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Toyota Verso S engines, drive and performance

2011 - 2013 (change model)
Performance rating: 2 out of 52.0

Written by Simon McBride Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

There is only one petrol engine available from launch on the Toyota verso S – the 1.33-litre with an output of 98bhp and pulling power of 125Nm. Customers do get a choice of transmissions: a manual six-speed gearbox or a semi-automatic CVT gearbox with paddle shifters. The engine mated to the manual gearbox is the best option for those that enjoy driving and using the car for long journeys.

The CVT gearbox is like marmite – you will either like it or hate it. In automatic mode the CVT screams at motorway speeds like it is being tortured before it changes up into another gear. The best option when on the open road is to flick the shifter into manual mode and use the flappy paddles that are located beneath the steering wheel. Yes the CVT will still scream like it is being flogged but at least you can control the gearbox and plan overtaking manoeuvres when driving in this mode.

The engine feels underpowered regardless of what drivetrain you use and if you add the family and a few bags of luggage the Verso S will struggle on inclines.

The Verso S is actually rather good and if you do decide to have a bit of fun in the corners then you will be pleasantly surprised. Body roll has been kept to a minimum and there is a decent amount of front-end grip. The steering has disappointing levels of feedback which probably doesn’t matter too much because this car will spend the majority of its life in the urban jungle.

When you press the Sport button in auto mode the steering weights up a little but it does makes the engine note louder – not really what you want when you are driving a car with a CVT gearbox.