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Is the Toyota IQ the New Smart Car?

January 2009 sees the launch of the latest "Super-Mini" to hit the UK car market. Already available in Japan and Europe, I wonder whether Toyota have been as clever as the name boasts. Buyers would be smart, pardon the pun; to remember to protect an investment of around £10 000 with an appropriate gap insurance policy which will cover you against rapid depreciation levels should you be unlucky enough write off your car or it is stolen.

The Toyota IQ could be the smartest thing to hit the market since the economy took a bad turn. Could this small four-seater car be just what many cash-strapped families are looking for in these money burdened times?

This small car comes in at just under three metres long, and is dwarfed in comparison with other cars. Only 300mm larger than the Smart, the IQ offers two additional seats than the tiny Smart. Don’t let its small size fool you though. This clever car boasts a height and width comparable to its bigger rivals.

Through engineering tricks, Toyota has managed to provide ample interior space as well, with a more compact air con and heating unit design, and a fuel tank that rests under the feet of the front passengers. Quite clever really.

Although the IQ is considered a four-seater car, it is not quite designed for four full sized adults. The uniquely designed dashboard provides room for the passenger seat to be further towards the front of the car, which allows for full sized seating behind. However, the driver's side seat is not afforded the same luxury, and the additional seat behind is better suited to smaller children.

Long-term savings

The IQ provides a clever way to save on petrol costs, with its high - around 67! - mileage per gallon. Its revolutionary carbon dioxide reducing features drops the emissions rate to under 100g/km, which means that it qualifies to be road tax free. Hurrah!

The bare bones model will still sport air conditioning and a whopping 9 air bags, but its price is not so small starting at £9800. The fully functioned design with sat-nav, keyless ignition, and other functions will set you back £11000 or more. Hmmmm, one has to ask if two extra seats - especially little ones - justify the extra three-and-a-half-odd grand compared to the humble SMART. Certainly the kudos-factor of Toyota will help, along with the millions that will no-doubt be lavished upon marketing and advertising;but it remains to be seen whether this clever car is as smart as its name insists. While the Toyota IQ can save you money on road taxes and is better for the environment, its price makes it less intriguing than its larger (or smaller)counterparts.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily held by the Click4Group unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.