California Autos Examiner

Thursday, December 06, 2007

iQ in 2009

Monday’s Handelsblatt business paper in Germany reported that Toyota had confirmed its rumored intention to build a smaller-than-Aygo model, for launch in 2009. It's unclear how much the production model will differ from the concept. We should see the production version at the 2008 Geneva show. No real news, as it was a foregone conclusion that Toyota was headed to market with a fortwo competitor.

For the sake of comparison, I've posted both the iQ concept (top) and the Endo concept (bottom) which preceded it. I think that the iQ definitely improved upon the original, so Toyota seems to be headed in the right direction with this one.

Will it make it to our market? Certainly smart's fat order bank here in the USA has all manufacturers interested. GM has said that it won't field such a model anywhere in the world, but VW has a production version of its rear engined up! following closely on Toyota's heels. I think a large draw for the smart is its Euro chic design which could play out after a year or two. I'm sure that smart will add a micro hybrid, diesel (if it can meet emissions standards) and a peppier Brabus version to the US lineup over time to keep things interesting. There is a full electric version that they've been testing in London that could make it here as well. The iQ concept does manage 3 1/2 passengers, so that is a plus and as it stands right now looks pretty attractive. If Toyota offers a production model with a smooth powertrain that serves up enough power and safety, I imagine they could sell enough of them to make it worth their while. It certainly would be a niche model, but that's not a bad thing.


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