California Autos Examiner

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Edmunds Tests Pre-Production Toyota iQ

Toyota is hoping that its new iQ will represent a strong challenge to smart's fortwo city car. Up until now, the diminutive and very stylish (in my opinion) smart has pretty much been playing in its own sandbox, but Toyota has decided to crash the party. Whereas the styling of the fortwo is more appealing to my eye, the iQ totes some very valuable differentiators. The biggest change to smart's recipe is that the iQ can haul around four peeps. Granted when it comes to full sized, aka "real", people the iQ can only handle three, but the ability for a family man to haul around his brood in a pinch is a pretty big deal. Also a big deal for many interested parties is the fact that the iQ comes with "real" transmission options: a six speed manual and a cvt. Oh sure, you'll find some people who "love" their smart's slow witted, fumbling manumatic but the universally reviled tranny would be dumped by almost everyone else if a better option came along. No, you won't be able to swap out body panels at the drop of a hat or have googly-eyed pods for the tach and clock on the dashboard. The smart is always going to have the style trump card, but by just about every other measure the iQ will be the more practical car.

Now will it come to the United States? The Edmunds article doesn't delve into this topic, but I will. Toyota has publicly said that they are worried about the U.S. safety tests with this car. However, Edmunds mentions that the 9 airbag iQ should rate a stellar 5 stars in the European NCAP testing. Chances are that Toyota will or potentially has already solved any problems with bringing this car to the United States, hopefully with its seating capacity in tact. Smart's success here in the States has a lot of companies licking their chops. The lure of Toyota reliability and the expansive Toyota dealership network will speak volumes to potential smart customers who worry about 200 mile round-trips to dealers and the constant threat of "check engine" lights and transmissions that must be "retrained" in order to work again.

You can read the full Edmunds article and check out iQs in all the colors of the rainbow by clicking here.

photo source: edmunds/Nobuhiro Takahashi

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