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Madeira vs the Toyota Aygo

"It's brave of Toyota, given their reputation for solid build quality, to enter into a joint venture with Peugeot and Citroen who haven't," said an industry expert on my journalism course last year. "I can't help but imagine the production line building them all to the same quality, then having someone on at the end loosening all the trim screws on the French cars."

It's one of those comments which has stuck with me, especially considering the Aygo is a car I've always for some reason been interested to try. And, as I stood outside a the rent-a-car shop in Madeira's capital, Funchal, on holiday last week I was curious as to how brave Toyota had been.


There are few better places to really put a car through its paces than Madeira, with a mix of tight and twisty mountain roads, new "expresso" motorway routes and a warm and crowded city centre to sample. But the Aygo took it all in its stride, even the near vertical climbs. It's by no means a fast car, but it's light and agile and a real giggle to drive thanks to its skinny, squeely tyres, lack of sound deadening and amusingly raucous 3 pot.

Personally, I think the joint venture has been a really sound decision on Toyota's part. An injection of French DNA has given it real character, and although it has the tinny PSA feel on the doors there's a general feeling of hard-wearing quality which is reassuring.

And Madeira? Well, I think my girlfriend and I were fairly well below the average age of the other tourists, but it's a beautiful island and very relaxed place to visit. A far cry from rainswept Peterborough and the mountain of e-mails I've had to catch up on this week.


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