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.