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Toyota upgrades versatile Verso


I’M AT a point in my life where I’m seriously considering procreating. Thus far I’ve managed to steer my wife away from cute babies and their disgustingly adorable baby feet, but I can do it no longer. The baby bug has bitten me. I can’t walk past an infant without a feeble attempt at communicating in infant language.

This leaves me with a big problem. If I become a dad, I have to reconsider my perfect two-car garage. It currently features the Toyota 86 and Mini JCW GP, neither of which is suitable for family activities. The time has come to start looking at a mommy wagon.

I promised myself long ago that I’d never consider buying such a thing. You buy these cars for one reason and one reason only - practicality. I love cars way too much for them to be nothing more than a utensil for moving people from one place to the next. The reason for my dislike is as simple as that.

So why do I like the Toyota Verso so much? The younger me would have driven it a few kilometres and declared it as dull as a lecture in chartered accounting, but this time I actually spent a few minutes testing the various practicalities that are supposed to make travelling with kids easier.
The first important factor is the amount of space and the fact that it has seven seats as standard. The Verso has loads of space and you can configure it every which way thanks to Toyota’s Easy Flat-7 seating system with 32 different seating arrangements.

Unlike so many other cars out there, the seats in the Verso really do fold completely flat. With the second and third rows folded down, the Verso’s load space is 1 575mm long and 1 430mm wide. That’s longer than and nearly as wide as the loading box of a Hilux. The luggage volume measures 155 litres, increasing to 440 litres with the third row seats folded flat.

The 2013 Verso is available in the same generous specification levels as its predecessor, but with an increased standard spec for each grade.

The entry-level S grade now includes front foglamps as well as heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors. The SX grade adds a piano black paint finish to the front licence garnish, a height-adjustable front passenger seat, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control and Toyota’s touch-screen display screen with a back monitor camera.

Next up is the TX specification, which adds exterior chrome accents, leather seat bolsters, smart entry with push start, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, auto wipers as well as auto headlamps with dimming function and high-density discharge headlamps.

It’s also nice to see that Toyota hasn’t skimped on the stuff that really matters to anyone who really cares for their family. The new Verso has a comprehensive range of safety features, which has led to it receiving the maximum five stars for safety in the famous Euro NCAP crash test.

Three powertrains are available: two petrol engines (1.6 and 1.8 litres) and one turbo-diesel (2.0-litre D-4D) powerplant. I spent some time behind the wheel of the 1.8-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel and found them both perfectly suited to the relaxed nature of the Verso.

The 1.8-litre petrol delivers 108kW and 180Nm of torque and is available with a choice of six-speed manual or a Multidrive S CVT gearbox. Claimed fuel consumption is rated at 7 litres/100km for the manual and 7.1 litres/100km for the CVT.
The range-topping diesel is the one to go for though. It delivers a 310Nm wallop of torque low down and uses only 5.5 litres of diesel for every 100km travelled.  This powertrain is only available with a six-speed manual shifter.

Overall, the Verso is a pretty special vehicle. It’s a safe and comfortable means of moving a large family. Thanks to a substantial exterior facelift, it even looks good.

That just leaves us with one question: is it cool enough to warm me (and every other petrolhead out there) to the idea of owning an MPV? Tough call, but I think it pulls it off for one very good reason.

The Verso is the first car that has charmed me with its practicality. I used to love a car because of its good looks, powerful engine or luxurious interior, but - for the first time - I find myself drawn to a vehicle because it has 32 different seating arrangements. I can’t help but fantasise about all the stuff I can load back there.

The new Verso benefits from a 3-year/100 000km warranty and comes with a standard 5-year/90 000 km service plan.

Verso 1.6 S 6-spd manual  R261 900 (incl. VAT)
Verso 1.6 SX 6-spd manual  R284 300 (incl. VAT)
Verso 1.8 TX 6-spd manual  R314 200 (incl. VAT)
Verso 1.8 TX CVT R326 100 (incl. VAT)




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