With only 67bhp under your right foot in the 1.0, the Toyota iQ was never going to feel particularly fleet. Nor is it helped by being not only heavier than a Smart, which you would expect, but also a Fiat 500 – which you would not. Still, the little engine is eager enough and willing to rev cleanly to its red line; if you believed the numbers that were appearing on the clock, you might actually think the iQ possessed a reasonable turn of speed.
But two things become apparent after speedometer correction. First, the iQ’s straight-line performance is very modest indeed, and second, it has not been helped at all by Toyota’s choice of gearing. This is a car with a top speed of just 99mph that will nevertheless do 62mph in second gear. We can only hazard that its bizarrely high intermediate gearing has something to do with achieving good results on official consumption and emissions tests. Unfortunately they also mean that on our performance test the iQ fails to realise even its modest potential. We scrabbled to 60mph in 13.6sec, which sounds slow only until you learn that it took 25.4sec to cover the 50-70mph measure in top gear.
The 1.33-litre, 98bhp, four cylinder unit Toyota also uses in other economy models such as Auris and Verso. The idea is to provide a bit more overtaking and open-roads ability for customers prepared to sacrifice some of the original iQ’s deeply impressive economy in exchange for considerably longer legs, a more conventional engine sound, about 12mph more top speed but remarkably little extra acceleration. For your extra outlay on the asking price, you get a car that’ll officially do 0-60mph in 13.1 seconds (with the manual gearbox). That is only about 0.7 seconds better than Toyota's claims for the smaller-engined car.