The iQ is effortless to drive in the city, thanks to light controls and an incredibly tight turning circle, but the ride is choppy. It struggles on faster roads, too. There’s a fair bit of body lean in bends and it quickly runs out of front-end grip, while vague steering and a vulnerability to side winds make long journeys hard work.
The three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine has a distinctive thrum, and the door mirrors generate some wind noise at speed, but in most other respects the iQ is impressively hushed. Toyota has tried to make the optional CVT gearbox feel more like a conventional auto, but it still thrashes too much when you put your foot down.
The single stereo control on the steering wheel is unecessarily fiddly, but it means the centre console is simple and it frees up extra space for the driver. However, comfort would be improved if the seat was height adjustable and the wheel moved for reach as well as rake. Rear visibility isn’t great, either. The heater is controlled via chunky buttons and dials.
The iQ is just a handspan longer than a Smart Fortwo, yet it can seat four people. Well, sort of. The dashboard is pulled towards the base of the windscreen on the passenger’s side, which allows the front passenger to sit farther forward and leaves enough space for an adult to fit behind. However, even the smallest children will struggle to squeeze behind an average-sized driver. Boot space is virtually non-existent with all the seats in place.
The entry-level model – the iQ 1.0 – gets alloy wheels, air-conditioning and a six-speaker stereo with an MP3 player input. Upgrading to iQ2 spec (still with the 1.0 engine) adds front foglamps, automatic lights and wipers, climate control and keyless entry, while the 1.33-litre model (whch has its own unique iQ3 trim) gets 16-inch alloys, a six-speed gearbox, chromed door mirrors and a fuel-saving stop-start system.
There’s no getting away from it, the iQ is extremely pricey for a city car. It’s well-equipped, though, and it’ll hold its value well. Running costs are low, too: the 1.0-litre manual model averages around 66mpg and emits less than 100g/km of carbon dioxide, so road tax costs nothing. The manual 1.33-litre model does a creditable 59mpg and emits 113g/km (10% BIK tax).
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