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Toyota iQ 2011 Review

The Toyota iQ is an impressive little package which could certainly find a home in Oz.

Our big cities are going the same way but we still have a big car mindset - it's silly really. We recently drove Toyota's 1.3-litre petrol iQ city car in Germany and were left wondering why it hasn't made it to Oz.

VALUE

Price is probably the reason because the 3.0 metre long iQ 1.3 three and a half seater sells for about the equivalent of $16,000 on the road in Europe and Toyota isn't willing to cannibalise Yaris sales here. Pity because the iQ is a terrific little car.

TECHNOLOGY

The 1.3 litre engine is a twin cam unit with variable valve timing to generate a handy 72kW/98Nm output and use a mere 5.0-litres/100km. The car we drove had a CVT auto which makes it even better in the city. Naturally, we took it on the autobahn expecting to be run off the road that wasn't the case at all.

We were often in the fast lane on unrestricted sections whizzing along at 180kmh, a point at which the speed limiter cuts in. It was a bit weird to be going so fast in something so small but there were no dramas at all, we could have been in a car twice the size given the way it handled and stayed on track. Of course, 180 wasn't fast enough for many other drivers who whistled up behind us and put on the left blinker- code for get out of the way.

DRIVING

We had no preconceptions about it but were immediately impressed by the ride and handling and the zippy feel. You'd expect something this short to buck and pitch all over the place. Not so, it rides like a Corolla
and has sharper dynamics thanks to the wheel at each corner design. Though diminutive in dimensions, the iQ is cunningly designed to provide plenty of room for two, three at a pinch thanks to the asymmetrical dash which allows the passenger to sit more forward than the driver.

We decided to venture off one of the autobahns into the German countryside where the iQ proved even handier especially when we got lost and had to double back on narrow winding mountain roads. This little Toyota turns virtually in its own length and we even tried it between two closely spaced walls near a farm complex no problem, one three pointer was all it took. We stopped in a terrific country village for a coffee and parked at 90 degrees to the footpath because we could and the spot was right out the front of the cafe. The black forest cake was rich enough to keep us going for a day or two while the small fuel tank in the iQ was enough for it to run possibly 500km.

Toyota used many clever tricks to optimise interior space in iQ such as the compact aircon/heater system, flat fuel tank, angled shock absorbers and skinny back seats. You don't feel like you are in a tiny car once you are in it and driving. But the boot is extremely small unless you fold the rear seat. It gets a five star crash rating thanks in part to nine airbags and stability control. The cute little three door comes out of a Japanese factory and has a funky but fairly Spartan interior. Our test drive car featured the latest satnav with traffic broadcasts very handy.

The Toyota iQ is an impressive little package which could certainly find a home in Oz. It's much better than the Smart for Two in every measure and though tiny, looks quite purposeful and certainly not laughable.

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