Toyota Verso-S T-Spirit VVT-i CVT
The Verso-S is designed to fill a void left by the Yaris Verso which was discontinued in the late nineties. Designed to be compact on the outside but big on the inside, so what's new and sets this Toyota apart from established rivals such as the Citroen C3 Picasso and Vauxhall Meriva?

I spent a week with the £18,015, 1.33 VVT-i T-Spirit to find out.

The Verso-S's overall shape is tall and narrow, much like any other mini-MPV on sale. Where the styling gets really interesting is the short front and rear overhangs, which give the Toyota a modern look which is almost sawn-off at the rear.

Other modern touches to the styling include the sculpting to the sides of the car, with a cut-out at the bottom and of course tight shutlines.

Toyota Verso-S T-Spirit VVT-i CVT
Overall, I think the Verso-S's styling almost looks like a scaled down version of its bigger brother, the Verso.

On the flip side, perhaps it's just me but I'm sure there's some Honda Jazz influence in there too? My favourite part of the design has to be the way that the A-pillars flow seamlessly into the long roofline.

Our test car was fitted with the only engine available for the Verso-S, the 98bhp 1.33-litre VVT-i petrol. Even when mated with the CVT transmission (like the test car), the baby Toyota MPV can achieve 54.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 120g/km, so this Toyota should prove cheap to run.

This is a small car and despite the tall body is easy to park, but I found the rear camera that's fitted as part of the Touch system very useful for tight spaces. I do wonder if parking sensors would have done as good a job? The Toyota's light electric power assisted steering is fine in town, but feels vague and doesn't encourage hard driving on the open road.

There's no pleasure to be found in attacking twisty corners in the Verso-S either, as there's too much body roll, the CVT transmission of the test car lacks involvement and the steering is imprecise. The Meriva is more fun to drive.

Toyota Verso-S T-Spirit VVT-i CVT
The ride is generally good, but deep road scars will unsettle it.

Inside, the Verso-S feels robust rather than well-made. Toyota has a reputation for quality and reliability, but there are some dodgy, scratchy plastics and the passenger side electric window failed during the week of our test. Thankfully, all the switchgear feels sturdy and is logically placed.

Despite the 1.33-litre engine being capable considering its size, it turns thrashy when worked. However, it's particularly bad with the smooth CVT transmission, where motorway driving and overtaking become a noisy, thrashy experience.

The CVT transmission gives relaxed acceleration. With 60mph coming up in 13.7 seconds and a top speed of 103mph means the Verso-S isn't going to win any performance awards either. A five-speed manual version is also available and would be our choice.

Toyota Verso-S T-Spirit VVT-i CVT
The Verso-S's doors open wide and the driving position is comfortable but it's a shame the seats aren't more supportive. This Toyota has exceptional interior space and flexibility, especially in the back. There's also a useful 365 litres of luggage space in the boot, which can be extended to 393 litres via the clever sliding, fold flat rear seats.

In range-topping T-Spirit trim, the Verso-S is well-equipped with electrically adjustable door mirrors, electric front windows, a touch-screen display with reversing camera, air-conditioning, Bluetooth, a multi-function steering wheel, panoramic glass roof, alloy wheels rear electric windows and privacy glass for the rear side windows.

Our test car was fitted with the optional £500 Touch & Go touchscreen navigation system, that includes Bluetooth and USB connectivity for iPods. Sadly, the maps are not very detailed, but I was impressed at how easily I could pair my phone with the Bluetooth system.

So would I recommend the Verso-S against established rivals? Well, it's bound to be cheap to run and there's no doubt that the interior is spacious and well-equipped. The biggest problem is that there are many rivals that do the same or more and would be more exciting to own.