As DaimlerChrysler proved with the Smart, to design and build a small car profitably, conventional engineering is the only viable option. There is nothing in the Toyota Aygo’s specification that will excite or titillate: it uses a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine bolted into a two-box monocoque.
The gearbox is a conventional five-speed manual and, despite offering a claimed 65.7mpg on the combined cycle, the car does so through low mass and keen aerodynamics rather than any kind of revolution in the engine bay, although Toyota has claimed that this is the lightest internal combustion engine on sale, at just 67kg. From 998cc it produces 67bhp at 6000rpm and a numerical nick more torque, 69lb ft, at a usefully relaxed 3600rpm. These figures would appear fatal for any type of enjoyment were the Aygo not a genuine featherweight, amassing just 790kg at the kerb.
Engines containing cylinders in multiples of three are among the best sounding, most enjoyable type around. Why this is the case is mainly a matter of harmonic sweet-spots, but it’s the unavoidable conclusion you arrive at the first time you prod the Aygo’s throttle and feel it shimmy. However, character counts for nothing if push-bikes pose a straight-line threat, and thankfully there’s enough performance for the car not to feel ponderous on the road. From rest it fidgets to 62mph in a 14.7sec and in fourth gear our test car just missed out on a 100mph mean maximum on the high-speed bowl, reaching 98mph. In fifth that number dropped to 95mph.