The Toyota Proace Verso is an attempt by the carmaker to offer consumers a van that offers good levels of space, practicality and everyday usability, but retains the all-important Toyota build quality and reliability. With the Proace, it also looks to give drivers multiple options when picking a new van, be it for passenger transportation or simple load-lugging.
The 'Compact Family' edition that we've tested comes fitted with eight seats, which allows it to take a good amount of passengers. As the name suggests, it's best suited to family use, and would suit those looking to make frequent trips to school, as well as to the supermarket.
Our 'Compact' edition had a usable 282 litres of boot space with all of the seats raised, though Medium and Long versions of the van feature 627 and 977 litres of space respectively. However, with the third row of seats removed, even the 'Compact' will return an impressive 1,242 litres of load area. In any format, the Proace is a versatile van to choose.
Able to offer something for everyone, the Proace Verso is a good option if you're looking to transport a good amount of items – or people – in comfort. Modern vans are driving more like road cars, and the Proace is no exception to this, thanks to plenty of refinement and a surprising lack of road and wind noise.
Although the ride height is high – it is a van, after all – your positioning in front of the steering wheel doesn't feel alien, while the control weights all feel as if they could be from any Toyota car. That's no bad thing, as it gives you plenty of confidence with the van, as well as making it easier to place on the road.
Our verdict on the Toyota Proace Verso
The Proace is a fine choice for anyone looking at buying a usable, dependable but road-friendly van. With many different layout choices, it's easy to find the right one, depending on a driver's particular needs. Offering excellent refinement, it definitely takes the fight to rival manufacturers, and gives a more premium approach to the traditional van set-up. Priced from GBP30,000, it's not bad value either.
Thanks to a range of economical diesel engines, the everyday running of the Proace Verso won't break the bank. The range-topping 2.0-litre engine returns 53.3mpg combined, while the smaller 1.6-litre engine will bring with it a figure of 54.3mpg. Prices for the standard panel van start at GBP22,335, which includes an excellent five-year warranty, meaning servicing costs will be non-existent initially.
Space and practicality
Thanks to an easily adapted luggage area, the Proace Verso can swap between a people mover to a capable luggage carrier. The standard Compact van, without seats, offers a maximum 1,000kg payload. If you up to the Medium Proace, you'll find a maximum payload of 1,400kg, while the Long version brings with it the same payload capacity but with a much larger load volume. Put simply, if you have a certain need, there's a Proace for it.
Controls and display
Inside, the Proace Verso's displays are exceptionally easy to read, even in low light. The infotainment system incorporated on higher-end models is responsive, while the screen itself is clear. All of the controls have a robustness to them, and feel as though they could deal with the abuse from either a family or a building site. The steering wheel-mounted controls work well, too. It might not be the prettiest of cabins, but everything is well screwed together.
With well-worked suspension, the Proace rides very well and deals with lumps and bumps in the road with a minimal amount of fuss. There's a fair amount of body roll through faster corners, but it deals with its weight well for the most part. The seats have a good amount of support to them, while passengers in the back are sat in a position that should keep them comfortable for a number of hours.
All vans come equipped with central locking, no matter which grade. These operate on all doors, including the sliding ones in Verso versions. There's also an alarm fitted as standard too. Although not at the very top end of security system, it's more than enough to keep the van safe and secure. Also, with relatively subtle colours it doesn't stand out too much, which means it shouldn't be a target for opportunistic thieves.
The Proace Verso managed a five-star rating following its Euro NCAP testing, which puts it in good stead in terms of safety. Add to that stability control, hill start assist and front and side airbags, and you have a van that is extremely safe to be in. 'Comfort' cars get a forward collision warning system, too.
As a van, the Proace Verso isn't going to attract in keen drivers. It's large, relatively cumbersome and not exactly quick enough to set the pulse racing. That said, it does offer a relatively keen driving experience, though the five-speed gearbox is a little on the notchy side. It was never going to resemble a sports car, but the Proace – especially in smaller-sized versions – isn't as uninvolving to drive as you'd think.
Family car appeal
In Verso form, the Proace is a very attractive family vehicle. It's got enough space for the whole family and their luggage, while it can be transformed into a van capable of dealing with birthday parties or cycling trips. It doesn't have the on-road characteristics of a seven-seat car, but then if you're looking for out-and-out storage space, then the Proace is a very good choice indeed.
First car appeal
Unless a driver immediately wants to transport all of their friends around after passing their test, the Proace Verso really isn't the ideal first car. However, with engines on the smaller side insurance costs wouldn't be too high. Rather large, it makes for a difficult vehicle to park, which isn't great for newly qualified drivers.
Quality and image
Toyota is certainly doing well of late in terms of image, creating cars that trade on reliability and robustness. The Proace is no different, offering drivers a solid brand image to sit alongside an equally well-made van. Though lacking the 'premium' appeal given off by rivals such as Volkswagen, Toyota is a name that people trust – something that remains important in the van market. The Proace is also a smartly designed van, which looks just at home in the city as it does on the site.
Thanks to large sliding doors, the Proace Verso is exceptionally easy to get in and out of. It's a little higher off the ground than a regular car though, which means that entering and exiting the front cab requires a little more effort. Once inside though, there's plenty of space to move around – even with all rows of seats fitted. There's a good amount of knee room for all, too.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
Of course, being a van, the Proace Verso was never destined to be laden with technology. That said, even base cars come with DAB radios. Move up to Comfort trim and you'll find a dashboard information display. Add the premium option pack and the Comfort Proace will be equipped with Toyota's Pro-Touch touchscreen infotainment system, as well as 17-inch alloy wheels, which help lift the exterior of the van.
Colours and trim
There's a good variety of colours available with the Proace Verso, though the slab-sided nature of it does tend to suit darker shades. With regard to trims, there are just two – Base and Comfort. Even Base-specification cars get remote central locking and cruise control, as well as electric windows. When it comes to standard equipment the Proace does well, offering drivers of even lower-spec cars a good amount of usable features.
The Compact Proace Verso isn't too tricky to park, thanks to a smaller-than-expected size and a decent amount of visibility. This is certainly the case in 'Family' cars, which have large side windows. However, with standard panel van editions this is taken away, making parking that little bit harder. With light steering, it's quite easy to manoeuvre the Proace Verso, which means that parking isn't the chore that it is in some rival vans.
Emergency tyre repair kit supplied as standard.
Diesel engines: 1.6-litre; 2.0-litre. Transmission options: Five speed manual. Trim levels: Base; Comfort
- Volkswagen Transporter Has the brand appeal, but is more expensive
- Ford Transit A legendary name in the van world, and well priced too
- Vauxhall Vivaro Similar to the Proace, but with different styling
- Fiat Doblo Cargo One of the smaller vans, but still practical