Despite its expansive claims, five full-sized adults might find the Yaris Verso a bit of a squash, given that the centre rear seat (which only has a lap belt) is actually half the normal width. Better to fold it into an armrest or a picnic tray and travel comfortably four-up. Alternatively, you can take the thing out completely (it weighs just six kilos) and clip it neatly away on the side of the boot. That enables passengers to enter the car from the rear side-hinged door as well as from the sides. They can also let themselves out thanks to an inside handle.
But it's when you don't need so much passenger space that this Toyota's Verso-tility really comes into its own. The two main rear seats fold individually forward under the floor - though in a special right-to-left order which means that only the right seat can be used on its own. Once everything's tucked away, a massive 2160 litres of space is available - more than most family estate cars. Certainly it's enough for two tea chests side by side - and you could fit a couple more in behind were it not for the protruding wheelarches.
There's plenty of oddments space too, with a twin-lidded glovebox in front of the front passenger and aircraft-style overhead luggage bins built into the roof above the sunvisors. A couple of cupholding slots sit in front of the gearstick and there are more built into the removable centre seat at the back.
The two main versions you'll find on forecourts will increasingly be the GS and GLS and both come well equipped with electric front windows and mirrors, twin airbags, central locking, ABS and power steering. The plusher GLS includes air conditioning, front foglamps and alloy wheels. A four-speed automatic and satellite navigation are amongst the options, though sadly, UK buyers can't specify the twin sunroofs offered to continental customers.
The Verso is too new for any significant faults to emerge, and being a Toyota, it's likely to remain a long time until they do. Insist on a fully stamped up service record and look for damage caused by children - the usual rips, stains and snapped off fittings.
(approx based on a 2000 Yaris Verso VVT-i) No hideous shocks in store for the Yaris owner here. Toyotas are so reliable that it's hard to see how the dealers make a profit on spares that include a clutch assembly at £150, starter motors from £100, headlamps from £60 and brake pads at £21 a set. A new radiator for the Verso will be around £200, whilst an exhaust system is in the region of £250. It's a long time since received wisdom held that Toyota spares were some of the costliest around.
Unlike the standard supermini, Yaris Verso buyers get only one engine option - the 85bhp 1.3-litre VVT-i unit which makes sixty in 12.5s on the way to 102mph. Still, it's just as frugal as the ordinary Yaris' 1.0-litre unit - expect to average nearly 45mpg on a regular basis. You won't be expecting driving excitement from a car like this - nor does the little Toyota deliver it - but as long as you don't throw it around too much, the Verso can be punted along at a surprisingly respectable speed.
If you do start to sling the car about, its high centre of gravity becomes apparent and you quickly back off - a lot earlier than you would do in an ordinary Yaris, despite the provision of a thicker anti-roll bar. Surprisingly, given its extra space, you should find this version of the Yaris to be quieter than the standard version. This is courtesy of a lot of extra effort on Toyota's part: extra soundproofing and a new silencer to almost eradicate exhaust noise.
As you'd expect from a glassy body that makes air conditioning more than preferable, all-round visibility is good. This, along with the rather light power steering, makes the car an agreeable urban companion. The ride helps here too, smooth and pliable on all but the worst surfaces.
The Yaris Verso is the original and best supermini-based MPV. Given the paucity of the competition that's not saying a great deal and your money can get you more metal if you're prepared to compromise on age. Nevertheless if you are set on a supermini-MPV and can live with the looks, the Verso is as good as it gets.