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New Toyota Verso driven

2009-09-01 09:45
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Toyota
Model Verso
Engine 1.6 16-valve DOHC with Valvematic; 1.8 16-valve DOHC with Valvematic; 2.0 D4-D
Power 97 kW @ 6 400 r/min; 108 kW @ 6 400 r/min; 93 kW @ 3 600 r/min
Torque 160 Nm @ 4 400 r/min; 180 Nm @ 4 000 r/min; 310 Nm @ 1 800 - 2 400 r/min
Transmission six-speed manual
Fuel Tank 60 l
ABS with brake assist and EBD. VSC and hill start assist on SX and TX models
Airbags up to seven
Tyres 205/60R16
Front Suspension McPherson strut
Rear Suspension Torsion beam
Service Intervals 15 000 km
Service Plan 5-year/60 000 km
Warranty 3-year/100 000 km

Hailey Philander

Toyota has released the latest version of its seven-seater MPV and Wheels24 went along for the ride.

If you struggle to tell this Verso apart from its predecessor, you'd be forgiven. Evolutionary styling has been employed, but this is an all-new model that is wider (by 70 mm) and longer (by 20 mm) with more storage space than before.

If you're still unconvinced, Verso now drops the "Corolla" moniker as it abandons the mainstay's underpinnings (the MPV now rides on a version of the Auris platform) and becomes a standalone model. Not that many people would notice, or be flustered, anyway.

However, Verso also comes with a range of new engines, from 1.6-litre power to a 2.0 D4-D turbodiesel for the flagship model, all in line with the manufacturer's Optimal Drive philosophy to reduce harmful emissions and increase efficiency.

This is the first time a turbodiesel is offered on the Verso range in South Africa. However, only two models - the high-spec 1.6 and 1.8 models are available at launch, with the base 1.6 S and TX diesel joining the line-up from November.


Both petrol engines now make use of Valvematic technology, a development of Toyota's Dual VVT-i variable valve timing that controls both the lift and duration of the inlet valve for more efficient combustion. All models are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox. A neat new feature for Verso is the gearshift indicator that suggests shift points to gain the most from the more efficient engines.

The new 97-kW 1.6 Valvematic has a peak torque figure of 160 Nm and according to Toyota power and torque are up by 20- and 10%, respectively. Quoted consumption on a combined cycle is 6.8 l/100 km. CO2 emissions are down by 11%.

Up a rung, the 1.8 Valvematic produces 108 kW (up by 12%) and 180 Nm (which increases by 6%). The claimed fuel consumption for this powerplant is 7.0 l/100 km, while CO2 emissions are down by 10%.

The turbodiesel unit, which is available from November, delivers 93 kW at 3 600 r/min and 310 Nm between 1 800 and 2 400 r/min while returning 5.5 l/100 km.

I had a chance to sample the 1.6 and 1.8 models and both were extremely comfortable on the range of roads along the Cape West Coast.

Even though the MacPherson strut at the front axle has been carried over, the suspension has been significantly revised and a torsion beam is used at the rear. Anti-roll bars are used at the front and rear and body roll for a high-waisted MPV is impressive. Verso's straight-line stability at speed is also something worth noting.

But driving (and, by accounts, being driven in) the Verso, is a calming exercise.

Like a Porker, but bigger

Styling on the new Verso is not too much different from the previous generation, but both interior and exterior are, according to Toyota, split into zones for storage and occupants, driver and passengers.

With this in mind, the driver-focused area sees all the important gauges and dials directed towards the driver, freeing up valuable space ahead of the steering wheel and lending an airy sensation.

Verso is infinitely cosseting, displaying its gentle ride quality on a mix of great and treacherous dirt and tarred roads, useful with lots of nooks for the odd bits (although it would have preferred a roomier cubby and more oddment compartments in the centre console) and, as the name implies, versatile.

Thanks to Toyota's Easy Flat-7 seating system, a tug and a shove sees seats in both rear benches drop for a flat load area. Seats are raised in a similar fashion, and while the luggage area is more than adequate with the rearmost bench tumbled forward, it becomes a squeeze (as is usual with these seven-seater buses) when all seats are in use. Ideal for a quick trip to the shops, not so for the week-long family trip into the hinterland.  

Seats are supremely comfortable and the mix of materials used in the cabin has a high-class feel to it. The grainy metallic finish on the central hangdown is a lovely touch and the overall cabin is definitely not as plasticky as some of Verso's more notable rivals.

Specification is high on all models. The base model has electric power steering, power windows (up front), satellite steering controls, a "conversation mirror" that drops from the roof panel and allows the driver to keep an eye on those in the back, six cupholders and air conditioning, amongst other nice-to-haves.

Safety kit includes ABS with brake assist, EBD and five airbags. Higher spec models add stability control, hill start assist and curtain airbags, along with additional comfort and convenience items.

Verso comes standard with Toyota's five-year/90 000 km service plan and is covered by a three-year/100 000 km warranty. Service intervals on all models are at 15 000 km.

1.6 S  -  R243 300 *
1.6 SX  -  R259 000
1.8 TX  -  R279 900
2.0 TX  -  R296 000 *

* available from November 2009


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