Toyota Verso-S wins the space race

Toyota Ireland has launched its new small MPV in Ireland with an entry level price of €16,995.

The Verso-S is the successor to the Yaris Verso, which has not been sold in Europe since 2005.

In total there are 925 old Yaris Versos on Irish roads, including more than 500 that qualify for the current Government car scrappage scheme. The B-Segment MPV market currently accounts for 1.7 per cent of overall Irish car sales, with the Hyundai iX20 being the market leader for the year to date.

To avoid any confusion, the new Verso-S should be distinguished from the bigger Corolla-derived Verso. It is a smaller brother and is based on a new platform developed for a new Yaris hatchback due here in 2012.

The new Verso-S is powered by the familiar (also in the Auris and Corolla ) 1.33 petrol engine which is in the B CO2 tax bracket here in manual gearbox form, while a CVT automatic variant puts it in Band A, but carries a premium of €1,200.

The 1.4 diesel option is not available in right hand drive and the stop/start will not be available here because it does not change the tax rating.

When it comes to size, Toyota says the new Verso-S is the smallest of the market’s mini-MPVs on the outside, but clever design and packaging ensures the space on offer inside is close to what you will find in a compact family hatchback. And while the generous and flexible loadspace makes it very practical, it is smart looking too.

The rear seats are divided 60:40 and have a simple one-touch flat-fold mechanism. Verso-S makes life even easier by providing additional control levers to fold the seats down on each side of the boot space – a feature not found on any of its mini-MPV rivals.

Around the cabin there are 19 separate storage points, including door pockets, bottle and cupholders, a tray beneath the front passenger seat, and a three-level dashboard compartment.

In Ireland it is being offered in three grades, Terra, Luna and Sol. The last includes a full length panoramic sunroof. However, while the Terra and Luna get a temporary spare wheel, the Sol has just a puncture repair kit. I figure this is to compensate for the extra weight of the large sunroof.

Also watch out for the Toyota Touch. It is the first multi-media system in a B-Segment MPV. And Toyota Ireland says it will be rolled out across the range when new models are introduced. It is not available as an aftersales option fit.

The Verso-S has a great driving position and powers along well. One downside - in very stormy conditions on one of the drives, the higher Verso-S with the lighter modern body was not so enjoyable. Other than that, it proved a stylish and functional mini-MPV that gets the job done like all Toyotas. The company hopes to sell 200 this year, rising to 400 in 2011. And I bet they will.

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