Review: Toyota Proace City (2020)


Efficient diesel engines. Generous equipment levels. Handy bulkhead hatch and lots of storage up front. 1000kg payload.

Limited engine line-up. Interior isn't as fancy as the Volkswagen Caddy Cargo's.

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Toyota Proace City (2020): At A Glance

While Toyota has a reputation for making dependable passenger cars and SUVs, it's not got quite the same name for itself in the world of commercial vehicles. The rugged Hilux pick-up truck is perhaps the brand's best-known CV, while there's also the mid-size Toyota Proace which has been quietly rivalling the Ford Transit Custom since 2016.

The brand's first entry in the world of small vans is this, the Toyota Proace City. It's basically been bought in from Stellantis (formerly PSA Group), which means it's almost identical to the Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo.

The Toyota Proace City is available with long or short wheelbases and a choice of three trim levels: Active, Icon and Design. There's just one engine available for now, a 100PS 1.5-litre diesel paired with a five-speed manual gearbox. A more powerful 130PS version of the 1.5 is on its way (twinned with an eight-speed automatic gearbox), while there's also set to be electric version with a 161-mile range.

Stick with the diesel and running costs ought to be low, with WLTP fuel economy figures of up to 50.4mpg for the standard-length model and up to 46.9mpg for the long-wheelbase variant. Maintenance schedules are up to 25,000 miles/two years, while all Proace City vans are covered for up to 10 years by Toyota's Relax warranty cover.

The Toyota Proace City Active is the entry point to the range, with standard kit including air conditioning, auto headlights and one-touch power windows. It also gets a DAB radio, full metal bulkhead and twin sliding side doors.

The Icon trim level adds an eight-inch media system (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), the brand's clever Smart Cargo system, three front seats and an electronic parking brake. A reversing camera is also standard, as well as parking sensors (front and rear), power-fold door mirrors, cruise control and front fog lights.

Topping the range is the Toyota Proace City Design. This adds 16-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured bumpers, navigation and an alarm. Toyota's Safety Sense package of driver-assist features is also standard, including a lane departure alert system, road sign assist and driver fatigue alert.

Ultimately, the Toyota Proace City is a really convincing vehicle in the small van market. The underwhelming engine line-up limits its appeal slightly, while the new Volkswagen Caddy Cargo is a slightly trendier choice. But the Proace City is a convincing workhorse, backed up by a lengthy warranty and low running costs.

What does a Toyota Proace City (2020) cost?

Toyota Proace City (2020): What's It Like Inside?

The Toyota Proace City's cabin feels much likes its French counterparts, with lots of hard-wearing plastics and functional controls. While it does the job, the new Volkswagen Caddy's more car-like interior is more visually impressive.

Icon and Design models come with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the top-spec model also adds navigation. This is easy to use and a worthy upgrade over the entry-level Active with its basic audio system.

There are no fewer than 16 storage compartments around the cabin ranging from a small coin holder to a 15-litre space in the centre console. There's even a cooled glovebox for keeping your sandwiches fresh.

Much like the Citroen Berlingo, Vauxhall Combo and Peugeot Partner, the Toyota Proace City is available in two lengths: Short and Long. The smallest version of the Proace City has a load length of 1817mm while the long version provides up to 2167mm as standard.

Both vans get the option of a Smart Cargo bulkhead loading hatch that adds 1273mm to the overall load length - up to 3440mm - by allowing you to drop the passenger seat and carry items the full length of the van.

The Toyota Proace City Short has a maximum load volume of 3.3 cubic metres (3.8 with Smart Cargo), while the Long can carry 3.9 metres (4.4 with Smart Cargo). Both can carry two Euro pallets, while a 1000kg payload is impressive for a van of this size.

All models come with three lights in the back, along with six tie-down hooks and a rubber floor covering. The back can be lined out in ply as an optional extra.

What's the Toyota Proace City (2020) like to drive?

As part of Toyota's 'keep it simple' approach with the Proace City, the engine line-up is currently limited to just one. It's the same 1.5-litre unit you'll find in other small Stellantis vans. In the Proace City, it produces 100PS, which is enough to propel it to 62mph in 11.5 seconds.

It feels grunty enough for hauling a van-load of whatever it is you want to shift. It's only offered with a five-speed manual gearbox, which feels a bit sloppy to use and means refinement takes a knock at motorway speeds. There is a more powerful 130PS model with an eight-speed automatic gearbox on its way.

The lack of a petrol offering in the Proace City seems a bit of an oversight in a van that's aimed at the urban market, but an electric version will arrive on forecourts in the near future.

Engines aside, the Proace City's car-based underpinnings mean it's easy to drive, with light steering and a tight turning circle. Front and rear parking sensors are standard on Icon and Design trim levels, as well as a useful (if not particularly high-res) reversing camera. Like most vans of this size, you shouldn't have an issue squeezing the Proace City into an underground car park or a tight parking space.

Ride comfort is on the soft size, which means it feels a bit bouncy when it's unladen. It's great on potholed city streets, however, and soon settles down once you've got a load in the back.