Toyota iQ Review

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Toyota iQ Tested January 2009


Rating

4 stars

Quick Summary

Recommended. One of the most cleverly packaged cars ever, the iQ combines the practicality of a decent modern supermini with a bodyshell shorter than that of a tiny city car. Think of it as a three-and-a-half seat version of the Smart ForTwo and you've pretty much got it.

Road Test

It's no exaggeration to say that the iQ is one of the most radical cars that Toyota has ever produced. Despite its diminuitive dimensions and cutesy styling, we're meant to see it as being upmarket urban transport rather than a cheap city car - this is one vehicle that commands a premium for downsizing.

The iQ's cleverest innovation is what's described as 'three-plus-one' seating. Fitting the engine very far forwards has enabled Toyota to create an impressively spacious cabin, with plenty of room for a driver and front seat passenger. The front passenger seat is positioned forwards, enabling a full-sized rear seat behind it, while on the other side at the back is a smaller seat designed for smaller occupants or occasional use.

As a whole it works impressively well, with three adults able to ride together in the iQ in reasonable comfort. The cabin is also very well finished for a car of this size, with quality materials, decent equipment levels and good ergonomic design.

The iQ drives very nicely, too - providing your expectations are not of rocketship performance. The 1.0-litre petrol engine doesn't give much in the way of out-of-town acceleration, but it's got enough low-down pulling power to make driving through busy streets a breeze. There's also a 1.33-litre VVT-i available, but its slight power advantage is mitigated by higher emissions and fuel consumption. Both versions are comfortable, though - driving like you would expect a far larger car to. It feels like a real quality item.

Only when it comes to money does the iQ's case waver, being considerably more expensive than any of its similarly sized rivals. That said, if you consider it as a cool, cut-price alternative to the Mini it starts to make a far stronger case for itself.

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