Saturday 10 December 2016

Toyota's new Proace Verso: 'Car-like comfort with good high seating to make long journeys tolerable'

Car maker flexes its MPV muscles with the impressive Proace Verso range of roomy designs

Martin Brennan

Published 11/09/2016 | 02:30

BESTSELLER: Toyota predicts big sales for the panel van grade
BESTSELLER: Toyota predicts big sales for the panel van grade

The new Proace Verso range of vehicles, which goes on sale in garages at the end of the month, marks Toyota's return to the large MPV market with a flexible vehicle which has a carrying capacity of up to nine people. The new wagon is offered in three body lengths and offers huge cabin space with three rows of seats an option depending on the vehicle's use.

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The Proace will be a popular choice in the Family configuration, which allows for seven passenger seats and boasts six Isofix seat settings for young travellers to be secure. There is a growing demand for roomy vehicles with good luggage space for school runs and family leisure activities, and this would certainly fit the bill.

Toyota has come to the Light Commercial market with some style. The Hiace days are long gone as the new range of Compact, Medium and Long panel vehicles have goodies such as automatic sliding doors and a panoramic sunroof, with a host of safety features and driving aids available. The Family configuration gets aeroplane-style tables for the second row of seats where laptop and games can be played. There is also a model to suit the hospitality trade called the Shuttle, with seats for nine people to travel in comfort. This format offers a carpeted floor with high-quality fabric upholstery and is available with eight seats if more space is required for luggage.

There is also a VIP grade on offer, which is designed for executive transport, with six- and seven-seat configurations, and rail-mounted sliding second and third row seats. A foldable table mounted on the rails between the rear two rows of seats can be set up for business use and the centre row of seats can be reversed for friendlier travelling. Internet connection is an option.

Toyota's Safety Sense has an array of systems which will be available and it includes Forward Collision Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Alert, Driver Attention Alert, Road Sign Assist, Adaptive Front Lighting and an automatic high-beam system. The new line-up gets the Toyota crest on a sharp and stylish front end which is in line with the new face of all Toyota models.

But glamour aside, the main seller in the range will be the workhorse panel van version which will be available with a 1.6 litre 95bhp and a two-litre 120bhp or 150bhp engine in the three platform options, Compact (4.6m), Medium (4.9m) and Long (5.3m). All three are 2.2m wide and 1.9m tall.

Toyota has taken an easy and less financially stressful route into the Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) market by extending the collaboration with the Peugeot/Citroen PSA group.

The body shells and much of the interior furniture are PSA sourced from the Citroen SpaceTourer and Peugeot Traveler, and are based on the same platforms. The engine line-up is also PSA diesel technology, with 95bhp, 115bhp, 150bhp and 180bhp power plants available across the range in 1.6 and 2-litre blocks. These engines are tried and tested and have a reputation for durability and economy.

Toyota has a long relationship with the French automaker - their mini car, the Aygo, comes from the same factory in the Czech Republic as the Citroen C1 and the Peugeot 107 under a Toyota production system. The Proace, however, is being built in a PSA-run plant in France.

Toyota is forecasting 500 sales next year, with large numbers from the panel van grade. Product manager Paddy Ward says the LCV is showing big growth this year, with commercial sales up by 24pc to date on last year's figures.

For the drivers, there is car-like comfort with good high seating, supportive enough to make long journeys tolerable. A five-star NCAP safety award has been achieved. Low maintenance costs are supported with a 40,000km service interval and a three-year warranty.

Prices and full specifications will be announced by Toyota at the official Irish launch on September 26.

Sunday Independent

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