What is the Toyota iQ?
The Toyota iQ is a very unusual thing in this day and age: a car with character, from a Japanese manufacturer that does a fine line in turning out reliable white-goods-type cars.
There is not a great deal of logic behind the iQ, however. It takes up nearly as much space as a Fiat 500, yet with all four seats occupied its interior is as cramped as a rush-hour train that’s short on carriages.
It’s also quite expensive. So this is a trinket car, more a style statement than practical transport. At a push it can seat two adults and two young children; try fitting four adults in an iQ and you’re likely to come to blows over who has to be shoehorned into the back seats.
It’s good to know that the iQ gets a maximum five-star crash safety rating from Euro NCAP, and there’s even a rear windscreen airbag and stability control fitted to all models. The optimum model is the 1-litre with a manual transmission in 2 specification, as it’s so frugal and clean that it’s exempt from road tax.
The 1-litre engine has bags of character. It’s a three-cylinder petrol unit, shared with the Toyota Aygo, and it sounds similar to a Porsche 911, a pleasant surprise and infinitely more fun than the 1.3-litre, four-cylinder alternative. It needs plenty of revs to get the best from it, so maintaining optimum fuel economy (Toyota claims 64.2mpg) will always be a struggle, but there is something endearing about taking a small car by the scruff of its neck and scything your way through traffic like a courier about to miss a delivery deadline.
On the motorway the sound is sufficiently subdued to make the iQ feasible for long runs. There’s also little wind noise, and the upright, high driving position gives a commanding view out over other traffic, making it relaxing to drive. The gearchange, brakes and steering are all direct, and the car feels reasonably stable — and a lot more responsive than that other micro machine, the Smart.
Arguably the most annoying trait about the iQ is its ride comfort. The short wheelbase and wheel-at-each-corner stance can make it pogo about in an unpleasant fashion, especially over sharp undulations. In that respect, it’s a little like the original Mini.
The iQ looks cool from the outside, all minimal chic. It’s a similar story inside: the dashboard is well made and refreshingly free of distractions. Some will like that; others might prefer more gadgets and gizmos to play with.
If you’re only ever going to carry one passenger in an iQ, its cabin is acceptably spacious. But try to take two or three along for the ride and space rapidly runs out. In an attempt to free up rear-seat space, the front passenger seat is set further forward than the driver’s, and to a degree it helps. However, with an average-height driver at the wheel, there’s so little legroom behind their seat that the space is rendered redundant unless you have a baby in a rear-facing seat, or, alternatively, are happy to use it to extend the boot space.
And you’ll need to do that, because, at 32 litres, the slender boot can only just accommodate an attaché case or umbrella. Fold both rear seats down and there is 238 litres of luggage capacity.
The One to Buy
Toyota iQ 2 1.0 VVT-i
- £11,875 (correct at first publication)
- 998cc, 3 cylinders
- 67bhp @ 6000rpm
- 67 lb ft @ 4800rpm
- 5-speed manual
- 0-62mph in 14.7sec
- Top Speed:
- 64.2mpg (combined)
- Road Tax Band:
- L 2985mm, W 1680mm, H 1500mm
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