Toyota’s iQ is smart enough to take on Smart ForTwo

Spies recently caught the Toyota iQ undergoing some street testing earlier last week. And while most are comparing it to Smart’s ForTwo, iQ’s chief engineer Hiroki Nakajima says that’s where the similarities between the two compact cars end.

With two more seats in the back unlike the Smart ForTwo, Nakajima says the Toyota iQ will be more fuel-efficient than any car in Toyota’s lineup. Toyota calls the car a ‘three and a half’ seater. Honestly we think it will only comfortably seat three people with the rear passenger sitting right in the middle to get some breathing room. However, sitting on 78.7 inch wheelbase, one must wonder how Toyota created the extra cabin space.

According to Nakajima, Toyota designers used a flat underseat fuel tank that allows for a shorter rear overhang. The steering column design allows the engine to be pushed forward, allowing additional interior space. Other space saving techniques include a smaller heating and AC unit and steel frames that allow thin passenger seats.

What came as a surprise to us was Nakajima’s comments on where the iQ will be sold. The chief engineer says that the iQ will go on sale in Japan in November followed by European sales which begin in January 2009. Nakajima said that U.S. sales ‘are a good possibility.’ A good possibility? Come on! Look at the gas-prices and the success of the Smart ForTwo; it should be a HUGE possibility.

Nakajima also said that Toyota has plans to compete with the Tata Nano with its iQ. He said pricing is expected to be around that of the Yaris in the U.S. which starts at $11,550.

Toyota iQ Gallery:

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Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)