Toyota Aygo X Undercover review: Points for style but designer 'collab' comes at a premium

The Toyota Aygo X Undercover adds designer flourishes to a formula that's already seen Toyota sell thousands of carsThe Toyota Aygo X Undercover adds designer flourishes to a formula that's already seen Toyota sell thousands of cars
The Toyota Aygo X Undercover adds designer flourishes to a formula that's already seen Toyota sell thousands of cars | National World
Toyota adds designer flourishes and extra equipment to its fun to drive formula for the Aygo X city car

You don’t need to be an automotive analyst to see that cars are getting bigger - just take a look at any supermarket car park, where you’ll witness customers in their droves do the Crossover Limbo, performing feats of acrobatic contortion worthy of a pitch on the Royal Mile during Festival time as they try to squeeze themselves in and out of their vehicles without dinging the adjacent car and triggering the wrath of the neighbouring driver.

Despite that though, some of the best fun and best value for money cars over the last decade have come from the A-segment, or City Car segment - small hatchbacks like the Toyota Aygo X, Kia Picanto and Hyundai i10, built to a price and one of the most accessible entry points to the new car market whether buying cash or finance.

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Tight margins and a focus on electrification have seen some manufacturers, like Citroen, Peugeot, Skoda and Renault withdraw from the category in recent years but Toyota, as confirmed to me recently by press office manager David Rogers, very much still believes in the small, petrol engined A segment car. They’ve sold over 50k Aygo X units since launch and say small petrol-engined city cars are still an important category for accessible car ownership.

That’s not to say Toyota executives have their heads in the sand when it comes to fashion. The Aygo X replaced the Aygo as the entry point in Toyota’s line-up, the ‘x’ alluding to its pseudo-SUV styling with raised ride height and chunky plastic body kit. The Undercover edition adds more cosmetic flourishes - some striking seat upholstery, numerous red accents and, bizarrely, the words ‘CHAOS’ and ‘BALANCE’ in all-caps, four-inch high letters on the roof.

The words 'Chaos' and 'Balance' are displayed on the roof of the Aygo X, for some reasonThe words 'Chaos' and 'Balance' are displayed on the roof of the Aygo X, for some reason
The words 'Chaos' and 'Balance' are displayed on the roof of the Aygo X, for some reason | National World

The styling is a result of a collaboration between Toyota and Japanese streetwear designer Jun Takahashi and probably an indication of the demographic Toyota is hoping to attract to the model.

Coming in a shade over twenty thousand pounds, our manual test car sits at the top end of what customers can expect to pay for an Aygo X, with the range starting at £15,990. For your money, it’s a well-equipped car for its class, with wireless charging, heated partial leather front seats, aircon and 18-inch alloy wheels, as well as the model specific haute couture. The trouble is at this end of the pricing scale the Aygo X must duke it out with cars a class above, like the Peugeot 208 or Vauxhall Corsa which will compare considerably more favourably on practicality unless a tiny parking space is your chief concern.

Red accents and partial leather characterise the dashboard and interior of the Aygo X Undercover. Credit Steven ChisholmRed accents and partial leather characterise the dashboard and interior of the Aygo X Undercover. Credit Steven Chisholm
Red accents and partial leather characterise the dashboard and interior of the Aygo X Undercover. Credit Steven Chisholm | National World

Driving the Aygo X

The Aygo X is available with both manual and automatic transmissions. The car I tested had the manual gearbox, which is a tenth of a second slower on paper than the automatic. I wouldn’t worry about that differential as, if you can tell the difference between nought to 62mph in 14.9 seconds and 14.8, I take my hat off to you. The Aygo X kerb weight is just 945-995 kilos and the lightweight frame, short wheelbase and grippy handling is a recipe for fun, if not speed.

Testing on a riverside drive that took in the towns of Clydebank, Helensburgh and Dumbarton, it was on the urban sections where the Aygo X came into its own, agile and with an eagerness away from the lights that seems to belie the stats on the spec sheet.

Eighteen inch wheels are large for a car of its size and, while they add to the jacked up appearance, the thin tyres mar the ride over rough surfaces. On the whole the suspension is supple enough to save the refinement despite the choice of wheels.

I’ve no complaints about the manual gearbox, but the clutch has too much travel and it’s an awkward-feeling extension of the left leg to fully depress the pedal. Drive the Aygo X full time and you’ll develop a left leg like a goofy stance skateboarder.

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Facts and Figures

Toyota Aygo X Undercover

Price: £20,110 as driven

Engine: 1.0L Dual VVT-i 3 cylinder

Transmission: 5-speed manual

Power: 71bhp

Top speed: 98mph

Acceleration: 0-62mph in 14.9 seconds

Emissions: 110 g/km co2

Fuel: 57.6mpg WLTP

You probably won’t buy an Aygo if you plan to spend most of your time on the motorway, but it’s up to the task when required in short bursts. At speed there is a bit of an issue with wind noise and I suspect cabin sound insulation is one of the areas where cost control has been exercised to meet the price expectations in the segment.

A man who bought his whole outfit in Debenhams reflected in the tinted privacy glass on the rear of the Japanese streetwear inspired Aygo X UndercoverA man who bought his whole outfit in Debenhams reflected in the tinted privacy glass on the rear of the Japanese streetwear inspired Aygo X Undercover
A man who bought his whole outfit in Debenhams reflected in the tinted privacy glass on the rear of the Japanese streetwear inspired Aygo X Undercover | National World

In terms of size, the Aygo X is 235mm longer than the old Aygo model but, while space in the front is comfortable, it doesn’t translate to a particular feeling of spaciousness for rear passengers. The boot capacity of 231 litres - 812 with the seats folded - lags behind some of the competitors that remain in the city car segment - like the Kia Picanto (255 litres) and Hyundai i10 (252 litres) and, as previously referenced, the price of this special edition model brings it into the same price bracket as models like the Peugeot 208 at 311 litres or Hyindai’s i20 at 352 litres.

Verdict: Should you buy a Toyota Aygo X?

There’s a lot to commend about the Aygo X. Toyota’s commitment to the city car segment as other manufacturers withdraw should mean the Aygo X gains market share by virtue of just sticking around, but on its merits buyers will be attracted by its striking looks and fun driving dynamics in the city. Models lower down the range offer a solid combination of equipment and charm, but the price of the Undercover edition may lead those left unmoved by the special edition exclusivity - only 5,000 models will be produced - to be tempted by more practical offerings from the B segment.

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