In Europe, Toyotaâ€™s Aygo sits fairly low down the table for city cars, not even making the top five. In the UK, it currently tops the segment for sales, giving some idea of how important the model is for the brand in this country.
Itâ€™s a key component in the manufacturer’s ambition to win over more young buyers, offering a fun, funky counterpoint to the staid, sensible and (whisper it) middle-aged image that comes with consistently topping reliability charts.
Toyota Aygo x-clusiv
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, petrol
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Top speed: 99mph
0-62mph: 13.8 seconds
In fact appearances are so important to young buyers that Toyota reckons that the number one reason buyers go for the Aygo is its design, so although itâ€™s been refreshed the car is still instantly recognisable. The X-shaped nose has been tweaked to make it more prominent and the LED running lights front and rear shaped to emphasise the carâ€™s width. It makes for a more individual and eye-catching design than the Aygoâ€™s largely squared-off rivals – vital in a segment where appearances mean a lot.
After refreshing the design, Toyotaâ€™s main aim with this mid-life refresh was to improve the way the Aygo drives.
For starters the steering has been retuned to offer more feel. Iâ€™m not convinced about how much feel has been added but the Aygoâ€™s steering has more weight than most of its rivals. Thatâ€™s not to say that itâ€™s heavy. Itâ€™s still easy enough to twirl around in the tight confines of a city but out on bigger, faster roads it feels like it has more substance and the carâ€™s less likely to wander under your grip.
The suspension has also been upgraded and refined. It makes for a car with an absorbent ride around town but that doesnâ€™t feel loose at higher speeds. Over well-maintained Danish road surfaces the Aygo felt settled and smooth but itâ€™ll take a proper test on Britainâ€™s shocking surfaces to get the full measure of the Aygoâ€™s comfort.
The Aygoâ€™s single engine is carried over from the previous model but with some significant modifications to make it quieter, more efficient and more responsive at low revs. The three-cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol now produces 71bhp, up from 68bhp, and torque at low revs has improved while official economy figures have risen to 68.9mpg.
For power and performance itâ€™s on par with the average for the segment while its economy is marginally ahead of the game. A 0-62mph time of 13.8 seconds isnâ€™t much to shout about but itâ€™s largely irrelevant for a car thatâ€™ll spend its days in an urban setting. The improved low-down torque is more important for dashing into gaps, although it still needs a decent prod to make progress.
Most buyers will inevitably opt for the five-speed manual transmission although there is a x-shift automated manual for those who â€œdonâ€™t doâ€ clutches.
Despite efforts to make it quieter, the three-pot isnâ€™t close to the most refined in the segment. Thereâ€™s distinctly more thrum than the VW Group 1.0 in the Up etc, especially at lower speeds and Kiaâ€™s 1.25 four-cylinder in the Picanto has it beaten for volume and smoothness. Once youâ€™re cruising at higher speeds it does settle down and the improved cabin sound insulation means itâ€™s up to handling longer motorway trips.
While itâ€™s well insulated, the cabin is less successful when it comes to presentation. The big circular speedo binnacle atop the steering column is neat, flanked by a linear rev counter and key warning lights. The body-coloured surrounds for air vents and door panels work well too but the central console looks and feels terribly old-fashioned. The plastic is flat and grey and the weirdly shaped air con controls fall well wide of the quirky mark they were aiming for. And while itâ€™s comfortable for those in the front the rear space is more limited than some rivals, especially as the sloping roof eats into headroom.
The Aygo comes in six trims and the list of x-based puns is enough to make you go cross-eyed but essentially runs from the base x up to the most luxurious x-clusiv. At the core of the range sits the x-play which features air-conditioning, steering wheel-mounted stereo controls, a height adjustable driverâ€™s seat, speed limiter and the x-touch multimedia system.
All but base spec cars get the x-touch, which also adds a reversing camera. The seven-inch display is nicer to look at and use than other Toyota systems and the smartphone integration featured in higher grade models adds Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and voice control.
X-clusiv features luxuries such as auto air con, part leather upholstery, keyless entry and start and the Toyota Safety Sense pack with autonomous emergency braking and lane departure alert.
Between x-play and x-clusiv the x-plore and x-cite offer more tech or design-led approaches.The x-cite, in particular stands out thanks to its opinion-splitting (bogging) Magenta Fizz two-tone paint and interior highlights, while the x-plore is available with a sliding fabric â€œfunroofâ€ like the Fiat 500.
Itâ€™s a comprehensive, if slightly confusing range that starts at Â£9,695 and works its way up to Â£14,595, putting it more or less on a par with the Kia Picanto and Renault Twingo but stretching its top price beyond the VW/Skoda/Seat trio of Up, Citigo, Mii.
The Kia Picanto has long been our favourite city car and hangs onto its crown in the face of Toyotaâ€™s offering thanks to wider engine choices and generous equipment levels but the Aygo isnâ€™t too far behind. Itâ€™s light, nippy and agile around town but is up to the task of longer, faster journeys. Thereâ€™s plenty of high-tech kit and customisation options for the savvy young buyer and its only real weaknesses are its restricted rear space, that outdated looking dashboard and a price above some rivals.