New Toyota Verso 'is best MPV to drive'

* Engineers make bold claim * New Verso unveiled in Geneva * On sale in April...

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Jim Holder
02 March 2009

New Toyota Verso 'is best MPV to drive'

The new Toyota Verso is the best MPV available to drive, according to company officials.

Although the new car, which goes on sale in April, is visually similar to the current model, Toyota says it has been changed significantly under the skin, and been engineered to be appeal to keen drivers.

'Immediately our goal was to find the right balance of practicality and versatility without letting the car become boring,' said Masato Katsumata, Vice-President Reasearcg & Development at Toyota Motor Europe.

'Most MPVs rate practicality over driving, but the Verso is different. We wanted a car that would satisfy customers' practical needs, but also their driving needs. That meant getting the ride and handling right.'

The car was unveiled ahead of tomorrow's Geneva motor show, and includes an improved flat-7 seating system that allows all five of the rear seats to be folded flat. In total, Toyota says there are 32 possible seating variations possible.

It will go on sale with a choice of 1.6- and 1.8-litre petrol engines and a 2.0-litre diesel, all of which will be mated with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. However, the 1.8-litre petrol engine will have a six-speed automatic 'box as an option.

A 2.2-litre diesel linked to a six-speed CVT gearbox will join the line-up at a later date.

Although exact figures haven't been released, Toyota says that power from the reworked engines is increased by up to 20%, while fuel economy and emissions have been improved by up to 12%.

Emissions are reduced by a drag co-efficient of just 0.295, which helps the car cut through the air more efficiently.

Toyota has also widened the car's front and rear, and revised its suspension to improve handling, body control, stability and ride comfort.

Other changes include the addition of stability control plus curtain airbags that extend to the third row of seats as standard.

No prices have been released, but they are expected to start from around £15,000.