Toyota iQ: 5,304 Miles

Third report: Tiny runabout is a hit in the city – but it is also proving a bit of an all-rounder

  • Despite its compact exterior dimensions, the iQ’s cabin is surprisingly roomy. Occupants up front get plenty of space, while the three-plus- one seating layout is more useful than you’d expect. But it’s the clever packaging that really shines through. One really neat and simple touch is the back seat base that’s sculpted to store the rear headrests when the bench is folded flat.
  • Given its small powerplant, the Toyota’s fuel returns of 45.0mpg are a little disappointing – and a long way short of the claimed 65.7mpg. On the other hand, the iQ’s impressively low CO2 emissions of 99g/km mean you don’t have to pay a penny for your tax disc.

Whizzing around town is what our long-term Toyota iQ does best. With its dinky dimensions, tight turning circle and eager engine, the Japanese city car is almost without equal in the urban jungle.

But don’t for one second think the iQ is a one-trick pony. When it’s not being squeezed along congested London streets on my daily commute, the Toyota is proving to be a surprisingly versatile all-rounder. It’s fast gaining a reputation as something of a Swiss army knife on wheels.

Firstly, there’s the car’s impressive cruising ability. Long motorway journeys are never a chore thanks to great refinement and a composed ride. And while the 999cc three-cylinder engine lacks outright pace, you soon learn to treat this as a challenge, using forward planning and momentum to keep up with the flow of traffic and execute perfectly timed overtakes.

The most surprising aspect of iQ ownership is its ability to swallow large amounts of luggage. When motoring writer Conor Mills competed in a recent triathlon at Blenheim, Oxon, he managed to squeeze all his gear – including a racing bicycle – into the back of the car, by folding the rear seats flat!

The Toyota then faced its sternest test when staff photographer Pete Gibson used the tiny machine to carry his kit to a shoot. To his amazement, he managed to get all his gear packed in. As our pictures show, it was a bit of squeeze, but there was room for his tripods, portable pressure washer and bulky flight cases. The only downside is that your belongings will be left on display when you leave the car parked up.

The Toyota does come with a fabric load cover, but it’s very fiddly to fit and requires you to fasten six separate press studs around the back of the cabin.

However, this is a relatively minor gripe given the Toyota’s long list of abilities and popularity with all the Auto Express staff. In fact, with the car in such demand, keeping its white paintwork clean has been a bit of a challenge. Assistant consumer editor Graeme Lambert had a plan to make sure our Toyota always looked tip-top, courtesy of a hi-tech new product from car cleaning expert Pitstop Automotive. Graeme gave it a full wash and wax, before the bodywork, wheels and glass were treated with Nanolex protection. In theory, this innovation reduces the amount of dirt that sticks to the exterior and should mean regular washing requires little more than water and a damp cloth. Early indications are promising, with less brake dust clinging to the wheels.

Clean or dirty, the iQ still attracts attention, even after being on sale for sixth months. While we were taking these pictures plenty of people stopped to ask what it was, how much it cost and how many people could fit inside.

The more time I spend in the  iQ, the more I appreciate its talents. No matter where you take it – town, country or motorway –or what you squeeze in, the Toyota always manages to raise a smile.

Extra Info

James is right. Take one look at the iQ and you would expect it to be ill-suited to long road trips, but nothing could be further from the truth. Its sweet engine and long gearing make the Toyota an accomplished motorway companion, in spite of its tiny dimensions.It’s best to regard it as a three-seater, though, because the fourth seat behind the driver is simply too cramped.

In town, its incredible turning circle comes into its own. My only reservation is about its price, because the city car doesn’t come cheap. Nearly £9,500 seems a lot to pay to when there are more spacious rivals that cost less.

Ross Pinnock

Raod Test Editor

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