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 isn’t the same bargain it used to be. The Toyota Aygo is bigger, while the Dacia Sandero is nearly half the price. However, the iQ is still fairly unique in the UK market – at three metres in length, it's only a little bit longer than a smart car, so it's ideal for nipping around town.
One of the car's biggest selling points is its ability to accommodate four people despite its small size – this is partly because the front passenger seat is positioned slightly forward of the driver, so it's possible to fit at least two adults, a teenager and a child in the car. Given its size, it's amazing anyone other than the driver can get in. If you use the iQ as your sole car, you’ll need to plan your travel itinerary with care so you make the right choice between passenger space and boot luggage space.
It will take a brave driver to take it on the motorway, where you’ll be dwarfed by almost everything else on the road, but few cars beat it in the city environment it's designed for.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Running costs are very low, making the iQ affordable in the long-term
The entry-level 1.0-litre petrol engine returns 64.2mpg in combined fuel economy, while emitting 99g/km of CO2, making it exempt from annual road tax.
Go up one size to the 1.33-litre and the CO2 emissions rise to 113g/km and economy drops to 57.6mpg but the car is still cheap to run.
The iQ isn’t the cheapest to buy, but you could well save money in the long run, especially as the iQ has strong resale value on the used car market. As a result, you should be able to get some good second-hand deals when the time comes to sell. Insurance premiums are also low across the whole range, too.
Interior & comfort
Bouncy ride and fiddly controls are frustrating for driver and passengers
The interior of the iQ has been cleverly designed so that it's deceptively spacious inside for such a small car. There's loads of elbow and shoulder room in the front, while headroom is good throughout. Legroom is virtually nil behind the driver, so in reality the fourth seat is limited to small children.
The steering wheel doesn’t have any reach adjustment, nor the seat any height adjustment – and even if it did, you’d only bump your head on the roof. Fortunately, the driving position is good, with the windscreen offering great visibility. The dashboard is a bit cluttered with fiddly controls, with the steering wheel stereo controls proving particularly frustrating. The ride is a bit bumpy for passengers too.
Practicality & boot space
Cleverly packaged interior means there's room for four at a squeeze
The way the iQ has been engineered to fit four passengers inside is very clever, but the day-to-day reality is that four adults really can’t sit comfortably. Moving the dashboard nearer the windscreen on the passenger's side does indeed mean an adult can fit behind a grown-up front passenger, but that simply can’t be done on the driver's side, with only enough genuine space for a small child behind the driver. And all that extra room in the front comes at the expense of boot space, which barely has enough space to carry a small trip's worth of shopping or a laptop bag. Fold down the back seats and the capacity expands to 242 litres, but that's only bigger than the Smart Fortwo's seats-up boot capacity.
Reliability & safety
Cabin plastics feel cheap, but five-star safety rating is impressive
The iQ is fairly safe for such a small package, securing the full five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests thanks to a generous nine airbags, including the first rear windscreen airbag.
In terms of reliability, Toyota placed ninth in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, cementing Toyota's already formidable reputation for making highly reliable cars. The iQ itself, however, dropped a substantial 42 places from its position in the 2012 survey, ranking 65th in the list of the top 100 cars for 2013. It came second for running costs, though, and scored high for reliability and build quality, so regardless of the survey result it should prove to be pretty reliable. A lot of the plastics used inside the car could be of a better quality, however, especially given the iQ's expensive list price. The iQ comes with Toyota's five-year warranty.
Engines, drive & performance
Lightweight body and responsive controls make the iQ fun to drive
The iQ has such a small turning circle that you can perform a u-turn practically anywhere. Its steering is responsive and light, while both the 67bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine and the 98bhp 1.33-litre four-cylinder petrol engines prove to be surprisingly effective. The smaller of the two actually proves to be the better choice – it shares it with the Aygo – with better fuel economy and a more pleasant sound. It accelerates from 0-60mph in a slow 14 seconds, but the iQ is small enough to make that actually feel quite fast! We’d give the noisy CVT automatic gearbox a wide berth, and go for the standard-fit five-speed manual, which gives greater control to truly showcase its turn of speed around town. If you have to take the iQ on the motorway, be wary of crosswinds and buffeting from passing lorries, which tend to blow the iQ around.
Price, value for money & options
List prices are high for a car of this size, but all models come well equipped
The entry-level iQ costs about £1,700 more than a basic Smart Fortwo. For that money you get alloy wheels, air-conditioning and a six-speaker stereo with MP3 player connectivity all fitted as standard. Opt for the higher-spec iQ2 and you also get front fog lamps, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, climate control and keyless entry too. The 1.33-litre model gets its own iQ3 model, which adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a six-speed gearbox, chromed door mirrors and stop-start technology to further improve economy and emissions. Plus, there's also a range of personalisation options to allow the iQ to keep with the Fiat 500, MINI and Vauxhall Adam.
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.