/ Motoring

Toyota Aygo’s stability is back under control – at what cost?

So Toyota has done a u-turn and reinstated electronic stability control for its Aygo city car. Like everyone here at Which? I’m delighted that Aygo buyers are once again being offered this vital safety item.

But has Toyota gone far enough? Should Toyota in fact fit electronic stability control (ESC) as standard? Or at the very least, offer it at cost price?

Last week, we highlighted how ESC (called ‘VSC’ in Toyotas) had been deleted from the Aygo’s options list, as part of the car’s 2012 facelift.

This was unquestionably a retrograde step, especially considering that all newly launched models now have to come with stability control as standard. Consequently, we decided to downgrade the Aygo to a Which? ‘Don’t Buy’.

What price for safety?

Toyota has responded swiftly to our concerns, and ESC is now back on the options list – but it’s extraordinarily expensive. For example, if you buy a base Toyota Aygo, priced at £8,535, and want to add ESC as a vital safety item, you’ll have to pay an extra £965, taking the total cost up to £9,500.

OK, you get quite a few extra items as part of Toyota’s ‘Tech Pack 4’, including an upgraded audio, side airbags and electric front windows. But £965 is easily the highest price charged by any car maker if you want optional ESC on any car, full stop.

In fact, it’s even more expensive than the £694 charged for ESC on the entry-level Aygo before Toyota dropped it from the options list. At that price, is it any wonder that only a reported 0.01% of Aygo buyers actually ticked the ESC option box?

I think Toyota should set an example and position itself ahead of the 2014 changeover date when all new cars must have ESC fitted as standard.

At the very least, Toyota should offer customers ESC at cost price. And what is that price? It’s hard to be sure but what I can say is that it’s almost definitely less than £200 – that’s the price that Seat charges for ESC on its Aygo city car rival, the Mii.

Fact is, much newer city cars can be bought with ESC and side airbags for a lot less than an Aygo. For instance, how about a brand new Volkswagen Up with ESC (plus another significant safety item, city braking) for just £8,395?

The importance of electronic stability control

Why should you insist on ESC? Well, when Which? tested an Aygo with ESC, we said its handling was exemplary. But without ESC, we said it was ‘almost inevitable’ that the driver would lose control of the car during our hazard avoidance manoeuvre.

Compounding its woes, Toyota’s Aygo also recorded the second-worst braking performance among all superminis, according to our tests, so the Aygo needs all the safety boosts it can get.

Would you be one of the few car buyers willing to pay £965 for electronic stability control? Or should Toyota, and other manufacturers, act now to make ESC a standard feature on its cars?


Unless there is a law requiring manufacturers to include specific safety features then it is up to them to decide which to include. I would like to be sure about the reliability of ESP and other electronic safety features, on the basis that so many cars develop faults in their warning light systems. Having an ESP system that does not work could be a lot worse than not having it in the first place because it could engender a false sense of security.

In making comparisons between manufacturers, there may be a difference in operation as well as in price. That was certainly the case when anti-lock brakes were introduced. Some manufacturers offered a much superior product. I have no idea if the Toyota ESP is better or just more expensive, but it is a factor worth considering.

Robint says:
24 May 2012

Well I hope you are going to put all the other new cars without the option for ESC on your “don’t buy” list as well

Otherwise I might be tempted to think you have a personal grudge against this lovely little car – worse than Clarkson