Day one: You might have seen the ads for this car. They’re the ones that encourage you to ‘go fun yourself’. This seems like a funning strange way to sell a car and also rather ship. On first acquaintance the car itself, what with its fluttery three cylinder engine noise and its sense of solid minimalism, seems like a more polished version of the old Aygo. Which I suppose it is. And that’s just fine.
Day two: The Aygo feels perfectly pleasant to drive. To look at, I’m not so sure. That massive X effect on the front end is strange, the kick up in the window line is too severe, the back lights are overdone and the whole thing feels like it’s trying too hard. You can have your Aygo with a degree of personalisation which, on this press demonstrator, means red details on the front and rear bumpers, a red roof decal and glossy black alloys. The cars are built in the Czech Republic but these extra trimmings are added at the Toyota factory in the UK. I swear the young couple crossing the road at some lights today are smirking at my Aygo. Oh God, they believe I’ve made these modifications myself. I want to drop the window and explain that it was some blokes in Derbyshire who did this and I haven’t coloured in bits of my own car with a can of red paint. It’s a shame really. The Aygo seems like an honest, functional car and it doesn’t need this sort of stuff. It’s not cool.
Day three: I like the Aygo’s simplicity. Even the graphics on the touchscreen are unfussy. Mind you, it’s not as minimalist as the old model which had one gas strut on the tailgate and no control for the passenger electric window on the driver’s door, saving on wiring and the trouble of flipping it for left- and right-hand-drive. The new one gets the lavish luxury of two window switches on the driver’s door. The tailgate has two gas struts too. I know this because today I went to put something in the boot, the very act of which caused the thin, flimsy parcel shelf to collapse. I think whoever designed this bit completely misheard Colin Chapman’s famous dictate and decided to simplicate and add shiteness. It’s a rare oversight. The rest of the car feels pretty well made.
Day four: There’s a certain cheeriness to the way the Aygo drives. I think it’s the engine noise and the way it skips over bumps. It leans into corners quite a lot but if you pick your line and stick to it, it grips rather well. It’s a likeable car. Despite this, it seems to have had a rough ride in some bits of the press. Chris Evans reviewed it for the Daily Mail and called it ‘appalling’. Then three weeks later tested the mechanically identical Peugeot 108 and said it ‘drives well’, rather proving that Chris Evans is a terrific broadcaster but a lousy car reviewer. The bloke in The Guardian went one better and reviewed the Aygo without even driving it and then added that this was his last car piece for the paper and that he’d ‘never really liked cars all that much anyway’. Just mull that over for a moment. A car reviewer who doesn’t like cars. They wouldn’t hire a theatre critic who openly disliked going to the theatre or a political correspondent who repeatedly said, ‘Oooh, it’s all a bit confusing. Which ones are the Literal Democats again?’ so why in the name of merry soddery is it okay for a national newspaper, even a left-leaning one, to hire a car critic who doesn’t know his shit?
Day five: Sorry to go on about this again but just to recap, The Guardian thought it was fine to run a car review in which the reviewer merely watched his partner drive the car. Next week, their restaurant critic reviews food by watching someone else eating it. For the record, I have driven the Aygo again today. I also like cars. Including, for the most part, this one.
Day six: I’m going to the Midlands. I’m taking my wife and my baby son. On reflection, it seems better to take our family estate car rather than the little Toyota. For space reasons, mainly. It’s actually not bad on the motorway, largely because it’s very long geared. Hang on a sec; my wife hasn’t been in the Aygo at all. I wonder if The Guardian would like her to review it for them.
Goodbye: They’re taking the Aygo away again. Over the course of a week I’ve discovered there’s a very specific way to get the best from it. Taking advantage of the gearing by running it long in each gear, planning ahead to conserve momentum, picking your lines into bends to let it settle into its lollopy cornering stance. It’s sort of like a modern 2CV or a more light hearted VW Up. If you’re tight fisted, you might also know that it seems determined to do 50mpg everywhere. I just wish the styling and the advertising weren’t trying so hard because, as a car, it’s good enough not to need such things.
The car talked about here is a Toyota Aygo x-pression 5 door. It has a 1-litre three cylinder engine which makes 69 horsepower. It’s claimed to go from 0-62 in 14.2 seconds and on to 99mph. Without options, this particular model costs £11,395.