Toyota iQ: 8,186 miles
Fourth Report: A summer break for our city car saw it stretch itself on country A-roads
Our city slicker has beaten a retreat to the country! While Toyota’s tiny tearaway has shown it’s more than capable of coping with the occasional trip outside of its familiar urban surroundings, how would the iQ manage when the city element was taken out of the equation altogether?
I made it my mission to find out this summer, as the iQ spent six weeks in deepest Essex, exploring the twistiest and bumpiest back roads I could find. Add in this country’s typically unpredictable weather, and this would be a stern test of the iQ’s abilities.
As it turns out, the Toyota performed admirably. Compact dimensions mean it’s easy to place on the road, and the tall driving position gives a great view of what lies ahead. The three-cylinder engine is low on power, but it loves to be revved and it proved easy to maintain momentum on faster A and B roads.
There are one or two flaws, though. One particular bugbear of the iQ are the skinny Bridgestone tyres. They offer just enough grip on dry tarmac, but as soon as the road is wet, it doesn’t take much for the nose to run wide in corners. However, the iQ’s relative lack of power means you’re unlikely to be travelling that quickly, while the light steering, pedals and standard-fit stability control keep everything in check.
Tall, narrow dimensions and soft suspension mean there’s plenty of body roll, while the car is easily unsettled on bumpy roads thanks to its short wheelbase. But as we’ve mentioned before, the iQ’s motorway cruising ability is superb, particularly considering it’s such a small machine.
However, we have noticed that the iQ’s exhaust makes much more noise than it used to – it’s almost as if it has a hole in it. We asked Toyota about this, but it said everything is fine, and that it’s simply the nature of the car’s system.
The country life has made an impact on fuel economy. We’ve been averaging 45mpg in stop-start urban driving, but away from the traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, the iQ has been much more efficient.
The average fuel consumption on the trip computer resets each time you fill up, so it’s easy to keep an eye on how you’re doing on your current tankful. The trip hit 56mpg in the country, while our calculations back this up with an average of 50.7mpg.
That’s good going, but still well short of Toyota’s claimed figure of 65.7mpg. Even so, you’ll manage around 350 miles between fills, despite the iQ’s tiny 35-litre tank.
Overall, though, the car has continued to impress, and delivers the goods as a practical two-seater. I’ve become accustomed to the fact that the rear chairs are really only for occasional use, so most of the time they’re folded flat to make the most of the 242-litre boot. Up front, the cabin is spacious, while the dashboard design is distinctive, although the plastics are on the hard side and show up scratches rather easily.
The radio has proven a frustration, because it’s operated via a four-way joystick and button on the steering wheel. That means only the driver has control, while you have to refer to the car’s user manual to change radio station presets. There is an auxiliary socket for MP3 players, though, and sound quality from the six-speaker system is good.
We reported last time that we treated the iQ’s exterior to a hi-tech coating designed to resist dirt and make cleaning easier. Well, it’s worked!
Rain beads so easily off the windscreen when driving that the wipers are hardly ever needed, while the pearlescent white paint is back to its best just by rinsing with water. This cutting-edge treatment is about as complex as life has got with the iQ! As you would come to expect from a Toyota, it has run like clockwork from the day it arrived, and the only reason we’ve had to open the bonnet is to top up the screenwash reservoir.
The iQ has now returned to familiar city territory for the rest of its time with us. But its stint in the country has confirmed that this is one city car with a huge depth of talent, no matter where you take it.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder – and that’s certainly the case with iQ.
After being separated from the tiny Toyota for six weeks, it was great to get behind the wheel again recently. Unlike other cars in the firm’s range, the iQ has real personality.
And it appears I’m not alone in thinking this, judging by the amount of similar cars I’ve spotted in the past few weeks. Many of those have been on motorways, which is no surprise.
On a late-night, 120-mile dash back to London from our New Car Awards bash the iQ once again impressed with its refinement, comfort and minimal thirst for fuel.
James Disdale Road tester