Todays world is packed with clever little gadgets and gizmos. iPod’s transform your music library into a small on-the-go box, mobile phones turn miles of cables into a go-anywhere device, even tape measures today are packed with lasers and the like. It appears the trend is to make everything smaller but more functional, but how to do that in the motor industry? The last car to spark such a revolution was the original Mini Cooper but with todays health and safety flim-flam engineers cant be as creative as they would like to be.
Toyota say they have gotten smart with their iQ (excuse the pun). This is the smallest car on sale today measuring just 3 meters in length and despite this it still seats four. From the outside the little iQ looks as fashionable as the latest offering of training shoes and in white I think even the fabled Steve Jobs would approve. Its simplicity in design makes for a clean and well finished exterior. But what about inside? Surely its size is to its detriment?
Incredibly the answer to that question is no! Ok, so you probably shouldn’t expect business class levels of space and comfort but for a car of this size its a bit of a TARDIS. Upfront the clear layout of the dashboard, centre console and compact wheel all amplify the good levels of room. The iQ lacks a conventional glovebox in favor of giving the front passenger a couple of inches more in terms of legroom. In the back there is room for two medium sized adults thanks to an intuitive layout that takes full advantage of every millimeter of space the cabin has to offer. It isn’t claustrophobic and the view out of the car is rather good thanks to the proximity of the front windscreen. I wouldn’t like to spend more than an hour in the back, but as a city run-about that eventuality is unlikely. The only real downfall of the interior is that with the two rear seats upright the only cargo you will be fitting in the boot are envelopes. Not good news for those hoping to get the weekly shop with the kids in the back.
Our test car was the base 1.0 litre model with a few toys such as keyless go. On the move the little engine was perky getting out of junctions with the revvy motor. However once you get to about 35MPH it rather begins to run out of puff. Though designed for the city we decided to take the iQ on a trip down the dual carriageway well out of its comfort zone. This showed as it will get to 70MPH (eventually) but not do allot more once it gets there. Heading back into a busy town the iQ comes into its own with a turning circle that has to be seen to be believed! Parking, as you can imagine, is a piece of cake in such a small car and with parking sensors you will surprise yourself as to the size of spaces that you can get into.
In terms of practicality, efficiency and engineering the iQ is well worth its £9,995 starting price. Is it a modern-day incarnation of the original Mini? No, and I shall tell you why. Though the iQ is extremely functional and very good at being an urban mover, it just lacks character. Your dishwasher, for example, is very good at washing dishes but you don’t form any sort of attachment to it. Its the same with the iQ, it just lacks personality that a little car such as this should have. Its not a deal breaker if you literally use a car to get from a to b and care not for the experience, but to someone who enjoys driving some of its larger competitors do offer a better time behind the wheel.
So overall the iQ is very well built and extremely safe thanks to its 9 airbags. Bounding around town it offers everything you could want but much in the same way you don’t thank your iPod for playing music, you won’t appreciate the iQ for anything more than its function.