Not content with giving the Verso a major overhaul last year, Toyota has now introduced even more upgrades for 2014 - including an efficient new engine.

Sourced and built by BMW, the new 1.6 D-4D replaces the old 2.0-litre diesel and is essentially the same 110bhp unit that powers the MINI Cooper D. Toyota has tinkered with the engine electrics and mounts to make it as smooth and quiet as possible, but the switch to a smaller capacity has caused a drop in performance.

With 270Nm of torque (40Nm less than the old 2.0-litre) the 0-62mph sprint takes 1.5 seconds longer at 12.7 seconds, but the big improvement to fuel economy will help to make the Verso more competitive with the class leaders.

Featuring start/stop technology as standard, the new unit returns an official 62.8mpg, and that in turn translates to a tax-friendly CO2 figure of 119g/km. That means the Verso is still not quite as clean as rivals like the new Citroen C4 Grand Picasso, and Renault Grand Scenic, but it's a move in the right direction.

Fitting a new engine has not had a big impact on the way that it drives though. On our smooth French testing route the ride felt smooth and compliant, and the light steering and precise six-speed gearbox both make it feel very easy to drive.

Although there’s less power and torque, it’s still flexible enough to overtake on the motorway, and settles into a quiet cruise in sixth gear. Accelerate hard away from a junction though, and the new 1.6-litre clatters around noisily, and it starts to get quite intrusive once it revs beyond 3,000rpm.

Steep hills also highlight the need to stay in the narrow torque band, and the Ford Grand C-MAX will still run rings around the Verso, both in terms of driver involvement and steering feel.

On the plus side, the fact that it's shorter than most of its rivals does make the Verso a lot easier to drive around congested city centres, and mean it’s easier to park too, helped by the upright driving position and excellent all-round visibility.

Toyota has also taken this chance to add some interior upgrades for 2014. The ‘Touch 2’ infotainment system - standard on Icon trim and above - has a clearer display with four times more pixels than before, and has a reversing camera too.

A new bronze exterior colour, improved seat fabrics and a more tactile gear knob round off the cabin changes, while a new 'Trend' trim level has been added to the range, which adds a smarter set of grey 17-inch alloys and sat-nav as standard.

The seven seats are all easy to tumble and fold (although the third row is strictly for kids) and once stowed, leave a perfectly flat loading bay. However the Verso’s not the most spacious MPV, with just 440-litres of boot space in five-seat mode.

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