How a car like the Toyota iQ handles has more to do with its ability to thrive amid the urban warfare on our city streets than how it flows through bends on quiet country roads. In town, its case is helped massively by ultra-compact dimensions and its world-beating turning circle. It’ll about-face in such a small space that you actually have to re-educate your mind to stop you from passing potential turning spots without even considering them. And when it comes to parking, that turning circle and its sub-3m length means it’s rivalled only by the Smart, and then largely because of its ability to park nose into the pavement (where legal).
Better still (and unlike the Smart), the iQ has power steering and a quick rack, which, combined with its diminutive dimensions, allows it to change direction with impressive alacrity.
But there’s a flaw here, and for a car like this it’s a serious one. The iQ may be the shortest four-seat car on the market by a comfortable margin, but it is also the widest of all selected rivals and wider even than a full-sized hatch like the Volkswagen Polo. That makes it tricky to weave between lanes when you're in dense traffic.
Surprisingly, perhaps, the iQ faces out-of-town handling tests with confidence. The steering remains impressive while grip is reasonable, but most notable (given its severely abbreviated shape) is its stability. Crosswinds don’t upset it, and should you have to brake suddenly in a damp corner, there’s enough natural balance in the chassis and the standard ESP is quick enough to respond before any unruly behaviour is detected.
We were impressed by its ride, too. In fact, for a sub-900kg car with a wheelbase as short as the iQ’s and simple suspension architecture, the level of comfort achieved in all normal conditions is to be applauded.