Make a tiny two-door city car, and name it the iQ. That is pretty clearly a shot at the Smart car, right off the bat – it would be like Chevy releasing a special edition Camaro called the “it’s faster than Shelby.” So how smart is Toyota’s Smart? What’s its iQ, to stretch the pun?
Are you looking at my butt?
The iQ has the odd distinction of being the smallest four-seater in America. And small it is: it’s 119.9″ long overall, which is one-tenth of an inch shorter than the wheelbase of the Chrysler 300 I just recently reviewed. It’s 13″ longer than a Smart ForTwo, but it does have back seats- and only 5″ additional wheelbase. It’s 20″ shorter than a Fiat 500, 29″ shorter than a Mini Cooper Coupe, 38″ shorter than a Mazda MX-5 Miata, and amusingly you could fit the iQ (119.9″) inside the wheelbase of a Chevy Suburban (130″), and almost park two end to end next to one (222″ overall.) It’s tiny.
So in a car this tiny, how do they manage to fit four seats? What compromises are made? What’s the point? Well, for starters, here’s the engine.
There’s an engine in here?
You can actually reach back there and poke the firewall; it’s amazing they fit an engine in what wouldn’t pass for a trunk in most cars. There was a lot of clever engineering that went into making the iQ as space-efficient as possible. The steering rack is mounted above the engine, instead of behind it. The A/C system has been miniaturized and stuffed in behind the dashboard (which is why there’s no glove box.) The reduced size of A/C components allowed the engineers to cut the dashboard forward towards the floor, move the seats up, and create room for the rear. As a result, the car’s tiny outside but you can fit three people comfortably.
The rear-seat magic trick.
Or you could remove the headrests, flip the seats down, and actually have useable trunk space. There simply isn’t any with the seats up (3.5 cubic feet does not count, sorry) since the rear headrests sit against the back window!