27 October 2009

Toyota iQ

Today I took Toyota iQ as replacement for my car that I left for service. It was 1.0 L 3 cylinder benzine with manual transmission. I normally drive a 4x4 2005 Land Cruiser 3.0 L 4 cylinder diesel with automat. So it was quite interesting change for me. The reason was that I like the iQ concept: make it small on the outside and large on the inside. iQ is practically square. In white it looks like a washing-machine. But most of the time we spend sitting inside the car and not looking at it’s outside. In Europe the road tax for heavy, diesel cars is very high. A little and economic car seems really interesting nowadays. iQ is a perfect car for one person living in the city. It’s easy to park and not obtrusive. I like the looks of iQ. Inside it feels quite roomy (for one). Seats are a bit too hard, however allowing a comfortable adjustment. (After my second test a few weeks later I must admit that seats are not that comfortable. That is sad as the price of this car is rather high in it's class.) Steering wheel can only be adjusted in height. The speed dials are well placed and not too many. All in amber, that seems little outdated but at least matching with all displays. (I prefer white backlight dials that make me more alert at night). Steering wheel is standard in leather and comfy with nice thick grip on the sides. Levers for indicators are well placed. There is a nicely designed central console display that in my car had almost no function (?). Controls for the audio are rather unintuitive and difficult to figure out without instruction. I missed an elbow support in form of a box. There is Aux-In for iPod/iPhone or other MP3 player. 6 CD changer supports MP3. Dials for Airco and temperature are nice rotary. I did not like the purple inside of the door and dashboard and I’m afraid it can not be changed? The visibility is good and the overall feeling inside is positive. The steering of the car is very direct, but needs getting used as it is such a short wheel base car (only 3 meters long). I imagine it must be easy to put the car sideways. My manual 5 speed gearbox was working fine – although the manual transmission is one of the weakest points in the cars nowadays. The 3 cylinder 1.0 liter engine was OK, even on the motorway, but do not expect a great power. On the other hand I had impression that stronger engine (1.33 or diesel) could make this car dangerous. Imagine: it’s a washing machine on wheels! I did not like the green arrows telling me when to shift the gears. Breaks (disc front, drum back) are fine. The noise on the motorway is not that bad but on a rainy day I felt as if my rear window was open. Visibility in the back is not that great, but OK. Pity that the rear window washer is swiping to the right that is for the left-hand traffic (Japan) and not Europe - leaving the left back corner of the screen wet and dirty. There is also an issue of Toyota making this car so “fancy” that it only comes in three basic colors: white – for her, black – for him and purple – for both? That’s OK – but please give us some more choice! It’s not an iPhone that's only black or white! This is a Toyota! So what is my impression? Positive when I look at the car body and general design. The little engine and manual gearbox left me with feeling of outdated technology. OK there is a stronger engine and a mechanized gearbox (not real automat) but when I compare the 2005 technology of Land Cruiser with this hip iQ aimed at iPod generation than iQ feels like old technology from the drive power plant point of view. So now we come to the most interesting concept: I really hope that Toyota is considering making iQ an all-electric car. It would be fantastic. No noise. No emission. Direct transmission. This would be the iQ of my expectation. So far it is only a nice future concept with simple drive power technology.