Toyota Aqua Hybrid X-Urban Review

Oneshift Editorial Team
2 Oct 2015

Introduction and Exterior
Known as the Prius c elsewhere, the Aqua was introduced in late 2011 as a little brother of the Prius hatchback. The Aqua competes in the small hatchback segment along with the likes of Suzuki Swift and Nissan March, albeit with the advantage of having a lean and green hybrid drivetrain.

New for the 2015 model year, the Aqua has been given a facelift, sporting revised bumpers, lights and a fiercer fascia: the Aqua appears to be more aggressive than before. The front lights are now LED projector beams, while the rear lights are kitted with LED too.

The car tested is the X-Urban model, which features additional bodykit painted in a contrasting colour depending on choice of body colour. On cars with lighter colours, the front and rear apron, side skirt attachments, and grille are finished in dark grey. On darker body colours such as on our test car, the kit is finished in an eye-catching orange and looks the part.

On all X-Urban models, the snazzy looking rims are finished in a combination of brushed and grey-painted surfaces. Similar to Toyota hybrid models, the front and rear Toyota emblems are finished in blue to remind other drivers that you’re driving a car that’s pretty much unlike others.

The Aqua sure does look more interesting in this trim than its predecessor, while the contrasting bodykit adds some visual fun to an otherwise conservative but pleasing styling.

Step inside and the car’s chic exterior gives way to a clean, straightforward interior. The dashboard is simple and features an automatic climate control, the hollow for the yet-to-be installed entertainment unit, digital dash intstruments, and an array of cubbyholes of all sizes.

The digital dash adds a hint of pizzazz to the otherwise rather standard interior, and the gauge that tells the driver the actions of the hybrid system is a good source of entertainment to the driver. However, the digital dash instruments are too small to read and comprehend while on the move, and its central position takes getting used to.

The seats are finished in a combination of faux-leather and fabric, stitched together with contrasting thread. Based on your choice of exterior colour, the colour of the contrast stitching varies. The stitching in our black test car was white, whereas in a white Aqua at the dealership’s lot featured orange stitching, lifting the interior better than the white.

Accommodation is fairly comfortable in the front, but rear seat passengers will feel a tad snug. That said, the commodious boot is capable of swallowing up to 485 litres, and more with the rear seats folded.

The interior is a fine place to be in, while it doesn’t wow its occupants, it is functional and reasonably practical just as one would expect a small family hatchback to be.

The Drive
The Aqua is powered by a 1.5-litre assisted by an electric motor fuelled by a nickel-metal hydride battery pack, a watered down version of the unit found in the Prius. Together, they’re good for 99bhp and 111Nm.

Given the power deficit, there’s no surprise that the century sprint takes an anaemic 14.6 seconds. Top speed is the high end of 160km/h too. Since the target audience of the Aqua will perhaps be more concerned about economy than performance, let’s look the other way and discuss the car’s biggest forte.

During our test run with the car over city and highway driving, we managed about 6.5L/100km, stunning figures indeed. However do not expect that trips to the pumps will be less frequent with the low fuel consumption – the 36-litre tank is relatively tiny.

To be in on the roads as a city runabout, the Aqua is fine – at higher speeds, the wind and road noise is more pronounced. To drive, the Aqua steers fairly but a change to grippier tyres would be good. The brakes are spongy but that’s a result of the regenerative braking system that aims to improve fuel consumption, and simply needs getting used to.

In conclusion, the Aqua is a fine car for its price. As a city runabout, milling about running errands around town in gridlocked traffic where efficiency is key, the Aqua is a great cost-effective tool. Coupled with Toyota’s promise of reliability and its conservative but chic styling, the Aqua may well be a family runabout worth considering.


Car reviewed sponsored by: Zion Auto

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