What is it?
This is the Toyota iQ 2, the plushest version of Toyota’s take on the Smart ForTwo. Except that that the Toyota iQ is front-wheel drive, front-engined and has two (albeit occasional) rear seats.
This is our first chance to sample a right-hand drive version of the Toyota iQ on UK roads.
What’s it like?
Not bad at all. The ride is fine for starters. The Toyota iQ 2 is restless on some surfaces and a tad jumpy across speed ramps, but that’s inevitable with a car this short. I’d also anticipated some high-speed wobbles, but the iQ 2 is more stable than I’d expected.
If (curiously) you didn’t know the iQ 2 ended within touching distance behind you, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the driving refinement alone.
The Toyota iQ 2 is also decent for covering longish distances. The driving environment is spacious, the cabin wide and noise levels unintrusive.
The iQ is curiously long-geared, though, perhaps to help it hit CO2 emissions of 99g/km. Second gear is good for the best part of 70mph. On roundabout approaches where you’d leave most city cars or superminis in second, you sometimes find yourself dropping the iQ down to first.
You’d expect the Toyota iQ’s gearing to mean that the 67bhp, 845kg car feels depressingly slow. It’s not that bad. The thrummy three-pot engine revs willingly, and, even though the car’s optimum gear indicator advised me to change down to fourth under mild acceleration at 70mph, fifth is geared conventionally enough. You don’t feel the need to change down too much on the motorway.
The view forward from the driver’s seat of the Toyota iQ isn’t shabby, either. Trim and materials are acceptable, while the design of the dash and heating controls is neat. Less so are the fiddly switches around the (optional) navigation screen. We’d opt for an aftermarket system at a fifth of the price, but there’s nothing new in that.
The view behind depends on what you’re carrying. Always, though, the iQ is easy to park. It’s like a Smart ForTwo in that respect, but the iQ’s big advantage (superior driving characteristics aside) is that you get choice: a bit of luggage or people space, rather than just an even smaller section of luggage space.
Should I buy one?
The answer to that depends upon which cars you see as the Toyota IQ 2’s rivals. If you see the iQ as a ‘premium’ city car, a direct alternative to a Smart, then the more practical, better-driving Toyota would be a sound choice.
But as a practical, four-seat city car, the iQ seems expensive and cramped. On that count a Hyundai i10 is a better (and much cheaper) alternative.
Nonetheless, the iQ is an easy car to live with – and easy to like.