I have a 2:1 in EastEnders Studies from a second-rate university, haven't had a proper job in more than a decade, and thought the Audi A2 was going to change the world. Who am I to question the finance, branding and marketing strategy of the world's greatest car manufacturer? But I have to say, I think Toyota is making a big fat mistake with their new iQ.
It's not the car that's the problem. The three-cylinder, petrol-engined iQ is the most radically packaged car since the Smart; perhaps even since the Mini of 1959. By moving the differential in front of the crankshaft, and shaving the size of the air-conditioning unit and fuel tank, Toyota has kept the iQ's length within 29cm of the Smart's, yet it can seat four people. It's shorter than the original Mini too which is astonishing considering Toyota expects it to score five stars in the NCAP safety test. Now, admittedly, the unfortunate runt who has to sit behind the driver will need telescopic legs, but I'll venture most Smart owners would give their left Blackberries to be able to carry a couple of extra passengers from time to time.
I've merely sat in an iQ – in Tokyo last year – so I can't vouch for how it drives, but it was extraordinarily roomy with class-leading interior quality. In fact, it has one of the best-looking Japanese car interiors I've ever seen. And, judging from the stance alone, it is clearly going to be more at home dicing with Eddie Stobart on the M1 on a wet and windy February evening than the wheelie-bin Smart.
All great, but here is where Toyota's key strategists really ought to have dropped me a line: prices are expected to start at around £10,000. That looks like madness considering the new Ford Ka is likely to start at £7,500 and Aygos and Pandas are £3,000 cheaper.
I beg you, Toyota, your rifle may be trained on your left foot and your finger hovering over the trigger, but it's not too late! Please, knock a couple of grand off the price or what could become a genuine quantum leap in automotive design will, like the A2, be nothing more than a sideways stumble.
Oh, and incidentally, a quick alert to all car companies: lower case "i"s are, like, so 2001.Reuse content