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Toyota Aygo First Drive

Beloved by owners, bemoaned by automotive enthusiasts, championed by first time car buyers, no car is as polarizing as the Toyota Aygo. In the Free State, it may be the only thing more abundant than sunshine (and the Kia Picanto). While other automakers have low-priced entry level cars, or tout future solutions, the Aygo delivers real world slouchy results here-and-now.

I recently got to drive the next generation in and around the Free State, and got a deep dive with new, first time buyers. I’ve distilled a mountain of data to bring you all the essentials of the 2016 Toyota Aygo.

First, its got new bones. Riding on Toyota’s new TNGA architecture – a straightforward acronym for Toyota New Global Architecture – the world’s biggest automaker looked to improve dynamics, reduce costs, and allow the sharing of parts necessary to be competitive in the coming decades.

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The new underpinnings allowed engineers to place the major components – such as the engine – just a tad lower than on the current Aygo, the 10 mm difference helps reduce body-roll and allows for a more stable drive. Significant attention was paid to noise and vibration harshness, and the liberal use of sealers and new bonding techniques make this the quietest Aygo yet.

The new characterful 51 kW 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine has the best thermal properties in its class. Torque output weighs in at 95 Nm delivered at 4300 rpm which echoes its much intended purpose: fuel economy. My entire ride from Johannesburg to Kroonstad never bothered the petrol indicator, its the uphill until Welkom that brought out its true colours. 

As far as styling, the exterior of the Aygo has evolved with new headlights, a lower cowl in the front, and sculpting on the sides. Though not dramatically different if you see one in passing by, exterior styling is more appealing with focus on the X grille. The interior receives a noticeable update. The dash and center console look more similar to the Toyota Auris and Yaris vehicles, which seems to work well here. The touch display seems to hide all the clutter away, perfectly at that. Its a pitty the steering features no multimedia controls. 

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Simply put, the new Aygo can handle surprisingly-, nay, scratch that, shockingly well. Really. No, it’s not a sports car. But for a car that can get you more than 100km for 4.4l of petrol and For those that want a (slightly) more spirited drive, which as its name suggests eases up on the throttle, and allows for more power. Acceleration is smooth and faster than I expected, or any Aygo driver will likely ever need, for that matter. The odd change down is required for those uphill feats, lord knows the 1l engine can only handle that much.

We tossed the petite petrol-sipper along the course with — day I say it — zeal, and were pleasantly surprised. The thing is, if Toyota had this much success already—three million-plus models floating around—with the car’s previous dynamics, what will happen with the new, decidedly improved car?

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The second generation Aygo has gotten the full work over. New design inside and out—not dramatic, but, better perhaps—complemented by much better performance, and the single most important thing: greater fuel economy than the current generation. The 2016 Toyota Aygo moves to A-segment needle in the right direction.

Will it be able to bring auto enthusiasts into the fold with its improved handling? Don’t bet on it. Will it sell more, and likely be more pleasing for owners of the first-gen? Absolutely.

The entry-level Aygo 1.0 starts at R138 900 after delivery, while the top trim X-play in black or silver will put you just over the R139 900 mark.

Papi Mabele
Tech enthusiast at heart. Lover of all things digital. Papi is the founder of SA Vibe and has been sharing his love for gadgetry since 2010. Papi sees no need for wearable tech in his busy schedule and considers the Xbox One as non existant. He may come across as bias at times, and still holds a grudge at BlackBerry for creating the 8520.