By Jonathan Crouch
The fundamental elements of Toyota's Aygo city car may not have been unique but the way they were packaged certainly was. In second generation form, this little city car gained a bit more personality and attitude, an evolution built upon by the usefully revised version launched in 2018. It was more flexible to drive, more media-savvy, more. Aygo. But does it make sense as a used buy?
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 improved post-2018-era version of the second generation Toyota Aygo, we were told that it could.
You might think you know this car, but if you haven't tried the enhanced version of the MK2 model, launched here in the Summer of 2018, then you probably don't. Yes, it shares its mechanicals with the original design announced in 2014. No, it's not quite the same. Let's start with the fundamental thing that wasn't changed here. As before, this contender was produced as part of a joint Toyota/PSA Group venture that also brought us French alternatives sharing most of this car's important bits - namely Peugeot's 108 and Citroen's C1.
That's always been the case with the Aygo, but in its earlier forms, this model wasn't always completely successful in differentiating itself from its design cousins. That's something Toyota better addressed with the original version of this MK2 model in 2014 - and it was an approach further developed with this improved line-up. It's not only the look that was made more unique with this mid-term facelift but also the very specific way that buyers could personalise it to suit almost any kind of taste or preference. Toyota also treated this revised model to upgraded infotainment and more mid-range pulling power from the 1.0-litre engine.
In this form, the Aygo sold until the end of 2021, after which it was replaced by the Aygo X small crossover.
What You Get
There are lots of very capable city cars from the 2018-2021 period, but not many that are visually distinct enough to stick in your mind. Rather cleverly, this Aygo focused on exactly that approach. Hence the hefty dose of attitude that features here at the front end. With this revised model, we got a three-dimensional version of the X-shaped frontal graphic that had been introduced in two-dimension form on this car back in 2014. Its upper section is emphasised by the LED daytime running light-framing of the restyled headlamp clusters. The lower section of the 'X' frames the front grille. Extra opportunities for personalisation were provided by the way it was possible to colour-code the spoiler lip and the triangular patches beneath the headlamps.
Talking of personalisation, red or black could be chosen to decorate the front and rear bumper accents, the side sills and the roof decal that original buyers could add to emphasise this car's unique 'double-bubble' roof design. That roof could be had finished in either silver or in black with certain trim variants. Or original customers could equip it with an optional 'Funroof' folding fabric top on some versions. The silhouette's exact look and feel differs quite a lot between the rare three-door variant and the five-door model that extends its window graphic into the tail lamps, giving an impression of extra length.
Fewer changes feature with this updated MK2 Aygo once you get inside. The circular instrument binnacle got fresh colouring and a three-dimensional 'turbine'-style design. There was also body-coloured matching of the side air vents and some fresh upholstery trims. The main change kicked in towards the top of the range if you can stretch to a variant that upgraded the 7-inch x-touch centre-dash infotainment colour touchscreen to 'Display Audio' status. That means it'll be kitted out with voice control and 'Apple CarPlay' / 'Android Auto' smartphone mirroring.
In the rear, adults will find their knees brushing the front seat backs and their heads very close to the ceiling. But then, just how often do adults travel in the back of a citycar like this? And the boot? Well once you get your stuff in, you quickly realise the need to pack fairly light. There's just 168-litres of space on offer;
What to Look For
You'd expect a small modern-era Toyota to be pretty free of faults and, by and large, most of the buyers in our ownership survey seemed pretty satisfied. However, a few issues have surfaced. The clutch problems that afflicted the previous generation pre-2014 Aygo aren't as prevalent here but they still exist; check the clutch biting point and gear engagement on your test drive. We heard a few reports of exhaust issues too, evidenced by a growly sound from the tailpipes. In one instance, the airbag warning light came on erroneously on the dash. In another, there was a water leak on the front footwell. And in another, a faulty seal caused the car to ice up on the inside on cold mornings. Otherwise, it's just a case of insisting on a fully stamped-up service record, checking any alloy wheels for chips and scrapes and inspecting the rear of the interior for any child damage.
Most Aygo buyers we came across seemed satisfied. There was a report of a leaky boot. And apparently, the Bluetooth won't pair if the car's been parked on a hot day for too long: make sure that the central screen phone pairing system works properly for your handset. One customer complained of brake squealing and juddering. And another customer complained of window glass rattling. In another case, the hubcap nuts went rusty in all four wheels.
(approx based on a 2018 Aygo 1.0 - Ex Vat) Expect to pay around £3 for an oil filter, around £5 for an air filter and around £6-£22 for a wiper blade. Front brake pads vary in price between £13-£22 for a set. For front brake discs, think around £40-£50 for a pair. A radiator costs in the £100 bracket. A starter motor is around £93. A pollen filter is around £13-£14. A water pump is around £55 - with pricier brands up at around £126.
On the Road
As it did in its original form, this MK2 Aygo features a 1.0-litre three cylinder VVT-i petrol engine, though at this updated model's launch in 2018, Toyota was keen to tell us that this unit had been extensively overhauled as part of the switch to Euro 6.2-specification. Lots of tinkering went into improving mid-range pulling power, which means you won't have to change down quite as often if you're darting for a sudden gap in the traffic. Plus pulling away in first and second gear is slightly easier. Efficiency was better too. A manual version can manage 68.9mpg on the combined cycle and 93g/km of CO2 and the alternative 'x-shift' robotised manual variant gets pretty close to those WLTP figures too. This showing makes this car about 20% cheaper to run than most of its rivals from this period, something helped hugely by the fact that this car is so much lighter than most of them.
Of course, you can't have everything. The extra torque just mentioned is welcome but the normally aspirated powerplant still doesn't develop very much of it; peak power isn't developed until you thrash the thing up to 4,400rpm. So the little engine certainly makes its presence felt if, say, you're accelerating up a motorway slip road or cruising at the legal limit - at which point, unlike some other modern citycars, this Aygo is certainly well out of its comfort zone. On the plus side, that light weight makes the Aygo feel light and chuckable through the bends. And of course in town, it feels right in its comfort zone with light steering, a tight turning circle and great all round visibility aided on most models by a standard reversing camera.
And in summary? Well Toyota's customer research reveals that the way a city car looks is the most important factor in influencing people to buy it. To be frank, the market's known that for some time, so it's surprising that more brands in this segment haven't taken this reality more to heart in designing interesting and visually expressive contenders in this class.
With this updated version of the MK2 Aygo, Toyota did - which is why this car, in period the sector's third best seller, regularly racked up more sales than apparently more complete entrants in this segment. It's all about getting your priorities right. This car managed to do just that.