Our cars: Toyota iQ
Thumbing through a list of the latest superminis is like scanning a Mensa roll-call. However, even in this class of over-achievers, Toyota's iQ is a little special.
The iQ is just a handspan longer than a Smart ForTwo, so you can squeeze it into the tightest parking spaces. Yet Toyota has managed to free up enough room for three adults (or four if the driver is very short) by rearranging mechanicals and hollowing out the dashboard on the passenger's side.
Hot in the city?
It's a car that seems ideal for city-dwellers who have no off-street parking, but still need some practicality. In other words, people like me.
I collected my iQ from Currie Motors Twickenham (020 8892 0041), where centre principal Paul Sheeran talked me through the long list of standard features…
Every model gets:
•Front electric windows
I upgraded to 2 trim, which adds climate control, auto lights and wipers and much classier switchgear.
There were still a couple of items on the options list that I had to have, though. White Pearl paint really suits the car, so it's worth the extra £370. Sat-nav seems like an extravagance at £930, but you can't save any radio presets unless you specify this.
As a result, the final price (nearly £12,000) was higher than I would have liked, but the iQ's charms helped reduce any resentment. It's one of the most stylish small cars around, looking like a Stormtrooper's helmet on the outside and like the cockpit of Darth Vader's TIE fighter in the cabin.
On the road
It's also surprisingly good to drive. Light steering and a turning circle that puts a black cab to shame are big advantages in town. What's more, it's refined at speed and the ride is much better than the rival Smart's.
Downsides? Well, the 67bhp engine struggles when you've got passengers on board, and so far it's only averaging around 41mpg (well below the official average figure of 67.3mpg).
Still, a lot of my driving is done in stop-start traffic, which dents fuel economy, and other running costs are tiny. The iQ emits just 99g/km of CO2, so I won't pay road tax, and it attracts a lowly group 2 insurance rating.
I reckon I've made a clever choice with the Toyota iQ, then.