Toyota Ractis / Verso-S


Debut: 2010
Maker: Toyota
Predecessor: Ractis Mk1 (2005)



 Published on 11 Mar 2011 All rights reserved. 


A decade ago Toyota produced one of the earliest mini-MPVs in the world. It was called Funcargo at home or Yaris Verso in Europe. In 2005, the Funcargo was replaced with Ractis. Still built on the Vitz / Yaris platform, but the new car grew larger and became a standalone model. It served very well the Japanese domestic market as well as South East Asian market like Hong Kong (btw, just saw one yesterday on the street, and it still looks great.) In late 2010, the second generation Ractis was introduced in Japan. A few months later, it returns to the European market under the name Verso-S. Is it good enough to take back the market share it abandoned ? Let's see…

First glance to the car find its exterior styling quite pleasing. It hits the right balance between cute and smart. Narrow shut lines and accurate panel fit emphasize its Japanese origin. Sensible size, too. Measuring just 4 meters long like most superminis, it slips into narrow streets and tight parking space easily, making it an easy drive in congested cities. On the other hand, the 2550 mm wheelbase and tall roof provide lots of space inside. It is genuinely capable of taking four 6-footers, something superminis struggle to. The sense of spaciousness can be enhanced further if you take the full-length panoramic glass roof.



Unfortunately, the cabin is not backed with Japanese quality. Dashboard is made of cheap hard plastics like the recent Vitz, implying the high production cost in Japan and unfavourable exchange rate compromise its choice of materials. Another disappointment is the lack of flexible seating plan. Its rear seat plays no more tricks than fold and 60/40 split, just like conventional superminis. Therefore you may question whether it is really a mini-MPV, or just a tall-roof supermini.

On the positive side, the boot is quite large at 429 liters, including an empty spare wheel well under the flexible boot floor. Although the cabin does not feel expensive, it is undeniably solid and durable.



The European Verso-S is basically the same as the Japanese Ractis except minor suspension tweaks and different choices of powertrain. While the Japanese car offers two petrol engines (1.33-liter Dual-VVT-i and 1.5-liter VVT-i), European car gets the smaller petrol engine and a 1.4-liter 8-valve turbo diesel (from European Yaris), accompany with standard 6-speed manual gearbox instead of the Japanese car's 7-step CVT. The combination of diesel engine and manual gearbox should give the best real-world performance as well as fuel economy. However, the cheaper 1.33 petrol will be the best seller.

On the road, the 1.33 engine is eager to rev, but it is also quite peaky. The use of dual-variable valve timing is not enough to compensate for its lack of capacity. Acceleration is quite good, but refinement suffers. The CVT tends to keep the small engine revving high and noisily under moderate to full throttle. The 6-speed manual doesn't help with its high gearing, which necessitates high engine rpm at motorway speed. In town, however, the Ractis / Verso-S feels much more relaxed. Apparently, the car is designed for intra-city use.



European motoring journalists reported satisfying ride and handling on the Verso-S. The suspension setting is soft but the damping is well judged, so it irons out most surface irregularities except high-speed bumps. The handling is predicable. There is a fair amount of body lean in corners but it won't spoil your confidence. The steering is light and vague, but it weighs up progressively in corners. The car feels agile on B-roads, thanks to quick turn-in and the availability of lift-off oversteer. High speed refinement is not so good. Apart from the aforementioned engine noise, wind noise is also a serious problem at motorway cruising.

That will limit its success in European market. The Ractis / Verso-S is clearly designed for Tokyo, Osaka or the like, where high percentage of mileage is spent on urban area. From this perspective, its compact size, small engine and CVT make sense. Nevertheless, its lack of cabin flexibility, perceived quality and cruising refinement is still a disappointment for a people carrier. This make it hard to recommend over the versatile Citroen C3 Picasso, Opel Meriva and Honda Fit / Jazz.
Verdict: 
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Ractis 1.3
2010
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3995 / 1695 / 1585 mm
2550 mm
Inline-4
1329 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
-
-
95 hp
89 lbft
CVT
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
175/60R16
1090 kg
103 mph (est)
12.5 (est)
-
Ractis 1.5
2010
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3995 / 1695 / 1585 mm
2550 mm
Inline-4
1496 cc
DOHC 16 valves, VVT
-
-
109 hp
102 lbft
CVT
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
185/60R16
1110 kg
110 mph (est)
11.5 (est)
-



























Performance tested by: -





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Verso-S 1.3
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3990 / 1695 / 1595 mm
2550 mm
Inline-4
1329 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
-
-
99 hp
92 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
185/60R16
1070 kg
106 mph (c)
12.1*
-
Verso-S 1.4D4-D
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3990 / 1695 / 1595 mm
2550 mm
Inline-4, diesel
1364 cc
SOHC 8 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
90 hp
151 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
185/60R16
1135 kg
109 mph (c)
11.4 (est)
-



























Performance tested by: *Autocar





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