Toyota U-turn over Aygo safety equipmentWhich? pressure prompts Toyota to reinstate ESC

09 May 2012

2012 Toyota Aygo: ESC back on the options list

Toyota has responded rapidly to calls from Which? to reinstate electronic stability control (ESC) on its Aygo city car range.

On 3 May, Which? 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 a retrograde step, at a time when all brand-new models now have to come with stability control as standard. Consequently, Which? decided to downgrade the Aygo to a ‘Don’t Buy’.

Which? welcomes Toyota’s response

Which? is pleased that Toyota has acted so swiftly to reintroduce ESC to the options list for the Aygo, and has rescinded the Aygo’s ‘Don’t Buy’ flag as a result.

However, it’s disappointing that Toyota hasn’t taken the opportunity to start fitting ESC as standard - even on higher-spec models.

The anti-skid feature is now bundled alongside various entertainment and convenience options, meaning it is available for £965 on the entry-level Aygo, through to £370 on the pricier Aygo Ice. 

This makes stability control on the entry-level Aygo the most expensive ESC option on the market (typical prices range between £200 and £460 on other city cars).

Seat Mii

Seat Mii rival with optional ESC costs just £8,045

Aygo still expensive

The cheapest Aygo, fitted with ESC, will now cost £9,500. This still makes the dated city car look distinctly pricey against more modern rivals such as the Seat Mii, Skoda Citigo and VW Up – all of which are available with ESC for less than £8,530.

Toyota has cited ‘low customer demand’ as the basis for its original decision to drop ESC from the Aygo’s options list. However, Scott Brownlee of Toyota UK went on to say it was being reinstated ‘in line with Toyota’s philosophy of listening to the voice of the customer.’

Which? Car editor, Richard Headland, says: ‘While we welcome Toyota’s U-turn on ESC, this case clearly shows why safety features should always be standard, not offered as options. Buyers often don’t realise the benefits of a system like ESC until it’s too late.

‘This is a positive step from Toyota, but Which? wants to see all current models fitted with standard ESC ahead of the EU’s official 2014 deadline.’

ESC saves lives

ESC is a vital safety aid that uses sensors to detect if the car’s wheels are starting to skid. ESC will then intervene to brake individual wheels and bring the car back into line.

Department for Transport statistics show that cars fitted with ESC have 25% fewer accidents than those not fitted with it.

EU rules demand that new models type-approved after November 2011 must have standard ESC, while existing models must fall into line by 2014.

In Which? testing, the Aygo performed much better in emergency handling tests when fitted with ESC.

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