Driven: Toyota iQ

  • VED road tax-free engine
  • Quirky design, good performance
  • On sale from £9295 in January
Price from £9295
On sale January
You’ll like Quirky design; performance
You won’t No room for four, cheap interior
What Car? says Clever and quirky – but interior is a let down

Even Toyota admits its cars are bought for logical rather than emotional reasons, but it reckons the iQ is going to change all that.

Fitting four seats in a car that is under three metres long has posed numerous technical challenges, but the solutions have resulted in something a bit different.

It drives surprisingly well. The 67bhp 1.0-litre engine is punchy enough for the city, and keeps up on the motorway.

It’s clean, too, averaging 67.3mpg and emitting 99g/km of CO2 with the manual gearbox, making ownership VED road tax free. Insurance costs are also low, so running costs are attractive.

There are downsides to the small engine, though: at times it needs to be revved hard, and noise intrudes into the cabin. That’s also joined by wind and road noise at higher speeds.

However, the iQ copes with bumpy roads admirably, and the direct steering and tiny turning circle add to its appeal.

So, too, do the safety provisions, including numerous electronic aids and nine airbags.

Inside
Inside, clever design allows for a cut-sized dashboard that means the front passenger can sit farther forward, giving a rear seat passenger more room. Toyota says two people of 190cm in height can easily sit behind each other.

However, when it comes to fitting a passenger behind the driver, the iQ’s designers seem to have run out of clever ideas.

Unless the driver is tiny, it’s nigh-on impossible. In reality, the iQ is a three-seater – and one with next to no useable luggage space at that.

Other problems
There are also problems with the interior plastics, which in many places are rock-hard and tacky, and the driver’s seat and steering wheel adjustment, which are limited.

In a budget car you’d accept that, but the iQ is far from cheap, with prices starting from a whopping £9495.

Sure, it’s loaded with kit that pushes the price up, but all the gadgets in the world can’t hide the poor interior.

As a result, the iQ is flawed.

In many areas it’s clever, quirky and appealing – but the shortcomings suggest that Toyota is hoping buyers will be swayed by their emotions because they are unlikely to buy with their heads.

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