MPV is well-versed
EVERY now and then, a car pops up that never gets the credit it deserves. Toyota's third generation Verso is a typical case. It's one of the very best small MPVs you can buy, yet all too often it's overlooked as buyers flock to Vauxhall Zafiras, Ford C-MAXs, Renault Scenics and Citroen C4 Picassos. Yet the seven seat Verso offers just as much practicality and a better reliability record — which ought to count for a lot with used car buyers. If you've got this far, you're probably one of the clued-in minority.
What You Get:
This car's styling signature is contained within the novel creases that run along the flanks of its bodywork, from the bottom of the front bumper through the lower parts of the doors and then up towards the rear tailgate is a distinctive swoop. The rear light clusters are particularly attractive, with their circles of LED brake lights with indicators in the centre. Inside, the design team have tried to use the same curvy styling theme, the centre console and the central instrument pod sitting on top of a wavy backdrop.
What's most important however is that this seven-seater Toyota is bigger than its predecessor, though not so large that it can begin to compete with Ford Galaxy or Renault Espace-sized large MPVs from the next class up. Most prospective buyers looking for something nimble enough to twirl around a tight urban environment probably wouldn't want that anyway. Still, the extra 70mm in length and 20mm in width is very welcome, even if it still isn't quite enough for a couple of full-grown adults to be properly comfortable if they're sat in the third row: that requires some legroom compromises from middle-seat occupants.
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Where you do feel the benefit however, is in those times when you need boot space and all three rows of seats are in use. In this configuration, the MK2 Verso offered you a paltry 63-litres of luggage room, a figure upped to a far more usable 155-litres in this MK3 version.
This, along with 1,645-litre total luggage capacity and 1830mm of total load area length with second and third row seats folded flat, does remain less than you'd get from obvious rivals but the space that is on offer is at least very easy to access thanks to the simple and effective Easy Flat-7 seating system.
What You Pay:
Prices kick off at around £8,250 for a 59-plated 1.6-litre petrol TR but you may have to compromise on colour and condition as the petrol cars are that much rarer than the diesel models. The entry level diesels start at around £10,500, which will net you a 2.0-litre D4-D showing around 40,000 miles on an 09 plate. There is still quite a surprising amount of pricing crossover on these 59 plate cars between Mk2 and Mk3 models, so make doubly sure you're going to look at a later car if you're travelling to buy. The gutsy 2.2-litre-litre engine starts at around £12,750.
What to Look For:
The original Corolla Verso developed a cast-iron reputation for reliability, but the Mk2 model slipped off the pace a little bit as new quality procedures at the Turkish factory took a while to become the accepted culture. This third generation car is a lot better and has few generic faults. It scored ninth best in class in a 2010 JD Power customer satisfaction survey which is strangely low for Toyota.
The engines are all very tough and the load area is also hard-earing. Make sure the electronics work as they should and that the satellite navigation system can lock onto a position after a tunnel. Also check that the vehicle has been serviced on the button.
Though it may not still be one of our automatic picks in the compact MPV class, it remains a solid bet for those needing a well thought out car that will be reliable, discreet and practical. It's only if you want sassy design that it may come up a bit short. Still, used prices are distinctly reasonable, so perhaps you could find space for that sporty used roadster to prove that family life hasn't got you reaching for the travel blanket and slippers just yet.