Simons Car Spots got their hands on the Toyota iQ3 last week. And whilst it’s a normal iQ3 1.33 it’s no normal car, as this one belongs to Scott Brownlee, Toyota’s Head of PR and Social Media in the UK, and has been created in his Melville family Tartan!
The iQ was launched in the UK in 2009 and is aimed as a small luxury, innovative, economical, 3+1 seater city car, and at less than 3 metres long is designed to be parked practically anywhere.
On 1st impressions the iQ is tiny in length, compared to a normal sized car of Fiat Punto proportions, but in comparison to the Smart Fourtwo, it is slightly wider and longer by a few centimetres and has a much more aggressive stance than its small rival.
Although any perception of ‘small inside’ vanishes as soon as you open the door with the keyless fob and peer into the cockpit for the 1st time. It’s big – you could almost say Tardis-like.
The other thing you notice about this particular car is it’s fitted with a one-off purple leather interior, which really suits the iQ as it adds to the small-car-big car-character feel (a shame it’s a one-off but leather is optional on 2 and 3 spec iQ’s for an extra £720.00).
The seats themselves have a distinctive design with slim seat backs and integrated headrests, they are very comfortable, adjust very easily and because of the way Toyota have staggered the front seating, with 2 people in the front you could be mistaken for thinking you were in an Astra-sized car.
Although the Front Seats are very comfortable and spacious what’s it like in the back? Well Toyota claim you can get Three 6-footers in the iQ with the front seat pushed forward, but in my tests I found even better tests.
The 1st was my 10 yr old son in the front and my 7 yr old daughter behind him and my 5 yr old son behind me (all with booster seats) over a 6 mile journey and had no complaints. The 2nd test was my mother in law in the front and my wife behind over the same journey, and again no complaints.
Once you’ve got yourself comfortable the next thing you notice is the centre dash where the CD, air-con and heating controls are located. It’s quite futuristic and funky looking, and kind of resembles a Transformer.
The grey and black plastics surrounding the console are quite hard to the touch but look hardwearing and durable. The steering wheel which has a flat bottom which has been designed to give the driver more space between the wheel and driver and incorporates the 6 speaker stereo controls using a simple joystick layout, and although the stereo was good sounding I found it hard to tune in radio stations.
The speedo continues with the fresh funky theme by having a swirly design and a shift light that glows green when it’s time to change up or down the gears to encourage economical driving.
In 3 spec the iQ comes very well equipped as standard including climate air-con, VSC+, traction control, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, 16? alloys, retractable mirrors, leather steering wheel, heated mirrors, ABS with EBD and BA, and Isofix seats.
Safety wise the iQ also has 9 airbags with an industry first of a curtain shield airbag, which deploys between the roof panel and headlining, then from the edge of the headlining along the rear window.
Boot space is non-existent with only enough space for an envelope or a sandwich, so you could either do your shopping online, fold the seat behind the driver down, or the best solution I found was that if no passengers are being carried then you can use the passenger footwell, which can take 3 shopping bags with the seat pushed back.
What’s it like to drive? Push the start-stop button and the 1.33 engine fires into life with quite a sporty sounding rasp, push down the light clutch and engage 1st gear and away you go. At first it felt like a normal car, nothing spectacular, but as I pulled onto the main road and accelerated the turbo kicked in and pulled away very briskly. Once past 3000 rpm, the engine takes on a sportier feel in the way it accelerates and nips in and out of city traffic. The 98bhp 1.33 Dual VVT-i engine really is good, and 0-60 is a claimed 11.6 seconds but because the iQ is so small it really makes you feel like you’re in a pocket rocket.
Even though you’re in a very small car it really does have a big-car feel. That is until you try to take a corner too fast. Because of the small wheelbase and the slightly over-powered steering you get quite a bit of body roll, although the specially designed suspension does a good job in soaking them up, but it’s ultimately the driver that forgets they’re in a small car that is to blame.
The same can’t be said of speed bumps though, again due to the short wheelbase, as it does crash over them. Parking is a doddle – I mean if you can’t park a car less than 3 metres long you really shouldn’t be driving.
On the motorways the 1.33cc engine never struggles and keeps pulling past 60 and keeps up with faster moving traffic no worries at all. Wind noise is very well suppressed thanks to a triple-layer acoustic windscreen which has an interlayer between the glass which Toyota claims reduces to claim noise level by 20%. In all honesty there wasn’t much wind noise but you could still hear tyre and wing mirror noise. Toyota claim 57.6 mpg on the combined cycle and in my week with the car I averaged 48 mpg which was mainly very short city driving.
Before I give my verdict here are two more facts about the model I drove. Firstly, if you have an eagle eye you can see it on ITV1 before it had the Tartan wrap, in the ‘Toyota sponsors’ film ads. Secondly, the Tartan iQ came about as a result of some joking Between Scott Brownlee and a retired journalist called Jim Currie.
Okay, so the good bits…
Full of technology, easy to drive and par, well equipped, economical
Expensive iQ3 1.33 from £12,775.00
Purple leather isn’t available, neither is royal blue or terracotta. The radio controls are a bit fiddly and I would’ve preferred an auto box.
Would I buy one? Even though I think it is expensive, I would have to say yes! I totally get Toyota with the iQ and their way of thinking with it. All my driving is city driving and the iQ is nippy, agile and economical, and in 1.33cc form puts a smile on your face every time. It’s a refreshing place to be with a colourful interior a high-ish driving position, very comfortable and even without a boot it’s still viable for some shopping or I could just order my shopping online. Despite its price and the fact there are bigger and more spacious cars out there, the iQ gives you that bit of individuality. Or another way to look at it is, if Aston Martin are comfortable selling a similar-sized car starting at £30,000 then the iQ is good enough for me for half the money!
I would like to say a big thank you to Scott Brownlee, John Brooks and Toyota GB for organising to loan Simon’s Car Spots the Toyota iQ.
© Simon Ford, November 2011