Toyota iQ city car
Toyota iQ city car
Price £11,100 - £14,100
- Looks very smart
- Easy to park
- Cheap to run
- Expensive for its size
- Interior space is limited
- Bouncy ride
At a glance
"The Toyota iQ city car is a great example of clever design. With its tiny dimensions and four-seat practicality, it's a classy and versatile choice."
The Toyota IQ was launched in 2008 and caused quite a stir at the time thanks to its ability to offer (just about) enough space for four people, in a car that was only marginally bigger than a Smart ForTwo. The Toyota was designed with the city in mind and its mini dimensions make it ideal for negotiating through heavy city traffic.
As you would expect, the IQ comes with a choice of two extremely economical petrol engines – a 1.0-litre and a 1.3-litre, which are fine in town. The smaller engine will feel slow on the motorway, though.
Toyota markets the IQ as a premium small hatchback, so it's quite expensive, but even the basic IQ1 comes with air-conditioning and alloy wheels, further up the range is the IQ2 and IQ3. Aston Martin even based its small city car – the Aston Martin Cygent – on the IQ, which gives you an idea how well thought of IQs are.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Running costs are very low, making the iQ affordable in the long-term
All Toyota IQ models are cheap to run, but the 1.0 litre petrol is cheapest of all. It produces just 99g/km of CO2 emissions, so is exempt from paying road tax, while fuel economy of 64.2mpg means petrol isn’t going to cost too much either. Opting for the 1.3-litre engine gives a useful step up in performance, but road tax will cost just £30 per year and fuel economy of 54.3mpg is strong, too. The 1.3-litre IQ can also be had with an automatic gearbox, which has no impact on economy or emissions.
Maintenance costs should be cheap as well and Toyota offers fixed-price servicing on the IQ, which starts at just £125. All Toyotas get a five-year warranty.
Interior & comfort
Bouncy ride and fiddly controls are frustrating for driver and passengers
Bouncy suspension means that the Toyota IQ could get tiresome on long journeys, but it does have an interior that is well insulated from road and wind noise.
An asymmetric interior (the front passenger sits slightly ahead of the driver) means that there is really only space for three adults – with room for a very small child behind the driver. Getting comfortable behind the wheel might also be tricky, as the car's steering wheel only adjusts for rake and the seat can’t be moved for height.
Practicality & boot space
Cleverly packaged interior means there's room for four at a squeeze
The Toyota IQ's dashboard is pushed right up against the windscreen on the passenger side, so that the seat can be placed slightly ahead of the driver – giving more space for an adult behind the passenger. Getting an adult behind the driver is nearly impossible, so it's better to treat the Toyota as a three-seater.
Boot space is limited and there's only enough room for a few shopping bags. Folding down the backseats means you get 242 litres of luggage capacity, but this is still less than you’ll get in a Skoda Citigo with the rear seats up.
Reliability & safety
Cabin plastics feel a bit cheap, but five-star safety rating is impressive
Perhaps surprisingly (given the car's size) the Toyota IQ got the full five stars when it was crash tested for safety by Euro NCAP. All models get a total of nine airbags – including the first rear-screen airbag fitted to car – and electronic stability control.
In our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, the IQ wasn’t rated, but in 2013 it dropped 42 places to finish 65th out of 150 cars. There's no denying the Toyota IQ's an expensive car for its size and some interior plastics could feel higher quality.
Engines, drive & performance
Lightweight body and responsive controls make the iQ fun to drive
Driving the IQ in town is a breeze, because it has a raised driving position with excellent visibility, and dimensions that are easy to judge when parking. The car's excellent turning circle allows you to pull a U-turn just about anywhere, and the controls are light and easy to use.
Get up to speed though, and the IQ quickly feels out of its comfort zone. The lightness in the steering, which makes it excellent in town, doesn’t give confidence in the corners, and performance is lacking, too. The 1.0-litre petrol engine that appeals because of its very low running costs, takes a leisurely 14 seconds to get from 0-60mph. It sounds more willing than the larger engine, though, although ultimately the 1.3-litre makes for much quicker overtaking.
Out on the motorway, you may also find the IQ gets blown about a bit by crosswinds and passing lorries. We would also avoid the noisy CVT gearbox – the manual is much better.
Price, value for money & options
List prices are high for a car of this size, but all models come well equipped
Costing almost £2,000 more than a Smart Fortwo, the Toyota IQ is not cheap for a small car, but it is well equipped. Standard features include air-conditioning, alloy wheels, a CD player with MP3 connectivity, and electric windows. The mid-range IQ2 model gets automatic headlights and wipers, keyless entry and go, and climate control.
The Toyota IQ3 model, meanwhile, gets almost the same spec, but combined with the more powerful 1.3-litre engine. It also comes fitted with larger 16-inch alloy wheels, a six-speed gearbox and stop-start technology, which stops the engine when the car's at a standstill to save fuel.
What the others say
The CVT transmission is ideal for urban motoring, changing swiftly and smoothly when you need it to. City driving is eased further by excellent power steering, and there are even optional parking sensors. Although the engine is only 998cc and 0-62mph takes a leisurely 15.5 seconds, the car is capable of 93mph and is surprisingly comfortable on long journeys.
But despite being less than three metres long, it’s brimming with space-saving tricks and the cabin is deceptively roomy – particularly for front passengers. This is a real alternative to the Fiat 500 and Ford Ka, matching both for quirky looks and compactness, and offers Smart Fortwo buyers something more versatile to consider.
Utter brilliance from Toyota - absolutely the car the Smart ForFour should have been. This could be boring Toyota's iPod moment.
You have to choose between rear passengers or boot space and it’s not cheap for its size. The interior plastics are rather dour and it struggles a bit on faster roads.