Sam Philip03 March 2014

It’s the new Toyota Aygo. No, really

Citroen C1/Peugeot 108 triplet breaks cover. Looks ace, is inspired by a Japanese manga robot

Now you weren't expecting that, were you? This is the all-new Toyota Aygo - sister car to the new Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 - and it looks... well, as budget city-things go, it looks a bit amazing.

Toyota told us last week to ‘expect more surprises'. No kidding. Nobuo Nakamura, the car's designer, tells us the Aygo's styling was inspired by (a) Japanese manga-robot AstroBoy, and (b) an egg in a box. Whatever the inspiration, it works.

The new Aygo looks far squatter than its predecessor, but is a mere inch longer and almost exactly the same height. It shares its bone structure and oily bits with the just-announced C1 and 108 but, unlike the previous generation of rebadged triplets, is visually quite distinct from the little Frenchies.

On the outside, only the door panels are common between the Aygo and its Gallic siblings. There's even a subtle ‘double-bubble' roof, which makes Top Gear very happy and may cause mild cardiac trauma among some of the Aygo's traditionally octogenarian demographic.

"In a crowded marketplace, it's better to have a design that half the people absolutely love, rather than one that nobody objects to," says Nakamura-san. Represents rather a shift in philosophy for a company that seems to have been trading on an ‘insult no one, excite no one' philosophy for the last decade or so, doesn't it?

Toyota has gone big on personalisation here: some 10 elements of the Aygo, including its grille, bumper inserts and dash panels, can be easily replaced in different colours, thus providing customers with the freedom to make their handsome little city car entirely offensive.

There's a seven-inch touchscreen as standard, hooked up to Toyota's ‘x-touch' multimedia system which ports your smartphone.

Just one engine will be available at launch, a 1.0-litre four-cylinder making 68bhp and 70lb ft of torque. Officially the Aygo will manage around 70mpg, and emit under 100g/km of CO2. Such parsimony is thanks, at least in part, to a sub-900kg kerbweight.

Not that it's quick, mind. With the standard five-speed manual ‘box (there's a ‘vastly improved' robotised manual available too, but we're pretty sure you still won't want it), it'll get from 0-62mph in a searing 14.2 seconds, with a 99mph top speed.

Sensible indeed, but isn't such a smart-looking little car crying out for a hot version? Possibly a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive hot version?

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