Toyota hope to be cruising into the big time with their new urban vehicle. The Urban Cruiser only sold 70 models since a quiet launch mid-year but more effort is to be put into sales for the new year because it has a major rival in the Kia Soul.
The traditional family cars in the C segment now have new challenges. First to arrive was the striking Kia Soul which has something of the wow factor with its sloping roof and high shoulder lines. And now Toyota is hoping for a sales splash with the more compact and refined looking Urban Cruiser. Both Kia and Toyota hope to capture the young vote in the competitive family market and have owners of such high profile models as Ford Focus, VW Golf, Renault Megane and even the Toyota Auris and Kia Cee'd in their line up of models.
The Toyota Urban Cruiser is fashionably high sided and funky looking with a versatile interior. Prices start at €20,560 for the Band-B rated 129 g/km 1.3 litre 100bhp petrol version. The Luna version which gets fog lights, 16" alloys, air conditioning and all electric windows costs €22,900.
The extremely frugal 1.4 D4D diesel 90bhp engine, Band-A rated 118 g/km costs €22,600 for the Terra version rising to €24,880 for the Luna.
All versions have been awarded a 5-star Euro NCAP rating and come with seven airbags for extra safety. But Kia has a price edge. The Soul LX diesel 1.6 litre 110 Bhp models sells at €19,995 and the higher spec EX version costs €21,295.
The Urban Cruiser has the muscular appearance of an all-rounder combined with the urban-friendly dimensions (20mm shorter than a Fiesta) of a versatile five-door hatchback.
It's chunky styling with a low roofline is actually quite distinctive although not to the point of the Soul. It is also smaller than the Nissan Qashqai measuring 3,930 mm long, 1,725mm wide, 1,525mm tall and with a long 2,460mm wheelbase providing more than enough room for four adults and their luggage. Toyota say it will fit five – it will at a push.
The rear seat is tilt and slide – more passenger room or baggage space as required – and load space capacity of 314 litres can be increased to 749 litres with the rear seats folded down. There are two versions of the Cruiser, a 2WD 1.3 litre petrol and the AWD diesel. Both had the 60:40 split rear seats with slide, recline and tilt down functions. There is also a decent supply of storage compartments.
Finish throughout the cabin is good. The dashboard has straightforward controls located within easy reach. A neat touch is a clever dial within a dial speedo/rear-counter arrangement. The driver's seat comes with height adjustment and a steering wheel that adjusts for both height and reach.
The petrol version features "Stop & Start" technology – a system that automatically switches off the engine when the vehicle is stopped and, under urban driving conditions delivers good reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions (up to 4 per cent). The 1.3-litre petrol engine is the same as that used in the facelifted Yaris, on whose platform it is based, and is mated to a standard six-speed manual gearbox.
It is equipped with dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent) and it can return up to 50mpg. Handling is good with a firm suspension and positive steering.
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