Volkswagen's up! and the new Toyota Aygo both target the youthful budget car buyer, but go about their business in very different ways. Which is the best buy?
If you’re looking to spend less than R150 000 on a new car, then the Volkswagen up! and Toyota Aygo will invariably cross your path as you tussle to part with your hard-earned dosh. If you’re scratching your head to figure out which of these cars is the better buy, don’t despair because we have done much of the leg work for you to make your decision process a bit easier.
The Volkswagen up! and Toyota Aygo are similar in many ways, but they differ greatly too. Ultimately, the value you place on the differences will determine where your allegiance lies. Overall, and despite the differences, these two boutique city cars are so evenly matched that whatever choice you make will certainly be a solid one.
What are we comparing?
The Volkswagen up! was introduced in South Africa earlier in 2015 as the brand's new entry-level offering, sitting below the Polo Vivo which served this purpose for several years. Note, however, that the up! has been on offer in Europe for around four years. Two derivatives were initially offered locally at launch, the base Take up! and the higher spec Move up! Later in the year, Volkswagen welcomed a third high-spec model to the range called the Club up!
The new Toyota Aygo came to market a bit later in October 2015 with two options available to buyers: the base monotone Aygo and the two-tone Aygo X-Play derivative.
For the purpose of this comparison, we are matching the higher specification Volkswagen Move up! (R147 100) with the flagship Toyota Aygo X-Play (R139 900). Yes, that’s a R7 200 difference, but upon closer inspection, things get tight…
You will know which of these cars appeal more to you at first glance but it’s important to know that the up! is currently only available as a three-door with a five-door version expected in 2016. The Aygo is offered solely as a 5-door model. Both cars ride on 14-inch steel wheels with plastic wheel covers as standard. 15-inch alloy wheels are however offered as an option for the Move up!
The Aygo X-Play offers different roof and body colour pairings to give the car two-tone flair and although both offerings are quirky and fun in design, the Aygo’s styling is more extroverted with the bold X motif up front while the up! takes a more subtle, typically Volkswagen design approach.
Summary: Our test team was evenly split in terms of preferences of exterior styling, but the Aygo nudged into the lead with a draw vote.
Interior Design & Finish
The Volkswagen up! features clean and neat styling throughout its cabin. Although minimalistic in form, the central CD/radio and air conditioning controls are grouped together, opening up the lower dashboard to cater for storage, which is ample. The instrument cluster is dominated by a central speedometer and is simple, but sleek in design, complementing the overall look and feel. A trip computer is fitted as standard, the steering wheel in the up! is adjustable for rake and the driver's seat is manually height adjustable. The longer doors also create a sense of space for front passengers. Overall fit and finish is good throughout the cabin.
The Toyota Aygo X-Play, as with its exterior styling, adopts a more overtly expressive approach in its interior design. The Aygo gains a touch-screen info-tainment system with the air conditioning controls placed beneath the system and the dashboard as a whole is more contoured. The instrument cluster is closely positioned behind the steering, perhaps too close, and is dominated by a large central speedometer with a multi-information display included as standard. The fun is further emphasised with a bar tachometer to the side of the instrument cluster. Like the up!, the leather-wrapped steering wheel is adjustable for rake and the driver's seat is manually height adjustable. Fit and finish is not up to the high benchmark established by the up!.
Summary: The test team came to the unanimous conclusion that the Volkswagen up! claims a victory over the Aygo in the interior design department. Although the Aygo interior is possibly more vibrant, the perceived quality of the materials used can’t match the way in which the up! exudes an air of sophistication and style in its simplicity.
Specification is where the Toyota Aygo brings its fight, and when the chips are on the table, extra goodies count for a lot. The Move up! includes one front cup holder, one rear cup holder, air conditioning, CD/radio player, electric windows/mirrors, remote central locking and rear ISOFIX mounts. Note that no USB or Aux ports are included in the Move up! and an aftermarket Bluetooth device is required for syncing devices.
The Aygo however offers a touchscreen infotainment system which is easy to use and Bluetooth is standard while USB and Aux ports are also included. Other features for the Aygo include two front cup holders, air conditioning, electric windows/mirrors, 12V socket, remote central locking and rear ISOFIX mounts.
Summary: The Toyota Aygo scoops the win in terms of features with generous specification representing better value for money. The addition of a touchscreen infotainment system is likely to resonate well with the intended target market too. As for the Volkswagen up!, it’s time to "up" your game.
Despite the fact that the up! has two doors less than the Aygo, it is cleverly packaged to offer a surprising amount of space. Once seated, rear passengers have sufficient leg, head and shoulder room and if more leg room is required, it can easily be stolen from the driver or front passenger who are more than well catered for in front. The rear bench in this Move up! is split 60:40 for added convenience and it has the bigger boot that offers a decent 251L of space which expands to 951L with the seats folded flat. The levelled boot floor also makes it easy to store items out of sight.
With two extra doors, the Aygo performs somewhat poorly in terms of space. Adults will have to call shotgun for the front seats as rear passenger space is compromised on all fronts and taller passengers will struggle to find comfort in the back. The kiddies will be smiling though. The boot of this Aygo is rather small too at 168L, so remember to pack lightly for those out-of-town excursions. It was also noted that the 50:50 split rear seat doesn’t fold completely flat, either.
Summary: The up!, with its clever use of space, is more practical than the Aygo and is better endowed to carry items and passengers. The up! is therefore the clear, if somewhat surprising, practicality winner!
Drivetrain & Refinement
Both the Volkswagen Move up! and Toyota Aygo X-Play are powered by 3-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol engines and both feature a 5-speed manual transmission. The Move up! offers 55 kW and 95 Nm of torque while Aygo X-Play offers 51 kW and 95 Nm of torque. Cars don’t drive on paper and here there’s not much separating these competitors, but the difference lies in how they perform out on the road. Both engines do a good job of scooting around town and although the figures seem small, for cars this size, it’s more than enough to get a move on in the city with very little hassle.
Pulling off in the Aygo takes some practice to perfect as the clutch setup is a bit hit or miss, but thankfully the transmission is smooth and effortless in changing gears. Matching the Aygo’s extrovert personality is an engine that likes to talk back. Under harder acceleration, the engine gets quite vocal and if you prefer a quieter drive then the Aygo will likely become cumbersome on your daily commute. In comparison, the up! is far more composed in its ways and manages to deliver a quieter, more refined drive and the transmission is silky smooth too.
Summary:Our test team agrees that the Volkswagen Move up! takes the win from the Toyota Aygo X-Play in the refinement stakes.
Ride and Handling
Both the Aygo and up! will surprise you out on the road. These cars are built to navigate city streets and they do it so well. The Aygo is perkier from robot to robot and accelerates well off the line as the little engine comes to life. The steering feel is solid and direct in the Aygo and gives the driver a sense of control, even when cornering at speed. Out on the highway, the Aygo holds its own and copes well with highway driving but you get the sense that the car would prefer to be ducking and diving in the back streets.
The up! on the other hand feels more confident and composed in highway driving situations. Although the up! isn’t as eager as the Aygo to sprint away from the robot, the overall ride feels better, more natural. Like the Aygo, steering in the up! offers good feedback and the ride never feels crashy over bumps.
Summary: The up! and Aygo offer excellent handling, but our test team gave the up! the win over the Aygo, thanks to its superior ride quality in both city and highway situations.
The Toyota Aygo offers comprehensive safety features which include 4 airbags, ABS with Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist. ISOFIX child seat mounts are also included.
By comparison, the Volkswagen up! is also fitted with 4 airbags and ABS is included. EBD and Brake Assist are not included. ISOFIX mounts are included and rear park distance control is available as an option.
Excellent fuel consumption is a major draw card when considering the up! or Aygo and both are good at returning decent consumption figures. The up! comes with a claimed fuel consumption figure of 4.6L/100km while Toyota claims 4.4L/100km for the Aygo.
During our test period, the up! easily achieved 6.2L/100km while the Aygo was hovering around 6.8L/100km.
Pricing and After Sales
The Toyota Aygo X-Play is currently priced at R139 900 and is sold with a 3-year/100 000km warranty. A service plan is sold as an option.
The Volkswagen Move up! is priced at R147 100 and is sold with a 3-year/120 000km warranty while a service plan is sold an option.
The Toyota Aygo has a lot going for it with its fresh and hip styling that begs to be considered. It’s well priced, well specced and offers decent performance and economy from its engine. Better still, the inclusion of a touchscreen and Bluetooth/USB connectivity will tug at the heart strings of younger buyers who place value on connectivity and entertainment.
Even so, the Aygo has flaws that can’t be overlooked when standing next to the Volkswagen up! Material quality in the Aygo could be better and its space woes may be problematic for some. Although it drives well, refinement can’t match that of the up! Yes, the up! offers less in way of features, but it makes up for the deficit by offering a product that just looks and feels more accomplished than the Aygo. Is the Move up! worth its R7 200 over the Aygo? If perceived quality, refinement and space means anything to you, then yes, the up! wins, but only by a hair.