Toyota will return to the mini-MPV (B-MPV) market in 2011 with the new Verso-S, its first contender in a segment it created itself in 1999 with the launch of Yaris Verso On sale February 2011. Verso-S will compete in part of the European new car market that has almost tripled in size since 2002, thanks to more motorists downsizing and seeking small cars with high levels of interior flexibility.
Inside, the Toyota Verso-S showcases efficient space management. Although it measures less than four metres long - it is the shortest model in the European B-segment - clever packaging delivers remarkable room for both those on board and their luggage.
The exterior styling is characterised by short front and rear overhangs, sweeping coachwork lines and a (optional) large, panoramic sunroof. The cabin design focus is on excellent ergonomics and high levels of perceived quality. Soft touch materials are used on the two-tier dashboard and sculpted door panels. Crisp, brushed metal surrounds for the instrument cluster and centre console add further to the quality perception.
Within the 2,550mm wheelbase space has been maximised with features such as streamlined front seat and door and trim panel design, giving class-leading front passenger headroom, rear seat knee room and loadspace length and volume.
The hip points for front and rear seat occupants have been raised to gain good visibility and to make it easier to get in and out of the car. Driver comfort is increased with seat height adjustment, an arm rest and a gear lever placed close to the three-spoke steering wheel.
The 60:40 split rear seats have a centre arm rest and a one-touch fold-flat mechanism. Unlike any other competitor model in the mini-MPV segment, the seats can also be folded down from the boot, thanks to tilt-down levers provided on the loadspace sidewalls, within easy reach of the rear door.
The top-hinged tailgate is cut into the rear bumper, which means there is lip-free access to the loadspace. The floor incorporates a lightweight deck board which can be set at bumper level to give a flat load floor and 336-litre cargo volume, or can be lowered (a one-handed operation) to increase loadspace depth by 95mm and volume by an extra 57 litres.
The board can be removed altogether, bringing the spare wheel well into play and bringing cargo volume up to 430 litres. Fold the rear seats flat and the maximum available is 1,388 litres.
Elsewhere around the cabin there are bottle and cup holders, generously proportioned front door pockets and a versatile, three-level dashboard storage compartment.
Specs engine, Verso-S is available with the Toyota Optimal Drive 1.33-litre Dual VVT-i petrol engine. Matched to a six-speed manual transmission, it generates a maximum 98bhp at 6,000rpm and peak torque of 126Nm at 4,000rpm. Toyota targets a class-leading combined cycle fuel economy of 51.4mpg, with 127g/km CO2 emissions.
Multidrive S, Toyota's continuously variable transmission is available as an option. It features a manual override seven-speed sequential mode which the driver can operate using paddle shifts mounted on the steering wheel, or the gear lever. In models equipped with this system Toyota targets 54.3mpg combined cycle fuel consumption and 120g/km CO2 emissions.
Toyota marks a first in the mini-MPV segment by equipping Verso-S with a new 6.1-inch, full colour Touch Screen Multimedia Interface. This gives clear and easy access to controls for the radio, CD/MP3 player and Bluetooth. There is also a USB port for connecting portable music players, and the screen can display album cover artwork (with compatible music players) and present the real-time view from a rear parking camera.
At a later date, Toyota will introduce Navi-Box as an option, a booster system that allows pictures to be viewed and music to be sorted from a USB-connected source.
Navi-Box enhances satellite navigation functions, with speed camera warnings and motorway signage, and it gives access to Google-connected services, for example points of interest that can be downloaded from the internet and entered as destinations. Other applications include links to social networking services, fuel prices, news and weather reports.
Equipment grades for the UK market will be announced nearer the launch date. UK and European sales are scheduled to begin in February 2011.
Verso-S is equipped to high standards of active, passive and pedestrian impact safety with all versions equipped with seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag. All seats are fitted with three-point seatbelts with emergency locking retractors; those on the front seats have pretensioners and force limiters.
The active safety systems include ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Traction Control (TRC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC).