You're not crazy if you think all of the fantastic small cars this year are French this year. This is the new Toyota Aygo, and it's great that it's a lot more French than the logo on its hood indicates. Even if it's built in the Czech Republic.
Unlike the Yaris, which proves small cars can be extremely boring, the Aygo has that mad, color-contrasting face. What's even more successful is that it's not such an extercise in badge engineering, as its Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 siblings have styles all their own.
There's lots of shiny, colorful plastic inside wrapped around typical controls, but it's way more entertaining to look at than the dash of, yeah, the Yaris.
Powering the Aygo is a 1.0-liter three-pot producing just 68 horses. That said, the similarly sized Mitsubishi Mirage makes 74 horsepower from a 1.2, and it gets that car up to highway speeds eventually.
It also has a glass hatch, like a Volvo 1800ES. But it's more in the name of simplicity. The Aygo, like the Citroen and Peugeot, are meant to be extremely cheap to assemble and cheap to fix. That means it's perfect for the young people who are going to buy them and crash them, or the old people who buy them because they don't want hassles.
Like the Citroen C4 Cactus, the Aygo is a car meant to be cheap to buy and cheap to repair. It's designed for people who care about style and practicality, but need a simple, small car first and foremost. That isn't just a French or European need, it's a global one.
As with all the new French small cars, it's a shame American buyers with the same needs will never get to buy one.
Photos by Máté Petrány