Price: £10,495 Top speed: 93 mph 0-60mph 14.7 seconds Consumption: 65.7 mpg CO2 emissions: 99g/km Best for: Smart graduates Also worth considering? Mini One, Fiat 500, Smart fortwo
Every car launch is accompanied by a certain amount of marketing flim-flam. First there are the charts explaining the new product's market positioning. Then there are the analyses of the sorts of people who are likely to buy it, expressed in that strange, jarring language in which only second-rate management consultants communicate, the one in which, for example, the word "key" cross-dresses as an adjective meaning "important", rather than playing its established role as a noun referring to something that is inserted into a lock. I don't know about you, but this sort of thing really gets the needle on my personal tosh-ometer twitching.
Toyota's tiny iQ is no exception. Its maker has identified two groups of buyers that have previously been beyond its reach, but which it thinks it can tap with its new baby: the slightly ghastly sounding Responsible Socialites and New Yuppies (just in case you hadn't guessed, "it is key for New Yuppies to express their individuality").
Anyway, you can safely ignore all that because the iQ itself is excellent; I am certain it will appeal to a wide range of car-buyers, including many Normal People like you and me. Quite remarkably, it squeezes four seats into a body that is only three metres long, and it does this without resorting to the rear-engined layout adopted by other small yet spacious cars such as the Mitsubishi i and the (two-seat) Smart fortwo. Instead, it uses front-wheel drive in conjunction with several clever, space-saving tweaks to steering, suspension, heating and other components.
The engine is a familiar friend – the lively one-litre, three-cylinder unit already used in the Aygo, updated so that it emits just 99g of CO2 per kilometre, which rises to 110g if the impressive Multidrive automatic transmission is chosen. On the road, the iQ's wide stance means it always feels well planted; its noise levels, ride comfort and motorway cruising ability match those of many larger cars. Prices start at a steepish £9,495 but the iQ compensates with high levels of finish and standard equipment.
So whether you are stepping down from something bigger and don't want to sacrifice too much in terms of comfort, or you've merely out-grown your Smart, the iQ could be the car for you.