Week at the wheel: Toyota iQ

14 Jun 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Week at the wheel: Toyota iQ

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Week at the Wheel | Toyota iQ |

Inside Out:

The iQ is not the bonny baby of the Toyota range, but there is a certain something to its looks that appeals. The stubby overall length coupled to the wide stance make it seem like a Smart Fortwo that has been over-inflated, but zipping through town traffic the iQ’s size makes plenty of sense. The exterior dimensions translate into plenty of elbow room for the driver and front passenger and there’s an MPV-like driving position thanks to the high-set seat, broad windscreen and commanding forward view.

When the driver looks over his or her left shoulder when changing lanes, the view is much more restricted by the thick rear pillars. Not even the tiny tot rear windows help much here. It’s also very cramped in the rear, where only two children could realistically fit for even short journeys. As for boot space, it’s best to order your shopping online.

At 32-litres with the rear seats in the raised position, the iQ’s boot is the smallest we’ve ever encountered. Even with the 50/50 split rear seats folded there are only 242-litres of cargo space.

Engine Transmission:

Small car, small engine is the guiding principle with the iQ. It’s a philosophy that work as the three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine has just enough puff for the iQ to feel nifty in town and on a par with most traffic on faster paced roads. The 0-62mph time of 14.7 seconds is at the sluggish end of the acceptable spectrum, yet the iQ feels nippier than this and, during our week with the car, covered plenty of motorway miles without ever feeling out of its depth.

The chatty three-cylinder engine revs with glee and never sounds more than chirpy – no gruffness here. The five-speed manual fitted to our test car had a typically Toyota shift action: it does the job with minimum fuss but without any of the precision or fluidity of a Ford Fiesta’s for instance.

Ride Handling:

With its bonsai wheelbase, we expected the iQ to suffer from some bounciness in the ride department. However, Toyota has bypassed this department and headed straight for the aisle marked ‘supple and secure.’ Around town, the iQ is in its element, dismissing urban ruts with urbane cool, while the wonderfully tight turning circle has you running rings round black cabs. The steering is also lightly – but just rightly – assisted, while all of the other controls work with well judged weighting to make the iQ driving experience much classier than the price or sum of its parts would suggest.

On the open road, the iQ continues to hold its own. A slight firmness to the ride becomes apparent – no doubt to keep the car stable in crosswinds, which it is. There’s also a bit more roll in corners than you’d find in a Ford Ka or Fiat 500. but the iQ is still remarkably good fun to press on through country roads in.

Longer journeys are also to be relished as the iQ has the sort of refinement we’d normally associate with an executive saloon, not a city car.

Equipment, Economy Value for Money:

Some of the interior plastics are not so fantastic in the iQ, but Toyota has made much more of an effort to give the cabin some showroom appeal. Every iQ comes with air conditioning, electric windows, central locking, CD stereo, ESP stability control and a raft of airbags. The airbag tally also includes one that inflates to cover the rear screen in the event of a rear end accident, which helps allay fears about the rear seats being so close to the back end of the car.

With a starting price of less than Ј10,000 for the car we tested, the iQ stacks up well next to rivals, though most of the competition offer much more rear seat and luggage accommodation.

Running costs for the Toyota iQ are low though, with the five-speed manual gearbox-equipped models all road tax-free thanks to emissions of 99/g/km. This makes the iQ also one of the cleanest cars money can buy, while 65.7mpg combined economy is up with the best. It also means a practical range of more than 400 miles on a single fill of the 32-litre fuel tank. Throw in low cost group 2 insurance and the iQ makes a lot of financial sense

Overall:

The Toyota iQ has taken our auto intelligence test and come out with flying colours. There are a couple of subjects where it could do better – passenger and boot space for example – but we can forgive these minor faults for the way the iQ drives, its comfort and low running costs. There are touches of genius in the way the iQ has been designed, so it earns a highly respectable 2:1 degree from the University of Car Enthusiast .

Alisdair Suttie – 19 Aug 2009

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