Toyota Agya packs a big punch

Observer writer

Friday, June 01, 2018

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ON the surface the 2018 Toyota Agya and the Morant Bay lighthouse may not seem to have much in common, but they do. As Jamaica's oldest lighthouse, it sits on the most eastern tip of the island, providing guidance to those who tread the country's waterways. The Agya sits at the front of the Toyota's local automotive offerings, the tip of the spear so to speak, with the explicit aim of guiding customers into the brand's ethos of trouble-free motoring.

From the outside the Agya screams pocket rocket. In G trim, the only trim level available, the Agya's sporty appearance starts with Toyota's current design language — a large front grille. It generates an unmistakable look. Further additions to its outer visuals are the rakish front bumper with integrated fog lamps and a rear roof spoiler. No hubcaps here; 14-inch rims round out the package.

Press the Agya's key and the door unlocks to paint a slightly different picture. The interior has been designed by Toyota's sense of efficiency in order to ensure longevity and years of hassle-free operation. Excluding the touch-screen stereo, as there's no infotainment system, buttons can be counted on two hands. The Agya is uncomplicated as one can get. Across the dashboard, there are just seven controls. The starkness is jarring at first, but upon use it begins to make sense. The few controls operate with an assuredness lacking in many modern cars. Forget virtual or haptic feedback; each control has a satisfying weight to them, leaving little doubt they're carrying out their task. They are clear and easily reached from the driving position.

Interior space is good given its narrow dimensions, as four full-sized occupants can travel in comfort. However, the high-mounted seats might impact the headroom of those taller than average. On the positive side, the arrangement offers excellent all-around visibility. Those needing more luggage space can fold the rear benches down. Safety is handled by dual front air bags, five seat belts, and anti-lock brakes.

Look deeper into the Agya and its dynamics come to the forefront. It's a very pleasant car to drive and encourages use beyond the urban slog it's designed for. Interior refinement is good, with low road noise and comfortable seating for long distances. The three-cylinder one-litre engine is gutsy and gives off a unique engine note when pushed. Paired with the Agya's small dimensions, it can cut through city traffic with ease. On the open road, keeping it in the powerband can see triple-digit speeds. Here the size also helps as narrow country lanes don't seem so narrow anymore. The chassis can keep up as the suspension isn't tuned too softly. Its lightweight means it glides over rough patches, but doesn't succumb to excessive body roll in corners. Helping its driving credentials is a stable fuel mileage that doesn't care if the vehicle is stuck in stop and go traffic or flat out down a country road.

The Agya is one of those few cars that excel beyond its mantra. It's comfortable, refined, spacious, and fuel efficient for its class, thus able to provide years of trouble free motoring. One could drive it for years without experiencing the thrill of barrelling down many of Jamaica's B-roads, with its three-cylinder bark in one's ear and the confidence-inspiring handling.

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