From the outset, David Terai, chief engineer of the latest Aygo, wanted to infuse Toyota’s new A-segment people mover with a sense of pride. Well aware that the segment is generally measured on the virtues of price and practicality, Terai wished to add desirability to that list and remove the word “compromise” from the purchase process.
Labeled with the “J-Playful” design moniker that relates to contemporary Japanese youth culture which favors bold shapes and forms, the Aygo’s design is polarizing, something Terai is well aware of. “It’s a design that forces people to take sides, and in a crowded market place it’s better to have a design that half the people love, rather than one no one objects to.” That’s a bold statement for a bread and butter segment, and one we applaud heartily.
A key element of Aygo’s design is the new frontal “X” graphic. Chief designer Nobuo Nakamura succinctly summarizes the X-design concept as representing “a soft object expanding through a rigid structure.” Thanks to Nakamura for verbalizing the thoughts that have been floating vaguely in our subconscious since we first witnessed Toyota’s X design.
The new Aygo follows the same compact A-segment formula as the previous version, one that Toyota feels is crucial to the its largely urban customer base. Length is increased by just under an inch to a hair over 136 inches overall, and the track was widened by a negligible 0.3 inch front and rear. Wheelbase is unchanged at 92.1 inches. The width of the passenger compartment is up by about 0.35 of an inch, and interior headroom is increased by an equally minuscule 0.28 inch. Overall, the height of the new Aygo dropped by just under 0.2 inch and Toyota says this nets a slight improvement in aerodynamic efficiency (Cd is reduced from 0.30 to 0.29).
Narrow projector-beam headlamps are slits of light forming the upper ends of the Aygo’s face. At the rear, the tailgate and lower bumper form another set of X-shaped lines, mimicking the front.
Arguably the coolest feature of the Aygo is the system of interchangeable parts. The X-shaped grille, rear bumper insert, front fender insert, and aluminum wheels can easily be swapped for different Toyota-supplied pieces in short order. Interior bits such as the instrument panel, center console, air vents, shift knob, and gear lever surround are all capable of the same interchangeability trick.
The Aygo will be available in three grades: Standard, x-play, and x-wave. The standard comes with LED running lights, stability control, hill-start assist, and AM/FM audio with USB and Aux inputs; x-play gets a piano-black x-shaped front grille, 15-inch steel wheels, height-adjustable seat, wheel-mounted audio controls, and a speed limiter; x-wave adds 15-inch silver alloys, a retractable canvas top, partial leather seats and an x-touch multimedia system with touch screen to the list. Special editions include the x-cite (“pop orange” finish, bi-spoke glossy aluminum wheels, and piano-black details), x-clusiv (chrome detailing and midnight black finish), and x-pure (chrome detailing with a cool white finish).
Power comes from Toyota’s 68-hp, 1.0-liter three-cylinder gas engine. All 70 lb-ft. of torque are funneled through either a 5-speed manual or the X-shift automated manual. Toyota says the latter has been greatly improved. Braking is handled by a disc/drum front/rear setup, and Toyota pegs the curb weight for the various versions from 1852 to 2006 lbs.
While Toyota has no immediate plans to ready this 2014 Aygo for entry to the U.S. market, we’re thrilled that they are still dedicating time and resources to the tiny cars that at one time defined the brand.