According to Toyota, the iQ is the smallest four-seat car in the world. That's baffling because, from the outside, it barely looks large enough to accommodate a pair of malnourished dwarfs. To achieve their goal, the iQ's designers say they had to be extremely intelligent about how they assembled this compact runabout.
The model we tested was the 1.33-litre iQ3 with the constant-variable-transmission gearbox. It retails for £12,065.
Why, iQ oughta
Many city cars tend to have a somewhat delicate appearance, as if they'd break in two on collision with something as slight as an urban fox, but the iQ is different. It's a sturdy-looking beast with a determined stance, thanks to wheels positioned on the very edges of its four corners. Its aggressive front grille also makes the iQ look like it's more than willing to take on larger cars.
Thinking outside the box
To realise its dream of accommodating four passengers, Toyota's had to build the iQ slightly differently to normal cars. It's attempted to maximise the interior space by pushing each of the four wheels as far out towards each corner of the car as possible. It's also incorporated a flat fuel tank that sits at the very bottom of the car; built a smaller-than-normal heater and air-conditioning unit; installed shock absorbers that are angled towards the rear instead of vertically; and fitted slimmer seats.
On the surface, these tweaks appear to have made all the difference. Slide open the doors, which take up most of the car's small length, and there's plenty of room to hop into the front two seats. There's bags of leg room, too -- particularly in the front passenger seat, since there's no glove compartment.
There's also plenty of elbow room. Despite being short, the iQ is as wide as a standard family car, so there's plenty of space for front passengers to spread out. You'll only remember you're in a tiny car when you turn around and see the rear window is within arm's length.
Back to the drawing board
There's plenty of room in the back of the iQ -- for Hobbits. But humans may find getting into the rear pretty difficult. It's just about manageable if you get in via the passenger side, provided you're 5'10" or shorter. If you're any taller, or you rock any sort of vertical hairdo, then you'll struggle.
The situation is even worse for rear passengers on the driver's side of the cabin. The driver's seat doesn't slide as far forwards as the front passenger's seat, and the seat back doesn't tilt as much to facilitate ingress. We found it a struggle to get shopping bags past the back of the driver's seat, and only once -- with the help of lubricant and a jolly good shove from friends -- did we get a human through the driver's door and into the rear. It was a pointless exercise, however, as, with the rear seat pushed forwards, there's no room for the driver to sit, unless they're as petite as Kylie Minogue.
Speaking of petite, the car's Lilliputian dimensions also mean there's no boot. There's merely a sort of slot between the seats and the rear hatchback. It's just large enough for a few bags of shopping.
Despite its petite dimensions, the iQ is one of the safest vehicles on the road. The car has the maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating, scoring 79 per cent for overall protection, which is more than can be said of similarly sized cars such as the, which scored four stars.