Toyota Aygo X: Do we need a mini-SUV ‘shaped by European cities’?

Ultra-compact crossover will replace current Aygo, but it’s a bit pricier

Toyota has launched the new Aygo X, a small city-car-sized crossover which will replace the current dinky Aygo next year. Interestingly, the Japanese giant does not only say that the engineering and styling of the Aygo X (it's pronounced as Aygo Cross) have been "shaped by European cities and the European way of life" but also went out of its way to ensure that the videos that accompanied the launch showed plenty of cycling, walking and public transport.

That, presumably, is to attempt to sidestep any criticism that a car designed for city life is inherently wrong at a time when we’re trying to reduce congestion and city centre air quality. It’s also, one might infer, an attempt to deflect criticism that the new Aygo X will come only as a petrol-engined model, with no electric nor even hybrid versions.

There may be sufficient deflection in the Aygo X’s diminutive dimensions and cute styling. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it looks very much like the Aygo X Prologue concept car that Toyota showed off earlier this year. Indeed, the only apparent change from concept to production is a set of somewhat more demure headlamps. It’s relatively tall and chunky, by city car standards, which is kind of the point: Toyota wants you to think of this as very much a crossover, a mini-SUV. Why? Because then it can sit more comfortably at a higher price point.

The increasing need to have high-end electronic safety aids fitted as standard has pushed the price points of cars like the Aygo up and away from the cheap-and-cheerful niche they once occupied. Toyota’s hope is that by giving customers the SUV shape and styling that they so clearly desire, they won’t notice the significant jump in price compared to the original Aygo.


"This represents a key access point to the brand," said Toyota's head of European marketing, Andrea Carlucci. "It's a very important segment. But more importantly, it's a segment that allows us to provide our customers with a very accessible solution, and a practical solution, for living in town."


Hand-wringing over the lack of electrified versions can be waved away, hopes Toyota, by the fact that the Aygo X will be powered by the smallest and most frugal petrol engine that the company makes – a tiny 1.0-litre three-cylinder unit.

It’ll develop 72hp and 93Nm of torque, to shift the Aygo X’s 940kg kerb weight. A five-speed manual gearbox will be standard, with the option of a CVT automatic. Toyota claims a fuel economy figure of 4.7 litres per 100km for the manual gearbox version, with CO2 emissions ranging from 107 to 110g/km.

The fact that it has a fuel-sipping engine (and also doesn’t have the baked-in high emissions that come with the mining for and construction of big batteries) is allied to the Aygo X’s small dimensions. At just 3.7 metres long (245mm longer than the old Aygo, with a 90mm longer wheelbase) and 1.5 metres tall (50mm taller than before), it’s about the smallest car you could ever accuse of being an SUV. It also has an exceptionally small 4.7-metre turning circle.

Unlike the old Aygo, which shared engines, chassis, body and even a factory with the Peugeot 108 and Citroen C1, the new Aygo X will only ever be made with a Toyota badge, and it shares its TNGA-B platform with the current Yaris. That, claims Toyota, means that it can be made much more refined and sophisticated than the old Aygo, again giving some justification for the higher price point.

Visual flair

The cabin gets the same displays and dials as used by the Yaris, but set into a dashboard that’s a touch less conservative, and has a little more visual flair to it. High-end options will include a JBL stereo system and even a full-length canvas sunroof. 18-inch wheels will also be available, but Toyota hasn’t forgotten that even small cars need to be practical – the boot is 60 litres larger than that of the outgoing Aygo, for a total of 258 litres, while there’s more elbow room up front.

The Aygo X also gets the Toyota Safety Sense system, which includes automated emergency braking, active lane assist and cruise control. That will come as standard on all models.

Irish prices have not yet been set for the Aygo X, but you can expect them to be significantly higher than the €14,895 asked for the cheapest version of the outgoing Aygo.

The Aygo X may well be frugal, and may well be able to argue the theory that small, petrol-powered cars can be as “green” as a larger, heavier electric car in a well-to-wheel sense, but it’s not the cheap starter car of old anymore.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring