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Pokier - and thirstier - version of the innovative city car
Steve Cropley Autocar
1 June 2009

What is it?

Toyota has just launched a bigger-engined version of its quirky ‘3+1’ city car, the iQ, with its 67bhp, three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine replaced by a 1.33-litre, 98bhp, four cylinder unit Toyota also uses in other economy models such as Auris and Verso.

The idea is to provide a bit more overtaking and open-roads ability for customers prepared to sacrifice some of the original iQ’s deeply impressive economy in exchange for considerably longer legs, a more conventional engine sound, about 12mph more top speed but remarkably little extra acceleration.

Toyota admit a large part of their motivation is to cater for people who don’t much like the beat of a three-cylinder engine.

What’s it like?

Very similar to the original iQ, really. Called the iQ3 in Britain, it does sound more conventional, and some say it rides a shade more stiffly. You get the higher equipment spec from the three-cylinder iQ2 plus a good-looking pair of 16-inch wheels and the more capable brakes from the already-launched 1.4 litre iQ diesel (not sold in Britain). The iQ3 is about 30 kilograms heavier than three-cylinder editons, and comes both with a six-speed manual gearbox and a CVT ‘automatic’ called Multidrive.

For both versions, you pay £1000 more than for an equal-spec iQ2 triple. For that, you get a car that’ll do 105mph instead of 93mph but its 0-60 mph time (manual) of 13.1 seconds is only about 0.7 seconds better than the smaller-engined car. The small margin is explained, at least partly, by the iQ3’s taller gearing: on the motorway it does slightly better than 25mph/1000 rpm in sixth.

The iQ3’s economy suffers, but not much. The manual’s combined figure of 58.9 mpg is around 6mpg below its cheaper sibling’s, while the CO2 output (113 gm/km), while good, looks a little shabby against the 1.0-litre’s 99gm/km.

As a driver’s car the iQ is definitely more stable, better handling and generally more ‘normal’ than a Smart, its most obvious rival in size, even if it’s quite a lot wider. But against more conventional small cars it pitches quite a bit and the ride quality is no better than par. You buy an iQ because you can truly utilise its unusual qualities


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Should I buy one?

It comes down to how how much fast-roads cruising you want to do. The iQ3 is definitely more effortless on the open road, but it’s not much faster in the real world.

The CVT version is easier to drive than the manual, but its engine sets up a cruising drone many people will find annoying.

And then there’s the extra £1000 Toyota charges for a car with worse fuel mileage (and a smaller cruising range). Logic says that if you’re an iQ person — which means you understand and can utilise the unusual seating/loading layout — you’ll stick to the sweeter, cheaper, slightly more frugal and hardly slower three-cylinder version whose prices seem steep enough already.

Join the debate


1 June 2009

[quote Autocar]Toyota has just launched a bigger-engined version of its quirky ‘3+1’ city car,[/quote]

hayabusa engine anyone?

1 June 2009

Something doesn't add up here. 98bhp in a tiny car and it takes over 13 seconds to get to 62mph. Even accounting for longer gears thats not good. If a bog standard 99bhp Focus can crack 60 under 12 seconds (entirely unremarkable), this should be much quicker.

And a plea to Autocar, please sort out your yellow data boxes. So often the information is wrong. I've refrained from mentioning it until now because we all make mistakes, but it's getting frustrating to read.

1 June 2009

to put it into perspective, the suzuki swift with the 100bhp 1.3 engine, so same power/capacity gave a 0-60mph time of 8.5 seconds. and that wasn't a 3+1 either it was a 4 seater. but today though it would be called a 0+0 as its cramped in all seats.

1 June 2009

"pair of 16-inch wheels"

this new IQ is a 2 wheeler?

2 June 2009

i too cant understand the performance. According to toyota the yaris is 150 kg heavier than the IQ, and with the 1 litre engine is 1 second slower to 60. but with the 1.33 the yaris takes 4 seconds off that time. The IQ really should be in the region of 10 seconds.

I had imagined that this 1.33 was the engine the Aygo/107/C1 was in need of, but if it has the same effect there, it sounds like it would be pointless.

But Steve you are right. If you are an IQ person the 1.0 has to make more sense.

2 June 2009

A step in the right direction - think quite a few people are put off "downsizing" to cars like this because they have limited power, limiting their desirability out of the urban environment. Granted, they must be frugal but a bit of choice would be nice.

Along with the Aygo/etc, good case in point is the Jazz - one with a few more horses just to make it a bit more soothing on the motorway would do nicely, thanks very much.

Back on the iQ, noticed at the Paris Motor show that after a few days on the stand, the interior trim was in a pretty poor state - a tad worrying.

2 June 2009

Was it designed by Dr. Seuss, I would expect to see the Cat in the Hat jump out of that thing.

Would you could you with a fox?

Would you could you in an econobox?

2 June 2009

I don't care what engine it has. Anyone driving one looks a right eejit!

2 June 2009

I'm sure they have their positive aspects (low costs, easy to park and dart about in urban areas etc), but try as I might, I just cannot get excited about midget cars.

2 June 2009

Just buy an Aygo. At least it doesn't look like there's something wrong with it.


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