Toyota iQ iQ2
Short front overhang highlights the iQ's compactness
- Cheeky looks are appealing
- Superb space efficiency throughout
- Comfortable and easy to drive
- Attractive cabin, well specified
- Not a car for all people at this price
- More cabin colour choices would be welcome
- Boot space is negligible with four people on board
- No diesel option for UK
Toyota already has a strong reputation as a builder of excellent small cars, with the impressive Aygo and spacious Yaris in its range. However, it now has a third string to its bow with the introduction of the iQ, which it claims offers unique advantages in the small car segment due to its size and packaging.
In many respects the Toyota iQ follows the conventional layout for a small car. It has a small petrol engine mounted transversely in the front of the car, driving the front wheels through a manual or automatic gearbox. However, the difference in the iQ is in the details. At 2,985mm in length, it is currently the only car available less than three metres long that can accommodate four people in comfort.
The iQ achieves this through some remarkable packaging ideas, all of which contribute to maximising the interior space. Mechanically, alterations to the differential, steering mechanism and air conditioning unit allow the compact engine to be moved further forward, while the asymmetric dashboard means the front passenger seat can be moved much further forward, increasing rear passenger space.
The result of this space-saving initiative is that the iQ can fit four adults inside, although the seat behind the driver has the most restricted legroom. In four-seat configuration the boot space is understandably miniscule, but with three or two occupants there is a much more usable amount of storage space. Another huge benefit of the iQ's size is manoeuvrability: its turning radius of 3.9 metres is extremely compact.
Rather than a budget city car, the iQ is designed to be a second or third family car, and rather than being a stripped-out, low budget machine, it has many features expected of cars from a higher price bracket. All models have air-conditioning, remote central-locking and ESP as standard, while the higher grade iQ2 model adds items like climate control, keyless entry and start and automatic headlights and wipers.
Our verdict on the Toyota iQ iQ2
The Toyota iQ is a genuinely new kind of car, offering spectacular space efficiency and usability but with a distinct premium feel and strong equipment and luxury. In terms of pure pricing it is more expensive than some rivals, but in terms of what it offers and is capable of, it actually offers good value for money.
Although the initial purchase price may seem high, running costs are likely to be spectacularly low. Insurance costs will be very low indeed, while the 1.0-litre manual model is exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty thanks to its sub-100g/km emissions rating.
Space and practicality
The iQ does a remarkable job of offering lots of space in a compact silhouette. Those in the front seats are very well catered for, with excellent head and legroom - even elbowroom is better in iQ than in the bigger Yaris. In the back, taller adults may struggle a little for space, but most people will find sufficient room for long journeys.
Controls and display
The layout of the iQ is very impressive, as it shows some novel thinking in the pursuit of increased space. The instruments are attractive and easy to read, while the clever rotary air-con control combines the functions of several buttons and switches. The optional sat-nav system is also clear and easy to use.
Comfort levels in the iQ are surprisingly good. Refinement is excellent, with impressively low noise levels. The ride quality is also surprisingly good considering the car's length and only the worst bumps get through to the cabin.
All models have locking nuts on their standard alloy wheels, remote central locking and an engine immobiliser as standard, which should offer sufficient security for a car of this nature.
The iQ packs a remarkable nine airbags into its shell, including a world first rear curtain airbag, to protect passengers in the rear seat who are close to the car's extremities. The high safety specification including ESP on all models is a welcome sight.
Anyone expecting the iQ to drive like a low-budget small car will be in for a surprise. From the driver's seat it feels like a much bigger car, with a good view out, an excellent driving position and smooth controls. Despite its modest output the 1.0-litre engine is keen and smooth and makes the iQ an enjoyable car to drive.
Family car appeal
The iQ does have the ability to perform family duties, as long as the combination of four people and luggage is not a common one. Child seats can be installed in the rear, and children are bound to find the iQ more exciting to be in than a conventional family hatchback.
First car appeal
The iQ is possibly a little expensive for many first time buyers, but in respect of its dimensions and ease of driving it makes for a perfect first car.
Quality and image
The iQ offers the kind of quality expected of a car in a bigger class: although it is close to Aygo in terms of size the cabin is closer to Auris or Avensis than anything else. The iQ's image is dominated by its unique design. This gives it strong appeal for the fashion-conscious and puts it outside of Toyota's normal appeal.
The iQ may be small, but the large doors make it easy to get into the front seats. As for the rear, the fact that the passenger seats slides forward a long way makes access relatively easy, although passengers getting in from the other side have more of a squeeze.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
The optional upgrade system on the iQ2 includes a connection for MP3 players and delivers very good sound quality, helped by the good refinement. The single joystick control mounted on the steering wheel is very simple and easy to use.
Colours and trim
The iQ's bold exterior shape benefits from stronger colours, looking especially attractive in white. Inside the iQ has a mix of greys and browns, which is attractive and unusual although its clever design would benefit from brighter hues. The quality of the trim itself is very good.
The iQ is at its best when it comes to parking thanks to the excellent visibility, tiny dimensions and large amounts of steering lock. Optional rear parking sensors make it easier still.
A tyre repair kit is fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - 1.0-litre (67bhp); 1.33-litre (100bhp). Transmission options: Five-speed manual gearbox, CVT automatic gearbox. Trim levels: iQ, iQ2
Smart ForTwo Even more compact, but two seats and more compromised
Volkswagen Fox Full four-seater, uninspiring to drive and look at
Ford Ka Modern and attractive but conventional supermini
Fiat Panda Space efficient and good value, significantly larger however