X marks spot where no Toyota Aygo has gone before
* Due here end July * Start price around €12,500
WE don't buy as many city cars as our European counterparts.
That is probably because we don't have major urban areas as such. And we have a culture of buying larger cars anyway.
But with the greater Dublin area expanding at pace and several city cars sprouting up now, maybe we are on the cusp of change. They do make more sense on city streets.
Toyota's Aygo is the first of three to break cover over the next few weeks. The others – the Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1 – are built on the same platform but mark their own design and looks territory.
I think it's fair to say the Aygo, with its X-graphic nose, is the most eye-catching. You will love or hate it. I happen to like it.
It gets here towards the end of July and expect prices to start around the €12,500 mark (3dr - the better-selling 5dr will be more). This is an educated guess, but I don't think I'll be far out.
It would be a fair step up from the €10,450 for the current 3dr but Toyota argue that the average in the segment is €13,000 and that old Aygo pricing is dated and out of line. We'll see what happens but I foresee a battle on price. Other big rivals include the Hyundai i10 and Volkswagen Up!
There are two major themes with this: making the car 'yours' (personalisation) and connectivity.
The X-Play trim version I've just driven from Amsterdam to Rotterdam will sell best here. My specific motor had an eclectic mix of red plastic surrounds on air vents, around the gear shift as well as white panels on the doors. Nifty. There were lots of shiny surfaces and the seats, decently supportive, were a different sort of shape.
This is a car for young people: the 25-30 age group are prime targets. They'll love switching and matching stuff, colours etc; even the X-nose can be swapped.
More practically, the boot was small; the rear lip high, there was great headroom front and rear, but knee space in the back was limited.
From this model up, there will be huge connectivity and apps when it gets here.
Toyota's touchscreen remains one of the best to make access and use of multimedia easy and simple. It was excellent in this.
A tweaked version of the old 1-litre 3cyl petrol (988cc, 69bhp, 95g/km, €180 road tax) powers the new Aygo. It had typical 3cyl throaty sound up the gears, was a bit flat in the middle range but cruised smoothly in top (5spd box). Fuel economy is slightly better at 4.1l/100km.
I drove it with some vigour; there was nice balance in the suspension set-up. And in awkward city streets its size, visibility and tight turning circle made me wonder, again, why we don't buy more cars like this.
An exclusive video featuring Bob Flavin driving the Aygo will be out this week.