One of the cutest cars that Toyota doesn’t take and, now that it is no more, will never take — is the tiny iQ.

The tiny four-seater was Toyota’s answer to the Smart fortwo, but was somewhat smarter because it had four seats instead of two.

Like the Volkswagen Scirocco, I used to bump into them all the time when I was travelling overseas for work — but sadly never got the chance to drive one.

VW eventually relented and brought the exciting Scirocco here, which was basically a coupe version of the Golf GTI — but Toyota never even tested the water with iQ.

It was too small and too expensive to generate a profitable business case.

The profit margin if in fact one existed would have been too small and other models such as the Echo that later became the Yaris made better busisness sense.

At a length of 2985mm with a 2000mm wheelbase, iQ was powered by a transversely mounted 1.0-litre three cylinder (50kW/98Nm), 1.4-litre four cylinder (72kW/123Nm) or 1.6-litre turbo diesel (66kW/190Nm) engines, and even an electric drivetrain during the course of its six-year life.

There were five- and six-speed manual and CVT style auto transmissions.

In the United States it wore a Scion badge and a rebadged version was even marketed in Europe as the Aston Martin Cygnet from 2009-2013, largely as a workaround for tax for owners of full-sized cars — although that’s another story.

A limited edition Gazoo version for Japanese market, had a 1.3-litre four cylinder engine, paired with a six-speed manual, stiffer sports suspension with a 30mm lower ride height, rear disk brakes, RAYS 16×5.5-in aluminium wheels with 175/60R16 rubber, enhanced brakes, stiffening brace, tachometer, aluminium pedals, rear spoiler, GRMN emblem, sport exhaust system.

iQ was designed at the Toyota European Design and Development studio in France, and is noted for its space saving design.

The design accommodates three passengers, with a seat for a fourth passenger but little or no legroom.

Nine airbags, stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, and electronic brakeforce distribution were standard.

The production ready version of the car made its debut at the 2008 Geneva motor show, with Japanese sales kicking off in November 2008, and Euro sales from January 2009.

In 2008, iQ was named the Japanese Car of the Year.

The car reached the end of production in December, 2015 and was discontinued in Japan on April 4, 2016.

Coincidentally, our local car dealer happens to have an iQ for sale.

Along with the usual fare, our used car dealer likes to dable in the classics, many of them little more than old bangers that seem to attract younger buyesr.

The car for sale is a grey import, a top of the line 2009 auto with all the fruit, that has travelled less than 28,000km.

The trouble is that it’s been sitting there for several weeks, because at $16,000 — it’s still too damned expensive.

Pity.

 

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.