From £10,319
One of the most innovative small cars ever

Our Verdict

Toyota iQ
Is this the small car revolution Toyota claims it is?

Is the Toyota IQ the small car revolution which its maker claims it is?

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1 September 2008

What is it?

This is ‘the world’s smallest premium four-seater’ according to Toyota. It is also one of the most innovative small cars to have entered production.

The Toyota iQ was also created as part of the company’s New Small Car strategy, which aimed to “revolutionize vehicle packaging”. Toyota engineers also sum up the iQ as a “car with A-segment dimension, performance surpassing a B-segment car and interior and exterior quality in line with a C-segment car or higher”.

The Toyota iQ measures 2985mm from nose to tail and sits on a unique front-engined platform. Underpinning the iQ concept was the repositioning of the front wheels so that they are located ahead of the engine, achieved using a differential mounted forward of the engine’s crankshaft.

Toyota says this allowed it to reduce the typical distance from the tip of the front bumper to the accelerator by 120mm – extra space, which has found its way into the cabin.

To keep the intrusion into the cabin at a minimum, the iQ gets a high-mounted steering rack, with centre take-off for the column and an ultra-compact climate control unit, which is powerful enough to meet Toyota’s standards for the Middle East.

The Toyota iQ also uses a very thin, flat fuel tank mounted under the floorpan. The front chassis members are closer together than normal, allowing improved wheel articulation and a very tight turning circle. Weight has been kept down to between 860 and 895kg.

The launch engine will be a 68bhp 1.0-litre, three-pot petrol unit driving a five-speed manual. A new six-speed CVT box is optional. Next year a 1.33-litre petrol engine with a start-stop system will be offered. The UK will not get the 1.4-litre diesel iQ.

What’s it like?

While the Toyota iQ’s engineering is highly unusual, the driving dynamics are not. Despite being very short, the iQ drives like a much larger machine. It might be more expensive, but is also undoubtedly superior to the Smart.

There are three reasons for this. Firstly, the shoulder room in the wide, spacey cabin almost matches that of Toyota Auris. Secondly, the Toyota iQ is impressively refined. But most importantly, the car is very stable even at higher motorway speeds.

It avoids the Smart’s rather tiptoe, understeery manner and is much more impressively planted on the road. On the French autoroutes, the Toyota iQ was unaffected by passing lorries and coaches and passenger voices hardly have to be raised at a 100kmh (60mph) cruise.

However, despite the huge windscreen and doors, the over-shoulder view is poor. The thick B-pillar and rear ‘porthole’ window make angled junctions a bit tricky.

We sampled both the manual 1.4-litre diesel and the 1.33-litre petrol with a CVT ‘box - the petrol version is due in the UK next year - and both engines gave the Toyota iQ decent big-car performance. The 1.33 and CVT was an impressive combination offering surprisingly muscular performance with two up and some heavy luggage, even when climbing hills.

The CVT box is very clean shifting and there’s none of the momentary lag and intrusive engine braking that still upsets the Smart’s forward progress. However, when in ‘eco’ mode, the box shifts into top gear very quickly, leaving the engine on the point of labouring at urban speeds.

The iQ steers with precision and has the most extraordinary turning circle. If anything needs attention it’s the rather dead-feeling and unprogressive brakes and the ride, which can get very choppy on broken surfaces.

The iQ will accommodate three full-size adults. The front passenger slides the front seat forward – while still having plenty of room – and another adult can get in behind.

The usefulness of the rear seat behind the driver depends on the length of the driver’s legs – but it has the head and shoulder room for a biggish child, if not another adult. The front seats are also wide, high-backed and comfortable. With the rear seats in use, there’s no boot space at all. Fold them, and there’s room for quite a decent amount of luggage.

Should I buy one?

That’s hard to say. You can steer it on a sixpence and park it nearly anywhere. It will take three adults (four at pinch) and is impressively refined and stable. But with prices kicking-off at £10k, and its Co2 emissions no more than competitive, it will make sense for most buyers to stick with a conventional supermini.

Toyota IQ 1.0 VVT CVT

Price NA; Engine 3 cyls, 996cc, petrol; Power 68bhp at 4800rpm; Torque 67lb ft at 4800rpm; 0-62mph 14.1sec; Top speed 93mph; Gearbox 6-spd CVT; Kerb weight NA; Economy NA; CO2 99g/km

Join the debate

Comments
29

1 September 2008

I like it, and I think it's certainly innovative - but the original Mini was innovative and it didn't cost the earth!! £10,000 is too much for the iQ. I know it's innovative and displays some clever technology, but a starting price of £8500 would have been much more reasonable, to compete with the Fiat 500. Still, it'll probably do well, and deservedly so.

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

1 September 2008

I believe the iQ price is a smaller proportion of the current average industrial salary than the Mini list price was in 1959. I think its main problem is that it doesn't look quite cute enough, (especially in profile), to win the hearts of its intended market. The Fiat 500 will cane it.

PaulJ

1 September 2008

[quote Paul J]I think its main problem is that it doesn't look quite cute enough, (especially in profile), to win the hearts of its intended market. [/quote]

Not sure about this one.

The smart isnt cute but it is functional and this is what the iq is. I recon it will pick sales up from people who want a better more refined smart.

1 September 2008

[quote ecokarter]The smart isnt cute but it is functional and this is what the iq is.[/quote]Take a look at the picture of the Smart and iQ next to each other.

A Smart car will carry two people, the iQ will take three or even four. That's not just functional it's extraordinary.

I want one..............with 120bhp.

GD

1 September 2008

[quote Mini1]I like it, and I think it's certainly innovative - but the original Mini was innovative and it didn't cost the earth!! £10,000 is too much for the iQ.[/quote]

Well said. How quickly people seem to have forgotten the sub-10 foot Mini - a real ground breaker. It taught the industry what "packaging" meant, although the term was not current then. I cannot be sure about average wages then and now, but having £438 play £10000 does seem to make the iQ expensive.

GB

2 September 2008

Sadly again we see the east trying to copy the west. This car looks great but sadly its a smart car wannabe.

Here we see what technically I am sure will be on of the best in class with a good chassis, good choice of engine and good build quality, but the design of the car is the mostr imortant part, and where a smart for two looks sofisticated this looks like something you'd expect to find in an Early Learning Centre catalogue.

Good car, bad shape.

2 September 2008

[quote Hirsch Performance]

Sadly again we see the east trying to copy the west. This car looks great but sadly its a smart car wannabe.

Here we see what technically I am sure will be on of the best in class with a good chassis, good choice of engine and good build quality, but the design of the car is the mostr imortant part, and where a smart for two looks sofisticated this looks like something you'd expect to find in an Early Learning Centre catalogue

[/quote]

So this car 'Looks great' but also looks like 'something you'd find in an Early Learning Centre'

Which one is it?

And if it was a Smart car wanabee they wouldn't have designed it as a four seater.

It's faster than a Smart, more refined, handles better, rides better, can carry four and looks, at worst, utilitairian.

2 September 2008

I like it but I think that the majority of the market might want to pay a lower price for a small vehicle like this etc. I think the Smart also carries some brand value that the Toyota doesn't have, that gives it that 'classless' image that other cars like the Mini and Golf seem to have. However, the fact that it can seat four could open it up to a much wider audience who were put off buying a Smart due to the 2 seats.

2 September 2008

To me the interesting thing about this reportis the apparent improvements gained by changing the front suspension and steering design. Having driven front wheel drive cars (mainly Renault) before the transverse powertrain with MacPherson struts became standard fit I have always felt that this setup is too compromised to provide a truly rewarding drive.

Hopefully these items could be developed further and not just in the cause of overall compactness. If so they might justify the price premium which obviously concerns you with this model

2 September 2008

Ok, so it's a development of the Smart concept. The Smart has been around a while now and has taken this long for anyone to come up with a viable alternative.

Maybe if extra development costs were offset by a higher retail price as well as adding 29cms to the overall length of a Smart it could also be a so called fancy minuscule '3 or 4 seater'.

Well done Toyota for actually doing this - it's a shame Smart/Mercedes didn't capitalise on the brands existing reputation and do the same (the ForFour, hang your heads in shame!)

The Smart still is and always will be one of the most innovative concepts of recent times, indeed since the Issigonis Mini.

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