The Toyota iQ was first unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 2008; it is a supermini city car weighing only 1,896 pounds. Sales for the Toyota iQ started in October 2008 in Japan and in January 2009 in Europe. The initials “iQ” stand for the term intelligence quotient, but Toyota says the “i” is for “individuality”, “intelligence” and “innovation”, whereas “Q” stands for “quality” and the car’s cubic shape. It was declared Car of the Year in Japan in 2008.
The car’s design was built to enhance low fuel consumption, environmental friendliness, maneuverability and maximized interior space. The latter is improved by a flat fuel tank, rear-angled shock absorbers, a smaller air conditioning unit, asymmetric dashboard and a center take-off steering gear. The seating design is also slimmer, so the interior is spacious and smart. The Toyota iQ comes in a two-seat version and three four-seat versions. The two-seater is only sold in Japan. The petrol engines range between 67 and 93 horsepower and are fitted with 5 or 6-speed manual transmissions.
As for safety, it seems as though Toyota put a lot of effort building 9 airbags into it, like dual frontal airbags, side torso airbags, side curtain airbags, front passenger seat cushion airbag, a driver’s knee airbag and a rear curtain airbag to protect backseat passengers’ heads from rear end collisions.
In 2009 Toyota also revealed the Toyota FT-EV concept car, an electric vehicle with a range of approximately 50 miles. This variant will probably go into mass-production this year. Toyota iQ also came in a limited Gazoo variant of 100 units only. This racing version has a package including front bumper spoilers, side mudguards, rear bumper spoiler, front fog lamps and front sport seat covers. It was also provided with enhanced brakes, stiffer sport suspension and a 6-speed manual transmission.
Americans will only see a Scion iQ Concept car built by Five Axis. This concept car based on the Toyota iQ has a four-cylinder engine, 18 inch wheels and widened wheel arches. Because it was designed as a city commuting vehicle, the Scion iQ has a lower battery capacity but a faster charging time, allowing the car to be fully charged in three hours. The iQ EV has a 12 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that delivers a range of 85 km and it can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 14 seconds. The maximum speed is said to be 125 km/h and it’s equipped with regenerative braking system. While the Toyota iQ weighs no more than 860 kg, the iQ EV is just 125 kg heavier.