September 12, 2007 Since time (automotive time that is) began, luxury has also by default meant big. Big meant more interior space, more power, more features, more cost and more prestige. As the world comes to terms with doing more with less, that trend seems set for a reversal – small in the future will no longer mean frugal, meagre and penny-pinching and that’s the key message Toyota is hoping to convey with the iQ concept car. Large cars don’t make a lot of sense on the crowded streets of Rome, Paris and London, so the iQ packs luxury features into a small form factor.

Launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the iQ concept can accommodate three adults, plus luggage space or seating for a fourth, child passenger. Its small size helps address the problems caused by increased urban congestion and reduces environmental impact.

Wahei Hirai, Manager of Toyota Motor Corporation’s design activities, explained: “The iQ concept is designed to reflect and enhance the lifestyle of its owners. In an urban environment, people want to express themselves through dynamic and on-the-edge design, but at the same time rational factors such as size, functionality and CO2 emissions cannot be ignored.”

The exterior is simple and viewed in profile, the ultra-short overhangs and cab-forward silhouette ensures maximum usable space is gained in the cabin. Being two centimetres shy of three metres in length the iQ four-seat passenger concept car is 425mm shorter than Aygo, but comparable to Yaris in width and height (1,680 x 1,480mm). The iQ also has a glass sunroof for light and ventilation.

In regular use, driver and passenger sit side by side, but by sliding the passenger seat further forwards room is made for an extra adult and child in the rear.

Inside the iQ, the chrome finished instrument panel has a simple geometric form, while the centre console flows in a manta ray-shape that contains the compact heating unit. A single central dial displays the interior temperature and ventilation controls directly in the driver’s eyeline, with a three-dimensional three-in-one speed, rpm and fuel level read-out mounted above the steering column. The iQ also features a mock snakeskin steering wheel trim, purple accents in the seats, door trims and dashboard. Audio and navigation controls are integrated into the steering wheel, with the route-finding information projected in a head-up display.

The iQ concept has a strong passenger compartment safety cell designed to ensure optimum impact energy absorption.

View gallery - 23 images