They say that it is an ill wind that blows no one any good and for the Toyota iQ, the economic down turn which started in 2008 came just at the right time. All of a sudden people everywhere were looking to downsize their car and, in more ways than one, Toyota's iQ delivered just that. Smart had of course got their first in the ultra small car sector, but their fortwo model never set the heather on fire when it came to sales. Now the market was turning and in 2009 Toyota was in the right place at the right time with their little three seat Toyota iQ city car. The Toyota iQ was almost as small as the Smart offering but immediately felt like the more premium car with a beautiful finish and excellent design. So good in fact that Aston Martin chose to use the Toyota as the basis for their Cygnet supercar in micro car clothes. While that car triples the Toyota iQ's price tag, the standard car delivers an outstanding proposition for economy minded motorists looking for something to tackle those city streets. It came with a choice of 1.0 or 1.33 litre petrol engines, manual or automatic gear box and simple 1, 2 or 3 trim levels.
Bang for your buck
The first thing to be said about the Toyota iQ is that it is a wonder of packaging. The Japanese manufacturer has managed to fit room for three adults and a child into a footprint barely larger than the Smart fourtwo. How do they manage that? Well, for a start, the iQ's big 15" alloy wheels are pushed right into the extremities at all four corners of the car. This means that almost all of the internal dimensions of the car are available for use by passengers. This in itself was no mean feat. The front wheels and driveshaft were moved to the front of the engine and gearbox rather than their usual position behind both.
The overall engine compartment is smaller too, with the distance from the accelerator pedal to the front bumper being reduced by 12 cm. The used Toyota iQ for sale still manages to look good though, with wraparound rear glass, smoked glass headlights and indicators in the door mirrors all pointing towards a premium micro car offering. The spatial tricks continue in the cabin, with the dashboard scooped away on the passenger side to make more legroom for the front passenger. This in turn makes it possible for a six footer to sit in the rear behind. Behind the driver meanwhile there is enough room for a child. Alternatively you could fold down this portion of the rear seat to increase luggage space, or, indeed, fold the whole rear bench away, resulting in a modest 242 litre luggage capacity. Extra storage is hidden below the rear seat. The Toyota iQ is actually wider internally than its big brother, the Yaris and overall the cabin feels surprisingly spacious.
What you'll pay
Around £6,000 will land you one of the first 2009 Toyota IQmodels with 1.0 litre engine, manual gearbox and around 38,000 miles on the clock. Add £1,200 for the Multidrive automatic version. If you can find a 1.33 version on a 59 plate, you will need to set aside something like £7,500.
What to check
Overall, the approved used Toyota iQ has thus far proven to be extremely tough. Both engines are proven and the mechanicals are road-tested, even though the design layout is new. There have been some problems reported with cracking on the front grille slats but other than that, simply check for the usual city prangs and look for a good service history. Even the earliest models are still benefitting from Toyota's five year warranty.
No real surprises here with most parts prices fairly reasonable. A set of replacement front brake pads costs £44 with rears going for £26. Brake discs are £55. An air filter is around £12 with a water pump costing £115.
How it drives
Toyota has done a great job of cramming big car ride refinement into the tiny iQ. Yes, it is still most comfortable on urban roads but it can easily manage motorway speeds without being blown around by cross winds or the passengers having to shout above engine noise. The ride is assured too, especially around corners where there is little body roll and the car feels tight. The bigger engine is the best bet but whichever used Toyota iQ you go for, you will not feel short-changed by this short little marvel from Toyota.