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Toyota Verso 180 SX

Broadcast dates : 13th June 2004/17th June 2004

Although Toyota's new Verso is badged as a Corolla, its body platform in fact is based on a larger vehicle in the Toyota range, known as the Avensis.

The Verso was designed unashamedly to make major inroads into the European MPV market and South Africa is the only country outside of Europe where the Verso is available.

Interestingly there is just one engine choice in the Verso range, the 1,8-litre four cylinder unit with so-called intelligent, variable valve timing. developing 95 kilowatts and one hundred and seventy Newton metres of torque.

This is a willing and reliable unit, but in the Verso installation it is a little intrusive at times, as it has to work quite hard for its money.

With the Verso Toyota has gone for a very rigid bodyshell with safety foremost in the designers' list of priorities.

This may account for the Verso being a little short on window area compared to other MPVs in the market. But in its recent European N-Cap, or New Car Assessment Programme crash test, the Verso scored the highest number of points of any MPV to date.

The Verso comes in three basic forms, the 180 entry-level model, the SX which we tested, and the TX.

On the SX model the semi-automatic Manual Mode Transmission, similar to the Alfa Selespeed and BMW SMG systems is offered as an option.

Like most of these transmissions, they are a bit of an acquired taste, with gearshifts quite slow. To get a smooth shift in the MMT version you also need to lift the accelerator when changing, something you don't have to do with a conventional automatic transmission.

The Verso SX comes with a full range of nine airbags for its seven passengers, including a knee airbag for the driver.

Other luxury items standard on the SX are brake assist, 16-inch alloy wheels with two-oh-five-fifty five tyres, automatic rain-sensing wipers, vehicle stability and traction control and an RDS radio with a dashboard-mounted six-CD shuttle.

Price-wise the Verso, like the newly-announced Volkswagen Tauran, will be up against stiff opposition from the Renault Scenic.

Prices on the Verso start from two hundred and nine thousand for the basic model to two hundred and forty nine thousand for the 180 TX.

The Scenic sells for significantly less than both these models and is arguably better equipped. But it does lack the extra two seats that the Scenic and the Tauran offer.

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