An alternative to the Smart ForTwo micro-compact from Daimler AG, Toyota’s iQ, a C-segment, super compact car, is as Earth-friendly and as radically designed as its competition. Only a small handspan short of three metres long, the “phone-booth on wheels” iQ is a 3+1 car, seating three adults and a child (or luggage) as compared to the two-seater Smart.
The iQdiffers from the Smart despite similar silhouettes and wheels at the corners. The German hyper-compact is driven by its rear wheels, with a small three-cylinder engine tucked at the rear, while the iQ has a front-end engine and front wheel drive. The Toyota is also larger than the Smart, standing ten inches longer and five inches wider, and 2.4 inches lower on a 4.7-inch longer wheelbase.
Even with its small size, the iQ got a five-star safety rating in Euro NCAP testing. Toyota is promoting several architectural and engineering innovations it used to maximize interior space in the micro compact iQ, including the extended wheelbase of almost 79 inches, providing more space between the wheels. Other space-saving improvements include a new compact differential, adding over a hundred millimetres of extra length in the cabin; a flat fuel tank under the seats; compact, yet efficient climate control; a center take-off steering column; an asymmetrical dashboard; and slimmer seats that adds 1.5 inches in length to the interior. The iQ will also come with 16-inch wheels and front engine options that include two gasoline or one diesel powerplant. The iQ concept model in Geneva featured an audio/navigation system with heads-up display and steering-wheel.
Managing officer of Toyota Motor Corporation's Design activities, Wahei Hirai, says:
”The iQ concept is designed to reflect and enhance the lifestyle of its owners. In an urban environment, people want to express themselves through dynamic and on-the-edge design, but at the same time rational factors such as size, functionality and CO2 emissions cannot be ignored. Bringing these contradictory aims together in synergy was critical to the iQ concept, and is a way of thinking we call the ‘J-factor', a philosophy at the heart of all our activities.”