After a brief lull in popularity, trend analysts are once again forecasting that people carriers, especially compact MPVs, will be the darlings of the automotive world as more and more young families outgrow their subcompact and compact sedans and fall for the seductive charms of space that only this breed of vehicle can offer.
A large number will, of course, upgrade to an SUV, but there are still many who neither need, nor want the bulk and height of a cross-over. For these discerning customers, roominess, sophistication and a car-like driving experience are paramount. And, that’s exactly what they get in the re-designed 2013 Toyota Verso.
As Kerry Roodt, General Manager of Marketing Communications, points out: “Building on the versatility, practicality and roominess of the current generation model, the 2013 Verso brings greater levels of style, dynamism and comfort to the range. It features Toyota’s new design language with a clear family identity, an improved interior as well as enhanced driving dynamics and NVH levels. The clincher is that ‘versatile’ and ‘stylish’ are precisely what many people are looking for when considering the sobering purchase of buying a new family car in the current climate.”
The new Verso represents a fresh, more powerful and sophisticated interpretation of the third generation Toyota MPV’s distinctive, dual-zone styling. It retains the dynamic, full-length character line which delineates the bonnet and cabin from the chassis and rear loadspace in profile.
Up front, the new Verso features Toyota’s now familiar styling cues, hallmarking it as the latest model in the Toyota family line-up. The attractive new front and rear styling has been designed to reduce the perception of height whilst placing an emphasis on width and length.
A cornerstone of the new face is the large, trapezoidal lower grille set within a redesigned front bumper, and a smaller upper grille running full width between the new headlamps. Dominated by a new, larger Toyota badge which is set lower than its predecessor, the upper grille features a central, chrome-plated horizontal trim bar which is visually extended into the headlamp clusters to accentuate the width of the new Verso.
Narrower and more aggressively styled, the headlamp clusters themselves incorporate new Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) and come with High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps on the TX (High) grade. The large lower grille is flanked by integral foglamps with chrome surround detailing. It features a piano black paint finish, twin chrome strips and a full-width, body-coloured lip spoiler, once again accentuating the width of the new Verso and emphasising its broad, planted stance. (Please note that the chrome detailing is reserved for the TX models.)
In profile, the new Verso retains the model’s trademark, dual-zone styling. This is clearly expressed by a strong character line which flows from the leading edge of the front bumper, rising through the lower edge of the doors before sweeping upwards through the C pillar to define the roof-mounted spoiler.
The Verso profile is enhanced through smaller, more dynamic, foldable door mirrors featuring integrated turn signal lights, and a choice of two wheels (16” alloys for the SX and TX grades and 16” steel wheels with aero caps for the entry-level S model).
To the rear, a new bumper design incorporates an integral low level diffuser, emphasising the width and stability of the new model. The rear lamp clusters feature colour changes to the centre and outer lenses, and, on the boot lid, the Toyota badge is emphasised through the application of a rear license plate garnish
The new Verso will be available in a choice of seven exterior colours, of which one is new, namely the Dark Steel Mica.
The new frontal design and smaller door mirrors have helped improve Verso’s aerodynamic performance by up to 10 per cent. This has increased overall efficiency, delivered better NVH and a more comfortable ride, as well as increased vehicle stability.
Wind tunnel analysis focused on harmonising the bodywork design, so there was no need to make use of secondary or add-on aerodynamic trim elements. Particular attention was paid to the flow of air beneath the car, with a smooth underfloor with engine, fuel tank and rear floor covers, wheel spats and rear wing-shaped vertical fin. These all have a streamlining effect, control vertical body movement and optimise the front and rear lift coefficients. The result is a flatter straight-line ride, more controlled yaw response and better rear stability.
The new Verso interior features the extensive use of new trim detailing and a softer feeling, satin black paint finish to enhance perceived cabin quality throughout. The upper glove box is finished in soft touch material, and the door trim, armrest and steering wheel are clad in extra-soft leather.
Warm satin chrome trim highlights have been applied to the driver’s instrument surrounds, the instrument binnacle hood rim, the air vents, instrument panel, gear shift bezel and door assist grips. The door handle itself is now finished in a new, two-layer paint coating.
The presentation of instrumentation and switchgear has been harmonised through more consistent lighting and font sizing. The driver’s meters are now back-lit in white for improved clarity and legibility, whilst the air conditioning dials and display, and all switchgear including window switches are illuminated in a deep orange for legibility without excessive distraction after dark.
A new rheostat switch allows for the simultaneous adjustment of both combination meter and all switchgear illumination, giving consistency to backlighting brightness and intensity throughout the interior.
S (Entry) and SX (Mid) grade models feature a range of new seat fabrics. Seat bolster support has been improved on all grades, the bolsters themselves finished in a smoother more durable upholstery.
TX (High) grade models are equipped with leather bolsters with double stitching to match that of the armrests. The flagship models are also equipped with Smart Entry & Push Start whilst other grades are available with a folding jack knife key.
Despite its highly compact packaging, the Verso offers exceptional interior roominess, and boasts a best-in-class 975 mm couple distance between the first and second row of seats.
The Toyota Easy Flat-7 seating system offers true MPV flexibility, with 32 different seating permutations. Providing individual seats in both second and third rows, and a second row seat sliding range of 195 mm, it is acknowledged as one of the most practical, flexible and intuitive seating designs available.
Completely flat with second and third row seats folded, the new Verso’s loadspace is 1,575 mm long and 1,430 mm wide. With all three seating rows in place, the luggage volume measures 155 litres. With the third row seats folded, it rises to 440 litres.
The Trunk Management system, located beneath the rear loadspace, is ideal for storing valuable items out of view. Its capacity varies according to five or seven seat usage. This space also provides storage for the luggage tonneau cover when not in use.
As befits a true Multi-Purpose Vehicle, the new Verso offers a comprehensive range of storage compartments, including a twin compartment glovebox featuring a cooled upper section large enough to hold a 1.5 litre bottle and an 8.2 litre lower section.
It also has a spacious centre console box, generous door pockets, seat back storage beneath aviation-style, fold out tables with integral cupholders (SX & TX), a drawer beneath the front passenger seat (SX & TX), second row underfloor storage, an overhead console incorporating a conversation mirror (SX & TX), as well as driver and passenger pockets for mobile phone and MP3 player storage.
Improved Standard Equipment
The new Verso carries over the three grade strategy of its predecessor. However, with an enhanced interior and an increase in standard equipment for each grade, it now represents even better value for money.
S grade model standard equipment now includes front foglamps and the addition of heating and integrated turn signal lights to the electrically adjustable door mirrors.
To the already comprehensive S grade, SX grade adds electrically folding door mirrors, a piano black paint finish front license garnish, a height adjustable front passenger seat, two-tone 16” machine faced alloy wheels, cruise control and Toyota’s touch-screen display screen, which incorporates a back monitor camera.
TX grade adds exterior chrome accents, leather seat bolsters, armrest and door trim with double stitching. It features Smart Entry with push start, dual zone automatic air-conditioning, a Sensor Pack (automatic wiper and headlamp operation and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, rear side window sunshades and High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps.
The new Verso is equipped with a comprehensive range of active, passive and pedestrian safety features. Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) is now standard across the range, including the S grade model. With the launch of the current generation model, it achieved a maximum, 5-star Euro NCAP crash test rating.
Three engines are available for new Verso in SA, all benefitting from the wide ranging advanced technologies and internal improvement programmes of Toyota Optimal Drive.
The range comprises two Valvematic petrol engines – a 1.6 and a 1.8 – and Toyota’s renowned 2.0 D-4D.
The 97kW 1.6 Valvematic is matched to a six-speed manual transmission and posts a combined cycle fuel economy of 6,8L/100km and 100km/h comes up in 11,7 seconds.
The 108kW 1.8 Valvematic is available with a choice of six-speed manual transmission or Toyota’s Multidrive S CVT. The latter has been adjusted to give a more “stepped” gear shift feel, with engine revs building in a way that is more closely aligned to vehicle acceleration. The official fuel consumption figures for the manual and CVT respectively are 7L/100km and 7,1L/100km. The 0-100km/h dash is dispatched in 10,4 seconds and 11,1 seconds for the CVT.
The 2.0 D-4D turbo diesel powerplant is a real peach of an engine. Using a six-speed manual transmission, it gives better torque delivery at low engine speeds and less combustion noise. 91kW of power are available at 3600rpm and 310Nm comes on stream between 1600 and 2400rpm. This translates into a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 5,5L/100km and a sprint time (to 100km/h) of 10,1 seconds.
The new Verso benefits from a three year/100,000km warranty and comes with a standard five-year/ 90 000 km service plan. The new models are also supported by the ToyotaCare Roadside Assistance Programme which entitles customers to 24-hour roadside assistance, ensuring ultimate peace-of-mind motoring.