Here’s some potentially exciting news – Toyota has teamed up with BMW and bought some engines off the Germans. Imagine that: a GT86 with a straight- six... Japanese lightweight coupe meets German engine excellence. Except it’s not quite turned out like that, because this one-off (for the time being) partnership involves the Toyota Verso, and BMW’s 1.6-litre diesel from the 316d. Oh, the glamour.
Still, the Verso is a perfectly acceptable way of transporting the family, and BMW’s 1.6 diesels have, in BMWs at least, always been excellent engines. The theory makes sense, and the business reasons stack up too: Toyota couldn’t make an economic case for developing a brand-new small-capacity diesel all on its own, but BMW had one that could be crammed in and, crucially, was willing to sell it to Toyota. Hence the deal.
A bit of ECU fettling later, and the 1.6 D-4D Verso was born. It’s got 108bhp and 199lb ft, with usefully economical fuel consumption of 62.8mpg and 119g/km CO2. So far, then, a very understandable tie-up.
But then you drive the Verso, and everything falls apart. Toyota claims it did a lot of NVH work to make the engine fit with the Verso’s ethos, in which case, we can only assume the Verso’s ethos is “noisy”. The road and engine grumble were so bad that we thought we’d left a window open.
It’s made worse by the fact that you’ve got to work the diesel quite hard. Zero to 62mph takes 12.7 seconds, and sixth gear is so leggy that you need to change down to fifth on uphill stretches. Admittedly, there is a sweet spot in the rev range from 2,000rpm to 3,000rpm, but that’s a narrow band, so you’re changing gear a lot. It’s all very odd, given how much of a peach the engine is in a BMW.
Toyota has also updated the interior trim and fitted the Touch 2 satnav system, supposedly with a higher-res, brighter screen. It’s sometimes clear and easy to view, but only if the sun isn’t shining on it. Otherwise, it’s just a very expensive sun-reflection screen.
This is a pity, because with the new style introduced back in 2013, the Verso was looking like a decent family car. Not exciting, but a capable way of hauling the kids around. In this format, though, you’ll be better off elsewhere.
1598cc, 4cyl, FWD, 108bhp, 199lb ft 62.8mpg, 119g/km CO2, 0–62mph in 12.7secs, 115mph 1520kg £23,995