Toyota iQ hatchback (2009-2014)
"The Toyota iQ uses clever design to fit four seats into a small package, making it a versatile city car."
- Looks very smart
- Easy to park
- Cheap to run
- Expensive for its size
- Interior space is limited
- Bouncy ride
The Toyota iQ is designed to rule the city streets, squeezing four seats into a car not much longer than the two-seat Smart ForTwo. It’s easy to park and has a sharp turning circle, so it can negotiate the tightest roads with ease.
There’s a choice of two small petrol engines – a 1.0-litre and a 1.3-litre - offering plenty of performance for town driving, but they can start to feel strained on the motorway. The same goes for the ride and handling; it’s perfectly fine in the city, but pick up speed and the iQ starts to feel out of its depth.
Models like the Skoda Citigo, Hyundai i10 and even the iQ’s bigger brother, the Toyota Aygo, all feel like better all-rounders, with more space and the comfort to take on longer journeys every now and again. The fact they are also cheaper than the upmarket iQ also makes it an increasingly niche choice.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The most popular engine is the 1.0-litre with a manual gearbox, partly thanks to its 64.2mpg economy and emissions of 99g/km of CO2, which make it exempt from road tax. You can also add a MultiDrive automatic gearbox, but we wouldn’t recommend it, as economy drops to 58.9mpg and emissions climb to 110g/km, with a £20 annual tax bill.
A 1.33-litre engine is also available in the Toyota iQ but it’s not particularly economical for a city car, returning 54.3mpg and emitting between 119g/km and 120g/km, costing £30 annually. A Fiat 500 TwinAir is faster and can return up to 70.6mpg with 92g/km of CO2 emissions.
Our pick would be the 1.0-litre manual, with enough performance around town where the iQ is designed to perform best. It’s only worth choosing the 1.33-litre if you are driving longer distances or on the motorway but if that’s the case, you should really consider a Toyota Aygo, Skoda Citigo or Hyundai i10.
Engines, drive & performance
While the 67bhp 1.0-litre engine’s 0-62mph acceleration time of 14.7 seconds sounds very sluggish, it actually feels peppy and eager at town speeds where it’s designed to be at its best. The iQ begins to struggle above 50mph, where its lack of power becomes obvious and it feels strained, making motorway driving tiring. The entry-level Skoda Citigo might have slightly less power, but its better refinement and longer gearing makes it calmer out on the open road.
The iQ is also available with a 97bhp 1.33-litre engine, making it powerful for a city car. It never feels as quick as the numbers suggest though, and while it’s better suited to motorway driving than the 1.0-litre, the iQ’s bouncy suspension and small size means it still feels far more at home on city streets. Both versions are available with a Multidrive CVT automatic gearbox, but we’d avoid it because it blunts performance.
In town the Toyota iQ’s light steering, excellent visibility and sharp turning circle allows it to perform U-turns like a London Black Cab, while its short length means it can fit in parking spaces most other cars have to pass up on. But, this is a limited repertoire, and the Skoda Citigo, Hyundai i10 and the manufacturer’s own Toyota Aygo are better all-rounders if you want to head out of town.
Interior & comfort
Despite the iQ’s tiny size, front passengers have plenty of space, with ample shoulder and headroom. It can be tricky for some driver’s to get comfortable, though, because the steering wheel only adjusts for reach - height adjustment for the seat does help. The Toyota iQ has quite an upmarket cabin, with attractive dials and a stylish V-shaped dashboard finished in funky colours.There’s minimal clutter too, with buttons for the stereo relocated to the steering wheel. However, look carefully around the cabin and you will find some cheap and scratchy plastics.
Comfort for rear passengers is less impressive, but the fact the iQ can carry three adults and a child is testament to its clever design. After all, the iQ is only slightly longer than the two-seater Smart ForTwo.
While the iQ feels ok in town, its suspension becomes quite bouncy at higher speeds, so can prove tiresome on longer journeys. Its small engines are also quite vocal, but road and wind noise are reasonably well insulated. The Skoda Citigo and Hyundai i10 are both offer better refinement at motorway speeds.
Practicality & boot space
The Toyota iQ features a clever design, allowing four seats to be squeezed into a car less than three metres long. The iQ is a car of two halves, with a scalloped passenger side dashboard allowing the front seat to sit further forward, with room for an adult straight behind. The driver sits further back in the car, so there’s only space for a child in the rear seat, with very little legroom.
Unfortunately, with almost every space designed to maximise interior space, there are precious few places to put your wallet, phone and drinks. There’s a small detachable glovebox, tiny door bins and a cup holder behind the gearlever.
Open the boot and you’ll see the rear seats almost reach back to the tailgate, so there’s only a tiny 32-litre boot, barely able to accommodate a medium-sized rucksack. This is one of the smallest luggage areas of any car; the Citigo can seat four adults and has 251 litres behind its rear seats, while the Fiat 500 has 185 litres of luggage room and a Smart ForTwo gets 220 litres. Most iQ owners will treat their car as a three-seater, always leaving the seat behind the driver’s one folded flat. With both of the 50:50 splitting rear seats pushed forwards the iQ’s boot has 238 litres of luggage room.
The iQ’s small size also means there’s no room for a spare wheel, so it comes supplied with a tyre repair kit designed to get you to a garage if you have a puncture.
Reliability & safety
Incredibly, Toyota has squeezed nine airbags into the iQ, including the world’s first airbag designed to cover the rear window, protecting rear seat passengers. It’s reassuring for so much standard safety equipment to be fitted in car of this size and it clearly works because Euro NCAP awarded the iQ the full five stars for safety.
Toyota has fallen from grace with customers, plummeting from ninth in 2013, to 17th out of 33 manufacturers in the 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. It’s the Japanese manufacturers first time outside the top ten for years, but sixth place overall for reliability is reassuring. Most customer concerns related to poor performance, road handling and disappointing in-car technology.
Price, value for money & options
The Toyota iQ is priced to compete with upmarket city cars including the Fiat 500 and Smart ForTwo, but in reality, features like its distinctive dashboard and leather steering wheel don’t do enough to convince us it should cost significantly more than the larger Aygo, Citigo or i10. Its comprehensive specification does go some way to making up for it, with 15-inch alloy wheels, air-con, six-speaker CD player and trip computer all fitted as standard. The iQ2 trim level adds climate control, heated door mirrors, front fog lights, auto wipers and keyless entry.
The iQ3 trim is limited to the 1.33-litre engine and includes 16-inch wheels, a six-speed gearbox and stop-start technology to save fuel in traffic. Themed option packs are available, with iUrban adding rear parking sensors, a reversible carpet/rubber boot mat, and floor mats, while iStyle adds metallic pieces of trim to the design to add to the iQ’s upmarket image. Leather seats and even bodywork decals can also be fitted to personalise your Toyota.
Come re-sale time, the Toyota iQ isn’t expected to hold its value quite as well as the Fiat 500, Smart ForTwo or even the cheaper Aygo. The most basic version of the iQ holds its value best, while those fitted with an automatic gearbox are generally less popular.