- Well-equipped and practical with impressive payload
- Comfortable and easy to drive
- Excellent warranty with option to extend
- The engine and trim choice are limited
- The touchscreen controls are a little fiddly to operate on the move
- Five-speed manual gearbox lacks real bite
Toyota is expanding its light commercial vehicle line-up and, thanks to some collaboration with the Stellantis Group, has developed a very practical, well-equipped and competitively priced compact van.
It’s called the Proace City and there is a choice of short or long-wheel base versions, along with different trim levels called Active and Icon (a new Design model is joining the line-up this year). It is powered by a 1.5-litre turbo-diesel engine with a five-speed manual gearbox and this set-up delivers performance that rivals the best-in-class both in terms of fuel economy and carbon emissions.
Although the vehicle is almost identical to the Peugeot Partner, Citroen Berlingo and Vauxhall Combo, it does maintain its own individual appeal.
On The Road
The Toyota Proace City is powered by a PSA-derived four-cylinder, 1.5-litre turbodiesel engine with five-speed transmission. It delivers 101bhp and 250Nm of torque and can reach from 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds with a top speed of 107mph.
This engine is used to power both the entry level Active and the Icon trim levels. Active is available as short-wheel base while Icon offers a choice of short or long. We opted for the Proace Icon Long.
It is worth noting that in early 2022, Toyota extended the choice for customers by adding a new range-topping Design grade to the line-up. While it is also powered by a diesel 1.5-litre engine, owners have a choice of either 100hp or 130hp outputs, with a six-speed gearbox across the range or an eight-speed automatic transmission available on 130hp versions.
For a small van, our test model, in Icon guise, was nicely agile and nimble to drive with well-weighted steering adding to its appeal in busy city centre environments. The engine offers ample power for the car to travel effortlessly on motorways and it’s actually quite balanced on twisting B roads too.
The five-speed gearbox is smooth enough, but I was looking for a sixth gear on more than one occasion and an automatic box will be a great addition. They are issues answered on the 2022 models as explained above.
The front-wheel drive Proace City Icon is nicely grounded when faced with twisting country lanes and the road holding is also fairly confident provided bends are not attacked too enthusiastically.
The ride quality is also impressive with the effective suspension set-up ironing out most of the bumps and dips along the way. There is a little engine noise as the diesel unit is pushed on, but to be fair, it’s not too intrusive at all.
The handling is relatively sharp which is the norm for Stellantis vans and is also another positive point. After all, van drivers up and down the country work to tight schedules and want their vehicle to be nippy enough to weave through busy traffic. The Toyota Proace City is perfect for that role.
It is quite simplistic with no drive modes to flick through. But that’s not a bad thing really as there is less driver distraction and the van seems to cope well in all settings.
The cruise control is easy to set and adjust on motorways which is essential these days with so many average speed check zones emerging.
It’s a comfortable vehicle that’s easy to manoeuvre with an 11.9 metre turning lock (11.3 metres on the SWB versions) but the rear parking sensors and reversing camera, which are standard on the Icon model, are essential as the rear visibility is non-existent due to a bulkhead partition to protect occupants.
The Toyota Proace City Icon is a compact van that stretches 4,753mm in length, is 2,107mm wide and 1,880mm high. The wheelbase is 2,975mm on the LWB version, reduced to 2,785mm on SWB models.
There are two outward-opening back doors along with two sliding rear doors that offer quick access to goods that are closer to the driver at the front of the cargo bay.
It’s a neat looking van with tinted glass, roof rails, side protection mouldings, power-adjustable heated mirrors, front fog lights, daytime running lights and 16-inch black steel wheels.
The interior is well thought out and features fabric upholstery to the single driver’s seat and two-passenger bench seat. There are powered windows, cabin floor carpets with an option to add rubber floor mats, a chrome insert on the gear lever and satin chrome trim on the steering wheel.
A substantial partition protects occupants just in case any items should shift forwards during transportation.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
With manual seat and steering wheel adjustment, it’s simple to find a comfortable driving position and there is plenty of kit to explore too. Business drivers obviously need to be fully connected on the move and they can inside the Proace City van.
An eight-inch multi-media touchscreen offers easy access to audio and smartphone functions and there is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Other features include Bluetooth, USB connections, a very handy reversing camera, four-speaker sound system, DAB radio and a colour multi-information screen behind the steering wheel. Step up to the new Design specification and sat nav is included.
The touchscreen is nice and responsive, but it can be difficult to press the correct icon if travelling along bumpy roads.
Our model featured the driver’s seat along with a double bench seat combination. That meant there was no central tunnel. Instead the gear lever is high-set and closer to the dashboard.
The layout is all quite simplistic with steering wheel controls for the audio and an easy-to-set cruise control system.
Space & Practicality
The Proace City is available with two fully sized seats or a single driver’s seat matched to a double bench. This double seat is not that big and a couple of adults would start complaining after a while.
There is a Smart Cargo feature too which is standard on Icon models. The outer passenger seat can be folded and there is a hatch in the bulkhead to gain extra load space and increase the load length by 1.3 metres so items such as piping and ladders can be transported.
The passenger seatback nearest the driver can also be folded forward to form a desktop. Clever stuff.
There are swing-out rear doors along with two sliding side doors, and the LWB model that we tested had a load floor length of 2,167mm, increased to 3,440mm thanks to the Smart Cargo function.
The maximum load height is 1,200mm and the width is 1,527mm. The load area is 3.93 metres increasing to 4.43 metres with the Smart Cargo. It has a payload limit of one tonne and can also tow a trailer weighing up to 1.2 tonnes.
There are 16 storage points around the cabin, ranging from a small coin holder and cup holders on the outer edges of the dashboard to a 15-litre space in the centre console. There are overhead shelves, wide door bins and numerous trays.
The Toyota Proace City line-up starts from £18,813 for the Active model with short-wheel base and rises to £22,063 for the Icon Long version, as tested. These prices include VAT.
The new costings for 2022 will see a slight increase in pricing with our version rising by about £800. The newly launched range-topping Design models with optional engine outputs and transmissions range from £24,134 to £25,884 OTR.
Our test model was wearing MY21 plates and cost £22,063, although the optional Safety Sense and metallic paint added £965 and £545 respectively to the final price-tag.
The diesel-powered Proace City could deliver up to 49.5mpg on a combined run with carbon emissions from 150g/km. It would have a Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £275 and sits in insurance group 34.
Quality & Reliability
Toyota has an enviable reputation globally for developing vehicles that are both reliable and have longevity in their tanks. However, this model shares much of its electronic systems with siblings at the PSA and now Stellantis Group. Even so, it should deliver thousands of miles of trouble-free motoring.
The interior is relatively simplistic in its layout with a good range of practical surfaces from the hardy cloth seats to wipe clean console areas. Everything from the switchgear to the touchscreen feels well-constructed and should survive a working lifestyle without too many problems.
And for added peace of mind, Toyota offers one of the finest warranty packages in the business. It’s called the Toyota Relax option and after the initial three-years, 60,000-mile standard cover time has elapsed, customers can extend their warranty by a further one year or 10,000 miles each time their vehicle is serviced at an authorised Toyota centre. This warranty is provided at no extra cost, up to a limit of 10 years or 100,000 miles.
Safety & Security
The Proace City features many safety systems and driver assistance aids found in Toyota’s cars aimed at protecting occupants, other road users and preventing accidents from happening in the first place.
Standard kit on our test model included vehicle stability control, hill-start assist, downhill assist control, tyre pressure monitoring, an adjustable speed limiter and eCall.
Our van also featured Toyota Safety Sense as an option and this introduced a pre-collision system, road sign assist, lane departure alert and a driver fatigue monitor. This addition, along with a tow bar, upgraded alarm and immobiliser added £965 to the final cost.
This safety pack is not available on Active models, but is an optional extra on the Icon versions and standard on new Design trim levels.
The Toyota Proace City has already scooped a number of awards and it’s not surprising. It’s practical, feature-rich, easy to drive and economical to run. Factor in that optional 10-year warranty and it’s clear just why it leads a chasing pack.