The Aygo is perfectly functional, but the interior feels cheap


PRICE: From £8,595 (£11,965 as tested)
ENGINE CAPACITY: 1.0-litre three-cylinder
POWER OUTPUT (BHP@RPM): 68 @ 6,000

If you happen to be in the market for an economical city runaround, you're spoilt for choice these days. First off VW Group, which makes everything from supercars to city superminis, offers the excellent little Citigo, Up! and Mii in various Skoda, VW and Seat flavours. Then there's the Hyundai and Kia alliance's equally excellent (but more austere) i10 and Picanto offering.

Notice a theme here? It's hard to make money on a small city car, so automakers club together to cover the development costs. The latest product of these car-sharing schemes is the new Toyota Aygo, which you'll find is rather closely related to the new Citroen C1 and the equally new Peugeot 108.

With all this sharing, the new Aygo really needs to impress if it hopes to stand out. Sadly, first impressions aren't good. Getting behind the pleather-trimmed wheels feels like driving a flimsy smartphone cover you bought down the market for £3.50. The Aygo is perfectly functional, but the interior feels cheap with a wobbly handbrake and overly shiny plastics that pick up dirt and grubby fingermarks all too easily.

Firing up the engine of my test model didn't offer reassurance either, with a shrieking whine every time I even thought of touching the throttle. The friendly Toyota delivery chap made a great show of this being normal, but if I'd just bought an Aygo with this grating whine (far worse than the usual rasp you get from a three-cylinder engine), I'd be taking it straight back to the dealership.

That's not to say that there aren't things to like about the Aygo. First off, the five-door version I tested is surprisingly roomy and boasts a boot that will easily fit two suitcases plus an umbrella-style buggy. And despite the noisy engine, it will hit a respectable MPG figure in the high-forties and offers vehicle excise duty-free motoring, thanks to its low CO2 emissions.

I'm sure that Toyota would like me to point out that its front, emblazoned with an "X" running from the A-pillars to the front grille, is just one of a number of parts that can be swapped around in a variety of colours. I suppose it reinforces the smartphone cover theme, but if I had £9k in my pocket and was testing the Aygo alongside a Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108, I'd forget about colour inserts. I'd probably just go for the one that didn't make a funny noise.

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