The little Toyota rides better than expected, accelerates smoothly, and is, at least in diesel guise, quite sporty.
When a car is badged iQ, it needs to be more clever than its competition, cars like the Smart, the Mini Cooper, and the Fiat 500. To eclipse those vehicles, Toyota chose a radically different vehicle architecture that measures just less than ten feet in length, five and a half feet in width, and five feet in height. That makes the iQ about as wide and as tall as a Corolla and less than a foot longer than a Smart, and yet it can seat up to four people. An optical illusion? A magician’s masterpiece? Wishful thinking? None of it. The automaker simply evolved the original microcompact Smart car architecture conceived by Mr. Swatch, Nicolas Hayek. The crucial move-apart from installing a front-mounted drivetrain-was to bring the passenger seat forward by half a length, thereby making room for a full-size third seat in row two. Next to it, there’s just about enough space to accommodate a child, but only if the driver is willing to move close to the steering wheel. Where the Smart has its powertrain, the iQ has its trunk. It isn’t huge, but the space can be easily expanded by tipping the rear seatbacks forward.