The jointly engineered Peugeot 107, Citroen C1 and Toyota Aygo have become common sights on UK roads thanks to a blend of French small car know-how, Toyota reliability, and keen pricing. It will come as no surprise therefore that they are at it again with the revised 108, C1 and Aygo aiming to keep up with an increasingly competitive and sophisticated city car sector.
The first thing to know is that the new Aygo isn’t totally new, but rather a serious update. City cars have very small profit margins so there just wasn’t a sensible business case to start from scratch. That means that the mechanical bits will be very familiar to current owners which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but with the likes of the VW up! moving expectations on considerably and the rear-engined Renault Twingo upping the design ante, will it be enough to keep the Aygo competitive?
The Aygo is a pretty conventional city car which lacks the clever touches of newer rivals but that isn’t to say that it’s all bad news. It has a sensible amount of space inside and offers great visibility which in combination with the tiny overhangs makes it easy to slot into the last available parking space.
Toyota has also done a good job of updating the looks, the new Aygo looks modern, and surprisingly chunkier in the flesh given that it is essentially just a major restyling exercise. You can’t fail to notice that the frontal styling of the Aygo is dominated by a huge ‘X’, which may appeal to some, but not others. Like it or not, it certainly differentiates the Aygo from the Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1 family members, and gives the car more road presence and a trendier look. The dark blue and white of our test car wouldn’t be our preferred colour scheme, and the white wheels are almost impossible to keep clean.
Inside there is the now obligatory 7-inch touchscreen on higher specification models which gives the interior a modern feel, but the shiny plastics and flimsy switchgear are a constant reminder that this is aimed squarely at the value end of the market and it could do with some more air vents in the centre of the dash.
The old underpinnings make themselves felt in the boot department; 168 litres wasn’t bad for a city car a few years ago, but the up! is now offering 251, whilst even with an engine in the way, Renault liberated 219 litres in the Twingo. However the simplicity does make the Aygo admirably light, with just 805 kg to lug around it’s a real featherweight.
You can have any engine you like just as long as it is a 69 bhp three-cylinder petrol. It may be old hat now to offer a normally aspirated engine but it makes it very lightweight, compact and simple to build. With just 805 kg to move, the Aygo produces 86 bhp per ton which makes for a perfectly acceptable level of performance.
The only problem is that the engine only produces 70 lb ft of torque and it doesn’t arrive until 4,300 rpm. This means that you really have to work the engine to get the performance out – which can impact badly on fuel economy – and is in stark contrast to the torque-rich small capacity turbo units offered by rivals. This is one area where the Aygo’s age really stands out.
The other area where it is a little off the pace is the ride quality which is great around town but lacks composure at speed. However the Aygo remains a fun car to drive because it is really light and it’s fairly enjoyable to thread through a series of bends without any fear of it biting back. This makes it a great car for young drivers.
Those with a bit more experience may miss the extra soundproofing that we’ve become accustomed to, and the lack of any reach adjustment for the steering wheel which can make it tricky for some to get a comfortable driving position.
The official fuel consumption of 65.7 mpg is good, although not class-leading, but it is enough to qualify for VED band A which means that you pay no road tax. After a week of varied driving we recorded a very respectable 51 mpg which just goes to show that whilst it may not be clever, the 3-cylinder normally aspirated engine is easy to drive efficiently thanks to the moderate performance at low revs.
This is where the Aygo pulls some points back. Yes it feels a bit cheap in places but that can be excused because it actually is cheap. The model tested is the upmarket x-clusive which costs £11,695, or £12,090 with the distinctive silver front X, A-pillar x-tension and rear bumper insert added. However the entry-level ‘X’ model which has exactly the same engine is a competitive £8,595.
The Aygo lacks the polish and all-round capability of the likes of the VW up! or the Fiat Panda, but it’s well priced, well suited to the urban environment, and fun. The back-to-basics approach has paid dividends on the scales which translates into good real world fuel consumption. In particular the cheaper models make a great car for young drivers, providing low running costs, lots of personalisation and safe but entertaining handling combined with moderate performance.
The Aygo is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 7 out of 10.