The 2014 Toyota Verso is the first car to benefit from the company's new partnership with BMW. It gets a BMW-sourced 1.6-litre diesel engine, which has been adapted to deliver enough performance and economy to keep up with rivals.
The 1.6 D-4D – which is near-identical to the engine in the outgoing Mini Cooper D – is 8% more efficient that the 2.0 D-4D engine it replaces, and brings the CO2 emissions down to 119g/km.
What’s the Toyota Verso 1.6 D-4D like to drive?
Even before you’ve got inside, you’ll notice that the Verso is remarkably compact for a seven-seat MPV. In fact, it’s about the same size as the five-seat Citroen C4 Picasso.
Its relatively small footprint will appeal to anyone nervous about parking a larger car, and most models get a rear camera that makes the Verso even easier to manoeuvre with confidence.
There’s a lot to like about the 1.6 diesel engine, too. It’s quiet on start up, and isn’t too gruff around town. Granted, it gets boomy under hard acceleration, but even the class leaders aren’t faultless on this front. There’s also very little vibration through the pedals and gear stick on the move.
More impressive is the wide power band, which gives the engine decent flexibility. We didn’t need to change down too often on the steep, twisty French roads we tested it on.
The Verso isn’t as involving to drive as a Ford S-Max, but it has a comfortable ride that soaks up bumps well. This isn’t at the expense of body control, though, as sway is kept in check through corners, which keeps occupants relatively upright.
Wind and road noise are well suppressed, too, meaning the Verso is a relatively refined long-distance cruiser.
What’s the Toyota Verso 1.6 D-4D like inside?
The 1.6 diesel is only available as a seven-seat model. The seats in the middle row all slide and fold independently, so the Verso is more practical than some smaller MPVs. However, the system isn’t as quick or easy to use as those in the best rivals.
It’s a relatively compact seven-seater, so boot space isn’t as generous as in larger MPVs, either. You get 155 litres with all the seats upright, or 440 if you stow the third row. By comparison, the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso has 632 litres in five-seat configuration.
Behind the wheel, there’s a reasonable range of adjustment for the driver, and the space inside means that four adults will be comfortable enough, too. The rear row of seats is suitable only for children, though.
The dashboard is uninspiring, but entirely functional. The controls are easy to get used to, and all the plastics and trim feel solid and well put together.
The latest Verso doesn’t get any extra equipment as standard, but the company’s new 'Touch 2' infotainment system is standard on all bar the base model. This 6.1-inch touch-screen set-up adds Bluetooth, a DAB radio and a rear-view camera. The optional 'Touch 2 and Go' system adds sat-nav and access to Google Street View.
Mid-spec Icon trim (at £21,995) is the best value for most buyers. It includes climate control, cruise control, front and rear electric windows, 16-inch alloys and the Touch 2 infotainment system.
Adding the sat-nav function costs an extra £650, or you can get it as standard on the new – and pricier – Trend trim.
Should I buy one?
The new 1.6 diesel engine makes the Toyota Verso more refined, more efficient and cheaper to run as a company car. If you rarely transport seven people, and care more about reliability than outright practicality, it remains worthy of consideration. However, larger rivals are now better value than ever.
The Vauxhall Zafira Tourer 1.6 CDTi is just as comfortable and even better to drive, and it's also more practical and hardly any more expensive. In fact, its lower CO2 emissions actually make it cheaper than the Toyota for company car users.
The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 e-HDi is where our money would go, though – it’s priced almost identically to comparable Verso models. True, it’s not quite as accomplished to drive, but its cabin is larger and more user-friendly. It’s also more efficient, more stylish and classier inside.
What Car? says…
Specification 1.6 D-4D
Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Price from £19,990
Torque 199lb ft
0-62mph 12.7 seconds
Top speed 115mph
Fuel economy 62.8mph