If I had to choose between a Corolla and the brand-new third generation Verso there'd be no question: the Verso would win hands down.

So, OK, it's a people mover - which isn't everybody's cup of tea and is a pretty dumb idea if there's just one of you cruising around but for a family you can't get better than this.

Particularly if you're a Toyota fan, and because now he Verso is a standalone product, made in Turkey.

It's beautiful. A great seven-seater (both the second row and the third row of two seats flip right down so if you need a big flat open boot you've got it), it combines luxury, performance, fantastic features and a price tag that won't strain the budget. You'll pay just R243 300 for the bottom of the range Verso (the 1.6S), R259 000 for the 1.6 SX, R279 900 for the 1.8TX and R296 200 for the two-litre diesel.

Verso, incidentally, is derived from versatility, which is what you get from this vehicle. It has it all: impeccable style, top-of-the-range safety, acres of space and sheer driving pleasure. and the new 1.6 and 1.8 engines as well as the all-new diesel addition to the range all use Toyota's 'Optimal Drive' technology to deliver more performance with lower fuel consumption and less emissions.

Big comfy seats, an underfloor storage system (ideal for stashing bulky objects), a sliding tray under the front passenger seat, a retractable cover that keeps valuables out of sight and can be used when the two seats in the third row are folded flat, aircon, electric power steering, Bluetooth functionality, six cupholders (depending on model)... the list is endless.

At the recent launch in the KZN Midlands I drove the diesel and the 1.8 and apart from the highways, also took a lengthy detour along a rough and rugged farm road to visit some friends. The Verso behaved impeccably. Smooth and quiet, despite the condition of the bumpy, rocky, dirt roads, silent and swift on the tar. And it's got cruise control, so you simply push the button to set your speed, and relax.

My daughter and I loved the rear door sunshades (standard on the 1.8 TX and 2.0 D-4D TX). And we enjoyed being able to pop our water bottles into the upper (there are two) cubbyhole, which has a cooling system, (not available on the 1.6S but you'll get it on the 1.6SX and the rest of the range).

It's also a really good-looking vehicle.

Standard items include a headlight levelling system, Iso-Fix rear seat anchors with top tethers, anti-whiplash driver and front passenger head restrants and anti-lock brakes.

All Versos have a space-saver spare wheel and come with a five-year or 90 000km service plan that pays for all scheduled service items.

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