Toyota Aygo X: Composed and impressive for its class

A good-looking car, its dual colour exterior is full of details and creases

The all-new Toyota Aygo X has more than just an extra letter to its name. And it's a far cry from the tiny city car it replaces.

For a start it’s now an urban crossover. That sounds far more imposing than the simple city car.

Given that the cities are no longer that welcoming to the motor car, perhaps you need to be driving something styled in the manner of a rough and tumble off-roader to survive the cyclists’ scorn and snide remarks.

Drivers can now interact with more vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians at near eye level. So you can look your abusers in the eye

But this Czech-built five-door hatchback is more than the Japanese urban warrior; it’s the lowest-priced Toyota you will be able to buy from April, when it lands in Irish showrooms. It's also one of the few Toyotas on sale in Ireland that's not offered as a hybrid.


While it carries the same initial moniker as the outgoing model, this chunky Aygo X is actually built on a modified platform from the larger Yaris, an award-winner in its own right as the current European Car of the Year.

The front wheel drive Ayo X is taller than a Yaris and the extra 11mm proves helpful in urban settings.

Drivers can now interact with more vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians at near eye level. So you can look your abusers in the eye.

The Aygo X is a good-looking car in a class that oddly doesn’t demand good looks. Its dual colour exterior is full of details and creases.

Once you step over the quite high sill and sit in the cabin you’ll find ample room up front. The dash and instrument layout are comprehensively updated with the obligatory touch-screen centre display.

Rear legroom is tight, as you’d expect from a car in this class, but fly windows and sculpted panels help maximise the passenger space available. I did manage to sit behind a front seat set up for me with only a bit of warm up stretching.

Bootspace is decent as well, with 231 litres and the boot lip, while quite high, means shopping bags will be secure once loaded.

Under the tiny bonnet, the Aygo X power comes from a lively one litre three-cylinder petrol engine. The car itself weighs as little as 940kg so its 72hp and 93nm of torque can deliver adequate zip for urban and even motorway use.

The car comes with either a manual and automatic transmission. One we loved and the other we didn’t, when we put both versions through their paces in pre-production test cars.

The automatic uses a lightweight CVT gearbox, which is new to Europe though it already features in a small Toyota model in Japan. It claims to deliver frugal fuel consumption with a WLTP figure of 4.9 l/100km, slightly worse than the 4.7 litre promised with the manual transmission.

On paper the automatic Aygo X seems a perfect choice, in reality it’s not. The gearbox makes horrible sounds under the slightest pressure. On the open road any brisk acceleration or overtaking manoeuvre generates that loathsome “clutch-slipping” sound. You can also shift the gear selector manually or use the steering wheel paddle shifters to negate the CVT drone and it works well up to a point.

I doubt many Aygo buyers would be paddle shift enthusiasts unless they were habitually late for bingo. The CVT auto version is best suited to people who spend their entire lives in slow-moving city traffic. Toyota says the manual version will be the big seller here and so it should be, as it’s far nicer to drive.

On the open road away from town traffic, the Aygo X – in manual format – proved itself composed and impressive for its class. Previous generations of Aygo were too noisy at speed, but not so the new Aygo X. Its high-set driving position, composed suspension and relatively quiet cabin makes you forget you are driving a very small metal box in a sea of SUVs.

To further praise the five-speed manual format, it's worth mentioning the clutch, which is as light and effortless as the steering

There is extra width between the wheels compared to rivals and as a result it delivers improved straight-line stability and better cornering. This newly-found stability was best experienced on looping motorway interchanges where only minimal lean and body roll was felt.

On a variety of challenging roads, the Aygo X was easily able to keep up with fast flowing traffic in a composed way. Previous incarnations would quickly load up their suspension and force drivers to moderate their speed to avoid excessive body roll whereas the Aygo X could effortlessly tackle twisty bends and keep up with faster-moving traffic.

To further praise the five-speed manual format, it’s worth mentioning the clutch, which is as light and effortless as the steering. It might not be engaging, but that light-touch steering also delivers impressive turning ability and you can spin the Aygo X around in less than 2.9 metres, making it easy to duck and dive through rush-hour traffic and slot into a tight parking space.

The market for these city cars –even if they are billed as urban crossovers – is dwindling, both in terms of consumer appeal given the gridlock, and a waning appetitive amongst carmakers who add up the costs of necessary safety equipment and technology demanded by consumers and struggle to come up with a price that’s both profitable and appealing. Consumers want the same safety levels of larger more expensive cars but at a price befitting the size of the car. The sums just don’t add up for most manufacturers.

Toyota reckons, however it has made the maths work. Starting at €18,035, that’s a €2,000 price rise over the previous Aygo.

The Irish importer believes that while some potential buyers are switching to electric cars, there is still a market for conventionally-powered small cars and there are enough Irish buyers living in smaller towns or rural areas who don’t see the need for a larger car.

The Aygo X might be a city car to European marketing folks, but it’s equally a rural runabout for Irish motorists.