It certainly has a lot more of its own identity this time round.
So, what makes a car feel ‘fun’? Sprightly handling? Cheeky looks? Clever marketing? And can an urban runabout really qualify for purchase on those grounds? With this model, the second generation Toyota Aygo, we’re told that it can.
Citycar users are more loyal to petrol power than any other group of motorists and Toyota has been more loyal to the particular petrol engine used than you’d expect a brand to be. Its fundamentals do, after all, date all the way back to the launch of the first generation Aygo model.
Could you comfortably venture further afield in this car? Potentially yes. Both wind and road noise have been more effectively suppressed at typical A-road speeds to make that more possible and you certainly notice the difference on the motorway.
Toyota’s engineers – rightly – have been so mindful of the need to preserve a decent standard of ride quality and because they have been, this car handles road humps and potholes very well. It’s that bit better in this respect than before. In fact, almost everything about this second generation car is that bit better than before. No radical steps have been taken: the car just feels that bit more sophisticated and grown up.
Terai and his team set out to create something very different from the inoffensive first generation version of this model, noting that in a crowded marketplace, it’s better to have a design that half your potential customers love rather than one that nobody objects to. So this one is fitted as standard with a hefty dose of attitude.
The X-graphic that dominates the grille section is normally black, but with paler colours can be specified in lighter shades for a contrasting look that extends right back to the door mirrors. It doesn’t end there either. The rear bumper insert, the front bumper and of course the alloy wheels can all be colour-matched to suit your preference, with the different panels exchangeable by your dealer within minutes. As a result, Aygo folk can refresh the look of their cars cheaply and easily, possibly even exchanging colours with another owner at little or no cost.
Talking of a contrasting look, the designers have even gone to the trouble of giving this car its own unique so-called ‘double-bubble’ roof, a feature that extrovert owners can highlight with coloured decals. That roof has been designed to accommodate a retractable fabric folding top and has been lowered slightly in comparison to the previous generation model, with the front A-pillar moved slightly forwards to create a balanced yet energetically forward-leaning posture. In profile the Aygo has a boldly sloping beltline that flows back into a neat pair of forward-angled rear light clusters, though the exact look and feel differs between the three-door variant and the five-door model.
At the rear is an integrated roof spoiler, the idea has been to mirror the frontal design statement, but what’s far more obvious is that the second generation Aygo has carried over its predecessor's signature design element, a glass rear hatch that replaces a conventional tailgate.
As with the exterior, personalisation rules, which is why the instrument panel, the centre console, the air vents, the gearshift knob and the gear lever surround can all easily be changed to a colour of your choosing, even after years of ownership.
At first glance, it would be entirely understandable if you felt that this second Aygo interpretation was a case of style over substance. The wheelbase is still the same, you still find a 1. 0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine beneath the bonnet and the basic handling dynamics are little changed. Even the interior accommodation is much the same.
Despite all of that though, there’s no doubt that the updates that have created this second generation Aygo really bring it into contention in this segment. The cabin now feels far more modern, the clever x-touch infotainment system is a must-have and it's hard to think of a bolder, more progressive-looking citycar for sale at any price. In short, this once conservative model now has real presence and desirability.
From being forgettable, this car is now genuinely likeable – and there’s a world of difference between those two attributes. You could imagine caring about this Toyota – feeling a genuine sense of pride in ownership. If that was Toyota’s aim, then the mission’s been accomplished.