More than four decades ago, North Americans began a love affair with an inexpensive little two-door runabout that Toyota introduced to North America from its Japanese homeland. The Corolla badge has so far been affixed to 40 million vehicles.
Certainly Toyota isn’t expecting its Scion-branded iQ to be a case of history repeating, but if just a little of that ol’ Corolla mojo rubs off on this tiniest of four-seaters, the automaker would definitely have another hit on its hands. The iQ is an interesting piece of architecture. Toyota has managed to take a vehicle that’s a scant three metres long (roughly 30 centimetres longer than a Smart fortwo) and create a rolling habitat for four people.
The previous statement, however, requires some clarification. The person sitting directly behind the driver will either have to be very small, or sufficiently flexible to sit cross-legged for extended periods.
For all practical purposes, the iQ is essentially a three-person proposition, but it still puts the Smart to shame. Young urban singles and multi-car families are the likely targets, but more car can be had for about the same money from other automakers with as good, or better fuel-efficiency stats.
But don’t discount the iQ’s certain indescribable charm factor. After all, it worked for the Corolla.
Keeping the iQ on the go and hopefully out of trouble is a 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine that generates 94 horsepower and 89 pound-feet of torque.
That is minimal, but considering the car’s modest 970-kilogram curb weight, it’s likely all that’s needed for most urban driving scenarios.
Seating and space
This so-called “micro subcompact” offers a unique seating arrangement, with the driver’s chair positioned a few centimetres aft of the front passenger seat.
This arrangement allows for a reasonable legroom assigned to the spot behind the shotgun position, but barely any such space exists behind the driver. Full Monty seat deployment also results in a mere mail slot’s worth of storage space, accessible through the rear hatch. But with the rear seat folded, stashing a couple of sets of golf clubs or full-size suitcases would not be out of the question.
How many airbags?
The iQ isn’t particularly wide — nearly equal to the fortwo in this regard — but the offset front-seat layout should provide sufficient space to prevent elbow collisions.
It also features an amazing 11 airbags strategically located about the cabin. The list includes the first-ever rear-window airbag plus driver and front-passenger knee and seat-cushion airbags.