By on October 3, 2008

Toyota has been showing concepts, prototypes and mock-ups of its 3+1 city car for the last four or so European motor shows, but here in Paris, it’s the real thing. The theory of the design language is silly; Toyota calls it “vibrant clarity” (that’s a state of mind I’d associate with inebriation). But the design itself is strong, clean and forward-looking. I stood in line to check out the interior of this microcar and found it conspicuously well-designed and made of high-quality materials. It didn’t quite pass the international test of anal-retentiveness (“do all surfaces refuse to give way when pressed, and sound similarly solid to a rapped knuckle?”). But don’t forget that this is a tiny, lightweight car. And a wonder of packaging. My claustrophobiac 184 cm body (that’s six feet to you Yanks) found the driver’s and two passengers’ seats snug yet uncramped. For Toyota, the big question is, how the hell to sell the iQ at a profitable price– meaning a higher price tag than its larger models? This is where new technology needs first-class marketing. If they can pull it off, then a Smart death watch may be in order.

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9 Comments on “Paris Auto Show: The Toyota iQ is Smarter than Smart Car...”

  • avatar

    I think a Smart “Death Watch” is not warranted with just one tough competitor. And especially not if Smart isn’t being mortally managed or making dire mistakes.

    I won’t be driving an iQ, but I want to see it become successful.

  • avatar

    Interesting look. I’d never consider a Smart, but something like this, in the right circumstances.. maybe. I’ve never been to keen on Smart’s styling, but I don’t mind this at all, at least not from this shot.

    Also: Whoa. BIG picture! Might help to resize these a bit before posting them. Also.. whoever shot that needs a newer lens/body combo or to learn to use what they’ve got. Lower the ISO and open the aperture, sir! Grain != good.

  • avatar

    Looks like a Yaris that’s a foot shorter. And I can’t see how it can be any worse than the Smart – hell, I think a Tonka car would be just as good as one of those mini-Mercs.

  • avatar

    It doesn’t have to be competitively priced, as people don’t buy it on price alone, but on size. It may cost as much as a Yaris and still be sold in droves. People out for a Smart-type car don’t want a Fiesta or even Golf-sized car, even if the price differential is only marginal to the bigger cars. In the 60’s, there was a big aftermarket for pimping up Minis in a very luxorious way, think of these cars as the moderna day equivalent. Its demographic are people who can afford bigger, but consider these cars neat, small, green and hip. The “it” car to have, for the smart people with high I.Q.

  • avatar

    What’s the estimated price? More important (IMO) than its cost relative to the Yaris is its cost (and performance) relative to the Smart. If it can beat the Smart in performance, comfort, and cost it should do well. Maybe they could even use the Scion badge to differentiate it some from the Yarises and Corollae on the lot. But, then I think a Smart is pretty dumb given the other choices out there costing less than a Smart.

  • avatar

    I think the Smart outta come with a Mercedes badge, that way it’ll be even more S-mart. HA….haha….ha!

  • avatar

    I think a Smart death watch could already be started. How many kneejerkers and tree huggers who had to be the first on the block at something are now having buyers remorse? Lets see, I paid how much, including dealer gouging? What, I need to pay for premium fuel for a THREE cylinder? Oh, a back seat like a civic or corrola would be nice. And it almost gets the same mileage as a passat diesel. Almost. By the way has anyone heard of one being involved in a collision? I seriously wonder how safe it would be. Or not.

  • avatar

    I thought the Smart was interesting until I saw a review in the NY Times. The reviewer averaged 32 MPG in normal driving. I average 30 in my Accord, which cost about as much new as a decently equipped Smart.

    Who would give up so much versatility for 2 MPG?

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    If they can make it get 50mpg and cost $10k, I’d buy one (who wouldn’t?). Just needs enough room for a baby seat…

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