What’s the Toyota iQ like to drive?

Toyota iQ in the wild (photo by antony_mayfield – CC-BY)

The Toyota iQ is a very small car, whose carbon dioxide emissions are so low that it is exempt from road tax in the UK. I recently had a chance to drive one, and it was a much nicer car than I was expecting.

The car is short, very short. Less than three meters long. You can park it in the most unlikely spaces. It also has an astonishingly small turning circle.

Inside, it’s surprisingly roomy. Although the car is short, it’s wide and quite tall. There’s space for “three and a half” people. Because the driver needs space to operate the pedals, the driver’s seat is set back a little compared to the front passenger seat. This doesn’t leave much space for an adult behind the driver.

Lifting the hatch reveals enough space for about two handbags, so any real luggage needs to be carried on the back seat. Two adults and a cello pretty-much fill the car.

The five-speed manual version of the iQ is lively enough for around-town running. Even on the motorway, it has no trouble travelling at the speed limit. It’s just a little slow to accelerate from 60mph to 70mph, so you need to allow an extra second or two for overtaking manoeuvers.

One of the ways in which Toyota has provided so much passenger space in this tiny car is to arrange the steering linkage to keep it “out of the way” of potential passenger space. As a result, the steering feels just a tiny bit less responsive than one is accustomed to on a modern car.

In the interests of saving space, there’s no glove box. Or maybe this was a deliberate design decision to make you feel like you’re travelling in a nano-car. So where do you put your gloves? You could put them in the roomy door pockets, or Toyota will sell you a funky clip-on pocket that can hold the instruction manual, the service record, and your gloves.

The car is well-equipped. There are nine (!) airbags including driver, passenger, seat cushion, knee, side window curtain and rear window curtain airbags. The operation of many controls is automated.

I didn’t find much to dislike about this quirky but efficient car.

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