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Toyota Urban Cruiser 1.4 D-4D road test report

1.4 D-4D

Manufacturers are inventing new niches of vehicles that are increasingly hard to pigeonhole. But although Toyota’s Urban Cruiser literature avoids use of the term ‘crossover’, like Nissan’s Qashqai, that’s what this all-new model is – a crossover between a compact off-road 4x4 and an on-road family 5-door estate. But will you want one?

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Toyota Urban Cruiser

Image number 2 of the Toyota Urban CruiserImage number 3 of the Toyota Urban CruiserImage number 4 of the Toyota Urban Cruiser

Performance Performance - 4 stars

When it goes on sale in May ’09, the Urban Cruiser will come with either a 100bhp 1.3-litre petrol engine with fuel-saving Stop & Start technology and front-wheel drive, or an 89bhp 1.4 D-4D with Active Torque Control all-wheel drive. Although the diesel’s 151lb/ft of torque beats the petrol’s 97lb/ft, both models share exactly the same performance figs: 0-62mph in 12.5secs and a max of 109mph. Due to getting hopelessly lost and behind time on the overseas press launch I unfortunately missed my chance to drive the 1.3 version, but I can confirm that the 1.4 will top an indicated 120mph, downhill!

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 4 stars

Due in part to getting behind time (see just above), the poor car was driven much harder than it deserved so both body and tyre roll became more than apparent. When the grip finally did run out the traction and stability control systems were quick to react by cutting power and rapidly putting everything back into shape. Not what an expert rally driver would want, but this isn’t a rally car and so think of it as potentially reassuring should you mistakenly slightly overdo it a corner with the family aboard… Driven at more sensible speeds the Urban Cruiser steers predictably, rides comfortably and generally behaves benignly.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 5 stars

A notice on the sun visors in the press launch cars clearly stated they were pre-production vehicles. I quote, ‘…while it gives a general idea of how the final product will be, it should not be regarded as representative of the production model since some details as well as fit, finish and assembly quality are not up to production standards’. This is the industry’s standard get-out clause when journos drive pre-production cars, just in case something should rattle, squeak, or drop off. But guess what. Nothing did. Moreover, the fit and finish etc. all seemed commensurate with Toyota’s industry-leading standards.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 4 stars

It’s unlikely that this niche model will be subjected to the rigours of Euro NCAP testing, but that isn’t to say that Toyota has skimped in this area. With a rigid yet impact-absorbing bodyshell, doors and bonnet, the Urban Cruiser is fitted with seven airbags including a driver’s knee airbag and full-length curtain airbags. All seats have emergency locking retractor seatbelts with pre-tensioners and force limiter functions. Active front headrests reduce whiplash injury while hidden elsewhere is ABS, EBD, BA and the aforementioned TRC and VSC systems. Security is handled by remote central locking with a transponder engine immobiliser and a steering lock.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 4 stars

Toyota refers to the Urban Cruiser as a B-segment model (industry speak for Corsa, Clio, Fiesta, and Polo-sized cars), but looking at it in the metal it appears more C-segment sized (Astra, Megane, Focus, Golf etc). This is reflected on the inside where there’s adequate comfort and, despite a relatively high window waistline, there’s a good feeling of spaciousness. The 314-litre loadspace can be increased to 749-litres (1.3) or 673-litres (1.4). The 1.3 has a 60:40 split rear bench with slide, recline and fold-down functions, while the 1.4 has the same but with double-folding rear seats.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

Unusually, the Urban Cruiser is offered in just one spec level with prices of £14,500 for the 1.3 with Stop & Start and £16,400 for the 1.4 with AWD (thus falling neatly between B-segment Fiestas and the C-segment Focus). Insurance groups are currently undecided, but the initial VED band will be C (both models) with CO2 emissions at 129g/km (1.3) and 130g/km (1.4). The benefits of the 1.3’s Stop & Start system aren’t apparent in the official mpg figures. Although 42.8mpg on the urban cycle and 51.4mpg (combined) aren’t shabby, the 1.4 D-4D beats it with 48.7mpg (urban) and 57.6mpg (combined). Those are the facts, but I found myself charmed by this attractive little car. I’d recommend the 1.3 for urban mums on the school/supermarket run, and the 1.4 for rural, higher-mileage drivers.

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