April 2009

Toyota Verso 2.0 D 130 T Spirit

Bold styling gives the Verso road presence

April 2009

picture of car from the frontpicture of car from the rearpicture of car interiorpicture of car in detail

Overall rating

3.5 out of 5 stars


  • Bolder styling is better looking
  • Highly practical interior
  • Quiet and comfortable ride
  • Impressive safety levels


  • Interior is a little plain
  • Uninvigorating to drive
  • Engine choices are limited
  • Limited boot space with rear bench in place

Having undergone a name change from Corolla Verso to just Verso mid-way through the last generation's life-cycle, Toyota aims to shed the last vestiges of association with the old hatchback model with the all new Verso, very definitely a seven-seat MPV model in its own right.

Manufacturers have been using the tactic of adding a more spacious body and a third row of seats to their hatchback models in order to create an MPV version for some time now. While it was previously acceptable to name the models to reflect their pragmatic origins, they have become so popular that car-makers are now keen to market them as models in their own right.

Although it may not have a platform of its own, the latest version of Toyota's Verso has clearly been envisaged as a seven-seater people carrier right from the off. A freshly styled body incorporating the new Toyota styling cues such as large bumpers and lamp units and a distinctive side profile with a dynamic swoosh not only give the model greater presence and a more distinct look, but also aid aerodynamics as part of the brand's Optimal Drive programme.

The engines reflect the Optimal Drive strategy too, with improved fuel efficiency and lowered emissions. An advanced 1.8-litre petrol with a six-speed manual or CVT transmission is available, along with an efficient 2.0-litre diesel mated to a six-speed manual transmission. A higher powered 2.2-litre version of the D4-D unit will join the range some time after the initial launch with a new six-speed automatic gearbox.

The Verso name is derived from 'versatility', and it shows in the all new interior. Using the Easy Flat-7 folding system, the collapsible seats are individually adjustable making the model extremely practical. A strong focus on family friendliness sees copious storage and, in the front, the cabin has been arranged to make driving as relaxing as possible. A high level of safety will also ease parent's minds.

Our verdict on the Toyota Verso 2.0 D 130 T Spirit

With a more up-to-date look and feel, the new Verso is an improvement over the previous generation. Highly practical and well-equipped, Toyota has clearly paid attention to the needs of families. It's not the most exciting of vehicles even for the MPV segment, offering an extremely competent but un-invigorating driving experience, but it certainly boasts more stylish looks. Greater efficiency is a real bonus, although a more diverse engine range would be welcome.


Toyota's Optimal Drive programme means it attempts to maximise the fuel efficiency of all of its models, and the Verso is no exception. The 2.0-litre diesel engine boasts a 13 per cent reduction in fuel consumption, while the petrol achieves ten per cent. Toyota reliability ought to keep servicing and maintenance costs down. Verso prices compete well within the segment considering the level of equipment - including safety technologies - as standard.

Space and practicality

Practicality is clearly the Verso's forte. Although able to operate as a permanent seven-seater, the individually adjustable seats mean it can also be used as a six, five, four or three-seater or even a van. Folding and raising the seats is a simple operation. A myriad of cup-holders and cubby holes including trays under the floor for the rear rows and a twin glovebox assembly makes the model a very practical family vehicle. A large cabin offers good headroom and legroom is adjustable in the rear. The only downside is a lack of luggage space with the third row in place.

Controls and display

The Verso's electric power steering, adjustable steering column, light pedals and conveniently positioned gear lever mean the controls are well suited to a relaxed driving style. A reasonably concise centre console assembly is easy to navigate, and the essential controls are located in the usual hotspots. The same cannot be said of the instrument binnacle. It has been moved to an excellent location in the centre of the dash but angled towards the driver. Clearly lit, well shaded from glare and in peripheral vision when watching the road, it's a big success. Audio buttons are present on the steering wheel, while gearshift paddles are also present for the Multdrive S transmission.


With a spacious and highly adjustable interior, the Verso represents a very comfortable way to transport up to seven people. Equipment levels rise with specification, but air-con is standard and the sturdy seats are supportive across the range. The driver can benefits from cruise control and auto lights and wipers, depending on trim level. The T-Spirit model is very well-equipped in this regard. Excellent refinement levels make the model a very pleasant car to ride in.

Car security

Perimeter protection is included as standard as part of the Verso's comprehensive, Thatcham Category one approved alarm. An electric steering lock and key deactivated immobiliser also aid security. Concealed storage in the boot and in trays under the seats is great for concealing valuables.

Car safety

The Verso boasts an impressive array of advanced safety systems, including a system to counteract over-steer by applying torque to the steering wheel. This is part of the stability control system, which works alongside traction control, hill-start assist and ABS with EBD. Seven airbags are standard, as are anti-whiplash headrests. Naturally, the Verso's chassis and shell are designed to offer as much protection as possible in the event of a crash.

Driver appeal

Whether opting for the petrol or diesel engine options, the Verso fails to excite in the driving stakes. Clearly, it is not intended to offer race-car performance, but a lack of steering feedback and an isolated feel from the driver's seat means the model lacks dynamism. On the plus side, that isolated feel comes courtesy of a very cosseting and refined ride and the model feels very secure on the road. The petrol variant, particularly in combination with the smooth Multidrive S CVT gearbox makes for extremely relaxed progress thanks to very progressive power delivery. The 2.0-litre diesel is no less pleasant if a little noisier, and most of its pep can be found low down in the rev range.

Family car appeal

A great asset for a family of up to seven, the Verso is also a highly practical car for families with fewer children. The collapsible seats are always available when required but when not, simply fold out of sight. With a footprint no larger than that of a medium-sized family hatchback the Verso is a very versatile machine.

First car appeal

Unless boasting a houseful of children at a young age or operating a mini-bus service, it is unlikely that young drivers will find much in the Toyota Verso to meet their needs or desires. The model is aimed more directly at families.

Quality and image

Few manufacturer's can boast a reliability record as impeccable as Toyota's and build quality and reliability is rarely in doubt with any of the manufacturer's products. Interior plastics are not necessarily of the highest quality, but they are robust and well assembled. As a people carrier, the Verso is unlikely to boast much in the way of kerb appeal, but the new model's smarter styling helps add a little glamour.


A highly accessible model thanks to well proportioned doors and a very sensible floor height, the Verso should pose no problems for even the least flexible. The rear seats are naturally less accessible, but the easily adjusted second row offers better access than might be imagined. The boot door, although not particularly deep, is wide and the load space level for easy access to the boot.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

A four-speaker sound system is standard on the base model, but the six-speaker system present on the upper trim levels does a better job of filling the large cabin. Bluetooth is also present on the upper trim levels along with an additional input for an MP3 player. Sat-nav is an optional extra. The basic system is intuitive and hassle-free to operate with clearly labelled buttons.

Colours and trim

Thanks to the more fluid, bolder styling of the latest generation Toyota Verso, the model looks good across the range of available colours, with the palette focussing on lighter shades. Inside, there's a lot of plastic on show, but Toyota has attempted to liven up an otherwise bland fascia by using a mixture of light and dark shades and some metal effect trim, which works to an extent. Three levels are available, but inside the difference will mostly be notable through equipment specification, rather than finishing materials.


Despite the additional flair to its styling, the Verso retains a largely square shape, making it easy to judge the proportions. The turning circle is adequate and the steering light at low speed. Top spec models have a rear facing camera with the image displayed in the rear view mirror.

Spare wheel

Space saver fitted as standard or puncture repair kit with where panoramic roof is specified.

Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.8-litre (145bhp). Diesel engine options - 2.2-litre (124bhp); 2.2-litre (148bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox, six-speed automatic gearbox, Multidrive S CVT gearbox. Trim levels: T2, SR T Spirit.

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Mazda 5 Spacious MPV with flexible interior

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