Toyota iQ

The Essentials

  • Price from £10,815
  • What Car? says: 3 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 64.2mpg
  • What is it? Dinky city car with decent equipment and low running costs. Not so cheap to buy, though.

Great

  • Funky looks, dinky size and nimble handling suit the city
  • It's well equipped
  • Running costs are low

Gripes

  • It's expensive for its size
  • It can't really seat four
  • The interior materials are a bit dour
  • Drive

    Unbeatable for around-town manoeuvrability, but ride, handling and refinment are poor.

  • Inside

    Some confusing controls and not good-enough quality to warrant the pricetag.

  • Safety

    Stability control and a very impressive nine airbags are standard, but it's a shame there's no cover to hide the contents of the boot.

  • Reliability

    Should be faultless given Toyota's reputation and levels of customer satisfaction.

  • Space

    Excellent use of the limited space available, but it's not really a four-seater and shortage of luggage space could be a problem.

  • Standard and extras

    Even the cheapest models get plenty of kit.

  • What's it like to drive?

    There are two engines, both petrols: a 1.0-litre with 67bhp and a 1.33-litre with 98bhp. Both feel sprightly around town but tend to struggle at higher speeds. You can choose between a manual gearbox or a slightly jerky automatic.
    The iQ's light controls and tight turning circle make it effortless to drive in the city, but the ride is bumpy and it's unsettled on faster roads. It leans in bends and the front of the car quickly loses grip, while vague steering and a vulnerability to side winds make motorway journeys hard work.
    The door mirrors generate a bit of wind noise at speed, and the 1.0-litre engine has a distinctive thrum, but the iQ remains pretty hushed otherwise.

  • What's it like inside?

    The iQ has a futuristic-looking dashboard, although the hard plastics don't exactly feel cutting-edge.
    The single stereo control on the steering wheel is fiddly, but it means the centre console stays free of clutter. Comfort would be improved if the seat was height-adjustable and the wheel moved for reach as well as rake. Rear visibility isn't great, either.
    The iQ is just a handspan longer than a Smart Fortwo, yet it can seat four people - well, sort of. Only the skinniest child will manage to squeeze behind an average-sized driver, but the absence of a glovebox allows the front passenger to sit farther forward, leaving (just about) enough space for an adult behind. Boot space is virtually non-existent with all the seats in place, but the rear seat backs split 50/50 and fold to make room for a couple of shopping bags.
    The entry-level model - the 1.0-litre iQ - gets alloy wheels, air-conditioning and a stereo with MP3 input; upgrading to iQ2 brings front foglamps, automatic lights and wipers and climate control. The 1.33-litre has its own iQ3 trim including six gears instead of five and a fuel-saving stop-start system.

  • How reliable is it?

    Toyota has performed consistently well in the JD Power customer satisfaction survey, and the iQ topped its class in the most recent study. There's also a five-year warranty.
    The iQ scored the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests and it comes loaded with safety kit, including stability control and an impressive nine airbags as standard.

  • Should I buy one?

    The iQ is very expensive for a city car and really it's only good for two occupants. That said, it's well equipped and it will hold its value well. Running costs are low, too: the 1.0-litre manual averages over 64mpg, and emits less than 100g/km of CO2, so road tax and the London Congestion Charge are free.