Toyota Verso 2.0 D-4D diesel Icon road test

  • We drive the updated practical people carrier
  • Revised styling and myriad improvements
  • Available to order now, prices starting at £17,495

If you're looking for a spacious, practical and reliable new car then you could consider the facelifted Toyota Verso.

The Verso, which is available with seven seats, has been around since 2009. Ideal for families, it features numerous seating combinations and lots of useful touches.

Externally, the new Verso benefits from changes that bring its look in line with other recent Toyota models, like the Auris.

Most notably it features a new front end design, daytime running lights, more aerodynamic door mirrors and different wheels. The car certainly looks sharper and more appealing than the pre-facelift version.

Inside the revisions are less noticeable. There have been minor tweaks to various trims, while new materials and fabrics are used to improve the look, feel and durability of the cabin. The upgrades do have a positive effect but the cabin still lags behind rivals in terms of finish and style.

Not all of the alterations are cosmetic. Both the suspension and steering has been adjusted, while the new front-end design has improved the Verso's aerodynamics. Toyota has also focused on making the new Verso quieter - something it has been very successful in doing.

Three engines are available: a 2.0-litre diesel, a 1.6-litre petrol or a 1.8-litre petrol. We tested the 2.0-litre diesel version of the Verso, which outputs 122bhp and 310Nm of pulling power. That grants the Verso a 0-62mph time of 11.3 seconds and a top speed of 115mph.

It's likely that this engine will appeal to many due to its combination of performance and efficiency. Average claimed fuel consumption is a sensible 57.6mpg, while emissions of 129g/km of CO2 - a 10g/km reduction compared to the previous model - means yearly road tax of £100. There's plenty of pulling power on offer and the engine is smooth and refined, although it does become breathless after 4,000RPM.

This isn't a problem, however, as the six-speed manual gearbox offers a good selection of ratios and the diesel's low-down pull means it's quite happy to tick along at low speeds in higher gears. This reduces the need for frequent gear changes.

Out on the road the Verso proves competent and unobtrusive. The ride is bordering on the firm side for a people carrier but driving the Toyota is a simple and stress-free affair. There's enough weight to the steering to allow for precise cornering yet it's light enough for manoeuvring at low speeds, while the brakes provide hassle-free stopping power.

It's a practical car too. There's plenty of interior space, numerous storage points and many useful features like a cooled upper glove box. Both front and rear seats are relatively comfortable but if you do intend to use the additional rear row of seats it's worth bearing in mind that they're really only suitable for children.

Using all seven seats also greatly decreases the rear boot space that's available. With five seats in place there's 440 litres of boot space on offer, but utilising the seven-seat configuration means only 155 litres of boot space. That's room enough for a few bags or small suitcases, but not much else.

The new version of the Verso sees the introduction of a different grading structure, with three trim levels on offer: Active, Icon and Excel. All models are well equipped and come with a stereo, air-con, electric front windows, daytime running lights, hill start assist, stability control and auxiliary and USB connections.

Icon specification cars, like  the one we tested, feature more equipment and come with niceties like Bluetooth, a rear-view camera, climate and cruise control, DAB radio and retractable door mirrors.

Overall the Toyota Verso is a tempting proposition for those with families or the necessity for a practical and dependable vehicle.

By no means is it exciting or particularly desirable but it's easy to live with, reliable, inexpensive to run and well built.

The new Toyota Verso is available to order now, with prices starting from £17,495. The seven-seat 2.0-litre diesel Icon version of the Verso, as tested, starts at £21,445.

Also consider:

Volkswagen Touran

The Touran is a well-built and flexible people carrier. It's available with a wide range of economical engines. 

Ford Grand C-Max

Good to drive, versatile and offered with a good variety of engines and options; the Grand C-Max is an engaging, stylish and upmarket choice.

Skoda Yeti

You might find the styling a little quirky, and the Yeti lacks a seven-seat option, but it's spacious, practical and available with 4x4. It makes a great family car.