Toyota’s compact city car gets a (literal) fashion makeover. Neil Davey takes the Aygo X Undercover for a test trip

There is a moment of panic after I accept Toyota’s offer of an Aygo loan. As the regular reader of these eccentric motoring ramblings may recall (and evening, mother), our regular vehicle is an ageing Auris which generally serves our London-and-occasional-trips-outisde-the-M25 needs. On service days, we are occasionally offered a loan vehicle and, one year, this was an Aygo…

And I couldn’t get into it. I’m not a small chap but I’ve driven Smart cars, I’ve driven Fiat 500s, I’ve spent time in Minis and that was back in the days they were actually mini.  And they Aygo… if you’d opened the windows and the sun roof, perhaps I could have worn it like a t shirt but squeeze behind the wheel and go anywhere? Not a chance.

I’d forgotten this until I mentioned to my wife that Toyota would be dropping off the special edition, super-stylish Aygo x Undercover – a collaboration with Japanese fashion designer Jun Takahashi – for a UK trip I was about to undertake. “Isn’t that the one you couldn’t get into?” she asked me. Oh blimey, I realised, yes it is, and spent the next few days seeing out Aygos wherever we were and trying to work out if they’d made them bigger.

Happily, the answer to that is “yes they have” and, instead of sending the delivery driver back from whence he came with his vehicle made for tiny people, I found myself running him to a local Tube station and enjoying myself immensely.

It is, it must be said, a good looking vehicle. Takahashi is, apparently, known for audacious and subversive graphic designs, and the black and metallic grey paint job here is, I’m reliably informed by a Mr G. Oogle, the appropriate “canvas” for signature Takahashi motifs such as the bold “Coral Red” flashes that accentuate the car’s curves and form and details.

The colour scheme extends to the interior as well, with red and black upholstery, with contrasting stitching, and little bits of Coral Red on the dash and air vents. And, while we’re “in” the driver’s seat, let’s talk about that a little. The seats themselves are funky but comfortable and nicely supportive. The display is clear. The reversing camera is efficient.  The connectivity between your phone and the car is the most seamless I’ve ever had, whether via the app or Android Auto. I realise that’s probably industry-wide now but, even since the last couple of Toyotas and Lexus? Lexuses? Lexi? I’ve borrowed for similarly rambling reviews, this was so damn easy, from sat nav to Spotify. The wireless charging pad is also a fine touch and the sound – via a JBL upgrade at £495 – is also impressive.

And so to performance. For the most part, this being a car designed for city driving with a 1.0 litre engine, it’s all utterly fine. It handles well, its compact nature makes it easy to park and negotiate urban streets and, in this sort of setting it’s peppy enough. It does, however, struggle on the long slow inclines and, of course, I’d taken it to a part of the country that’s dotted with long slow inclines. Even playing around with the six-speed gear box didn’t always work and I apologise now to those good people of Shropshire stuck behind me in their mahoosive four-wheel drives. I did wonder if there was a trick to it all, and even spoke to someone at Toyota. “Ah, that’s easy to solve,” they told me. “Don’t drive it on long slow inclines.” Yeah. Cheers, Toyota-person-who-shall-remain-nameless. But, you know, on the flat (and even on most sections of the motorways), it does what it needs to do, and with decent fuel efficiency too – with a mix of town, motorway and blooming slow inclines, by my calculations it delivered a solid 45-50mpg.

All in all though, a fun, stylish, enjoyable drive, particularly if you drive mostly in town.

On-the-road prices are £20,095 for the manual version and £21,195 for the automatic. The JBL premium audio option adds £495 to the price.

Aygo X UNDERCOVER is offered exclusively with a new grey bi-tone metallic paint finish, inspired by urban cityscapes, and new 18-inch gloss black alloy wheels. Red Coral details create an eye-catching contrast, the colour picked out in wheel inserts and decals on the side sills and lower front and rear bumpers. UNDERCOVER’s famous “CHAOS/BALANCE” brand catchwords are spelled out in white roof decals and are featured in the geometric pattern of the carpet mats inside the car.

The Aygo X UNDERCOVER has the highest equipment specification of any model in the current line-up. In addition to the special features detailed above it also comes as standard with heated front seats and with the option of a JBL premium audio system. Elsewhere, it matches the regular Aygo X Exclusive with key items including smart entry and push-button start, wireless smartphone charging tray, Toyota Smart Connect multimedia system with nine-inch display and navigation, air conditioning that can be activated remotely (via the MyT app) to warm or cool the cabin before a journey and easy smartphone integration using Apple CarPlay (wireless connection) or Android Auto (wired connection).