclusively for the
  European market, more than 700,000
  have been sold since the launch of
  the first generation model back in
  2002 — and in the UK around 3,500
  were sold here last year...


HOWEVER, A YEAR AGO Toyota gave the Verso a significant mid-life upgrade in terms of styling, added equipment and improved handling performance.

Now, in time for the new registration plate month of March, we are about to receive what Toyota calls the 'new' Verso. It would be fairer to say that it's a 'refreshed' line-up most notable for their 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine being replaced by a BMW-sourced 1.6 D-4D unit which has been re-tuned by Toyota to meet their specific needs.

“The core to the changes
for the new Verso is,
of course, the BMW-
sourced diesel engine —
similar in specification
to that used in the
1 Series and also the
current MINI.
..”
The current 1.6 and 1.8-litre Toyota petrol engines continue in the new range and prices are carry-over, starting at 17,765.

Also introduced are a range of new wheel designs, new interior trims, the introduction of a Trend grade, and new exterior colours along with Toyota's new Touch 2 multimedia system.

Depending on the engine chosen, there are four equipment levels to choose from: the starter level is Active; next up is Icon (appealing to 66% of buyers), then comes the new Trend level and, at the top of the range, Excel.

The Active spec with the 130bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine and manual transmission is the only model in the range to be offered with five and seven seats all other specification levels have seven seats as standard. Understandable, as just 2% of UK customers buy a five-seat Verso.

The 145bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine has Multidrive S automatic transmission as standard, and the new 110bhp 1.6-litre D-4D turbodiesel (available with all four specification levels) has a six-speed manual gearbox. This new-to-Toyota BMW-sourced engine might have the lowest power output of the three units on offer, but it does have the highest torque: 200lb ft developed from 1,750rpm and with a wide rev-range for a diesel even in third gear it will reach a shade over 70mph. Top speed is 115mph, the same as the petrol engine, and zero to 62mph takes 12.7 seconds which is 1 to 1.5 seconds slower than the petrol engines.

However, the new diesel is much more fuel efficient, officially recording 62.8mpg in the Combined Cycle. On my test drive, with three people in the vehicle complete with luggage and a driving route on the mountainous and winding rural roads in the South of France, it returned 46mpg.

The CO2 emissions are 119g/km which will mean a road tax cost of 0 in the First Year and then a low 30 per annum for Year Two onwards. By comparison, both petrol engines will cost 175 a year in road tax. For company car users running the diesel unit, Benefit-in-Kind tax (from next April) will be 20% against the 23 and 24% rate for the petrol engines.

Just as important is the purchase price comparison. The new 1.6-litre diesel manual gearbox model with the best-selling Icon trim costs 21,995. The 1.8-litre petrol Icon with the standard-fit automatic transmission is 21,795 (the 1.6-litre petrol Icon with manual gearbox is 20,295).

“The new diesel is much
more fuel efficient,
officially recording
62.8mpg in the
Combined Cycle.
On my test drive, with
three people in the
vehicle complete with
luggage and a driving
route on the mountainous
and winding rural roads
in the South of France,
it returned 46mpg.
..”
The insurance group for the new diesel is yet to be announced but going by the figures of the previous models, expect it to be around Group 16 that's one or two groups higher than the petrol versions.

Specification-wise sees the base Active level getting standard kit such as AirCon, front electric windows, electrically-operated and heated door mirrors, front fog lights and a vehicle stability programme.

Moving up a level, the best-selling Icon gets 16-inch alloys (which I believe provides the best degree of ride comfort), dual-zone AirCon, DAB radio, Bluetooth, rear-view camera, electric rear windows, cruise control and rear privacy glass.

The new Trend level adds 17-inch alloys, front parking sensors, Touch 2 with Go multimedia system, and SatNav with Google Street View and TomTom real-time traffic data. For the record, the Toyota Touch 2 with Go is standard on the new Trend models but is also available as a 650 option on Icon and Excel versions.

Excel models gain HID headlights, smart entry with start button, automatic wipers and lights, and leather seat bolsters. Various other extra-cost options are available, such as a 550 panoramic roof for Icon, Trend and Excel models.

The core to the changes for the new Verso is, of course, the BMW-sourced diesel powerplant similar in specification to that used in the 1 Series and current MINI. Engine sharing is now commonplace amongst manufacturer reducing, as it does, development costs and complying with customer demands for engine downsizing.

Although the Toyota version of this engine is still built by BMW in Austria, the Toyota modifications include a newly-developed dual-mass flywheel together with revised engine mounts and drive shafts to minimise vibrations along with changes that enable it to be mated to Toyota's own six-speed gearbox.

One of the main challenges was to redesign the electrical interface in the ECU engine management system so both BMW and Toyota systems 'talk' to each other. The ECU injection mapping and turbocharger response has been designed to provide more punch in first, second and third gears for maximum acceleration. It also allows the engine to rev freely and with minimum noise to over 3,000rpm before smoothing out the torque delivery for effortless driving in fourth and fifth gears, and also in the overdrive sixth gear for motorway cruising.

Mostly it works very well the engine is very willing to rev in low gears and delivers punchy acceleration from standstill. Only on rolling starts in second gear, say at roundabouts, did the turbo lag slightly before delivering its boost to get the Verso underway again.

“While it’s not the
cleverest of fold-down
seating systems, you do
get 155 litres of boot
space with all seven
seats in use; and 1,009
litres with just the two
front seats occupied.
..”
While it's not the cleverest of fold-down seating systems, you do get 155 litres of boot space with all seven seats in use; and 1,009 litres with just the two front seats occupied. Niggles include the bland but nonetheless durable interior, poor rear corner visibility and the Touch 2 with Go screen could be larger.

Major plus points include the new fuel and CO2-efficient downsized diesel engine, responsive acceleration, low running and tax costs, improved specification, roomy, sharp styling, and good ride comfort with 16-inch wheels plus it's easy to live with.

All customers buying the latest 2014 Verso will physically see the benefits of the improved specification: the new Trend spec level and new bodywork colours, plus the Touch 2 with Go multimedia and SatNav system.

The main change is the 8% improvement in fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions from the 1.6-litre D-4D engine over the outgoing 2.0-litre D-4D unit. Engine downsizing has become a way of life and Toyota for the Verso has fulfilled that objective with help from BMW. Watch out for future Toyota and BMW collaborations with engines, hybrid technology and platforms. — David Miles

Toyota Verso 1.6 D-4D Icon 7-seat | 21,995
Maximum speed: 115mph | 0-62mph: 12.7 seconds | Average Test MPG: 46mpg
Power: 110bhp | Torque: 200lb ft | CO2 119g/km