Sunday, February 15, 2009

Toyota iQ iQ2

picture of car from the front

Short front overhang highlights the iQ's compactness

Ratings

Overall Rating 9Overall rating

Value for money Rating 9Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 10Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 9Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Cheeky looks are appealing
  • Superb space efficiency throughout
  • Comfortable and easy to drive
  • Attractive cabin, well specified

Gripes

  • Not a car for all people at this price
  • More cabin colour choices would be welcome
  • Boot space is negligible with four people on board
  • No diesel option for UK

Toyota already has a strong reputation as a builder of excellent small cars, with the impressive Aygo and spacious Yaris in its range. However, it now has a third string to its bow with the introduction of the iQ, which it claims offers unique advantages in the small car segment due to its size and packaging.

In many respects the Toyota iQ follows the conventional layout for a small car. It has a small petrol engine mounted transversely in the front of the car, driving the front wheels through a manual or automatic gearbox. However, the difference in the iQ is in the details. At 2,985mm in length, it is currently the only car available less than three metres long that can accommodate four people in comfort.

The iQ achieves this through some remarkable packaging ideas, all of which contribute to maximising the interior space. Mechanically, alterations to the differential, steering mechanism and air conditioning unit allow the compact engine to be moved further forward, while the asymmetric dashboard means the front passenger seat can be moved much further forward, increasing rear passenger space.

The result of this space-saving initiative is that the iQ can fit four adults inside, although the seat behind the driver has the most restricted legroom. In four-seat configuration the boot space is understandably miniscule, but with three or two occupants there is a much more usable amount of storage space. Another huge benefit of the iQ's size is manoeuvrability: its turning radius of 3.9 metres is extremely compact.

Rather than a budget city car, the iQ is designed to be a second or third family car, and rather than being a stripped-out, low budget machine, it has many features expected of cars from a higher price bracket. All models have air-conditioning, remote central-locking and ESP as standard, while the higher grade iQ2 model adds items like climate control, keyless entry and start and automatic headlights and wipers.

Our verdict on the Toyota iQ iQ2

The Toyota iQ is a genuinely new kind of car, offering spectacular space efficiency and usability but with a distinct premium feel and strong equipment and luxury. In terms of pure pricing it is more expensive than some rivals, but in terms of what it offers and is capable of, it actually offers good value for money.

Costs
Costs rating 10

Although the initial purchase price may seem high, running costs are likely to be spectacularly low. Insurance costs will be very low indeed, while the 1.0-litre manual model is exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty thanks to its sub-100g/km emissions rating.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 9

The iQ does a remarkable job of offering lots of space in a compact silhouette. Those in the front seats are very well catered for, with excellent head and legroom - even elbowroom is better in iQ than in the bigger Yaris. In the back, taller adults may struggle a little for space, but most people will find sufficient room for long journeys.

picture of car from the rear

Unusual styling is best appreciated from the rear

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

The layout of the iQ is very impressive, as it shows some novel thinking in the pursuit of increased space. The instruments are attractive and easy to read, while the clever rotary air-con control combines the functions of several buttons and switches. The optional sat-nav system is also clear and easy to use.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 8

Comfort levels in the iQ are surprisingly good. Refinement is excellent, with impressively low noise levels. The ride quality is also surprisingly good considering the car's length and only the worst bumps get through to the cabin.

Car security
Security Rating 7

All models have locking nuts on their standard alloy wheels, remote central locking and an engine immobiliser as standard, which should offer sufficient security for a car of this nature.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

The iQ packs a remarkable nine airbags into its shell, including a world first rear curtain airbag, to protect passengers in the rear seat who are close to the car's extremities. The high safety specification including ESP on all models is a welcome sight.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 7

Anyone expecting the iQ to drive like a low-budget small car will be in for a surprise. From the driver's seat it feels like a much bigger car, with a good view out, an excellent driving position and smooth controls. Despite its modest output the 1.0-litre engine is keen and smooth and makes the iQ an enjoyable car to drive.

picture of car interior

Cabin shows a high level of quality

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 7

The iQ does have the ability to perform family duties, as long as the combination of four people and luggage is not a common one. Child seats can be installed in the rear, and children are bound to find the iQ more exciting to be in than a conventional family hatchback.

First car appeal
First car Rating 9

The iQ is possibly a little expensive for many first time buyers, but in respect of its dimensions and ease of driving it makes for a perfect first car.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 8

The iQ offers the kind of quality expected of a car in a bigger class: although it is close to Aygo in terms of size the cabin is closer to Auris or Avensis than anything else. The iQ's image is dominated by its unique design. This gives it strong appeal for the fashion-conscious and puts it outside of Toyota's normal appeal.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

The iQ may be small, but the large doors make it easy to get into the front seats. As for the rear, the fact that the passenger seats slides forward a long way makes access relatively easy, although passengers getting in from the other side have more of a squeeze.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The optional upgrade system on the iQ2 includes a connection for MP3 players and delivers very good sound quality, helped by the good refinement. The single joystick control mounted on the steering wheel is very simple and easy to use.

picture of car in detail

Clever design allows two seats in the rear

Colours and trim

The iQ's bold exterior shape benefits from stronger colours, looking especially attractive in white. Inside the iQ has a mix of greys and browns, which is attractive and unusual although its clever design would benefit from brighter hues. The quality of the trim itself is very good.

Parking

The iQ is at its best when it comes to parking thanks to the excellent visibility, tiny dimensions and large amounts of steering lock. Optional rear parking sensors make it easier still.

Spare wheel

A tyre repair kit is fitted as standard.

Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.0-litre (67bhp); 1.33-litre (100bhp). Transmission options: Five-speed manual gearbox, CVT automatic gearbox. Trim levels: iQ, iQ2

Monday, February 9, 2009

Proton MPV ..........

6ProtonMPV.jpg ProtonMPV-2.jpg_595.jpg ProtonMPVnoscoop.jpg

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

2009 Kia Borrego

An entirely different kettle of fish is KIA’s Borrego. This 7 seater SUV is remarkably good value assuming you know how to haggle. The one I had for test had a sticker price of 36 and a half thousand dollars but admittedly it included every conceivable extra such as a 2 position memory for driver’s seat-not exactly a must in this day and age.

With the industry being hammered and dealers going out of business right, left and centre I am sure you could get this 4.6 liter machine for under 30 thousand dollars.

For that you would get a great deal. Apart from the big and pretty thirsty engine (between 15 and 22 mpg) there is a fine 6-speed automatic suspension, front and rear disc brakes with ABS (which didn’t impress me too much), double wishbone suspension at the front and multi-link suspension at the rear.

As far as safety is concerned there seem to be airbags just about everywhere! Dual front, driver’s knee, 3 row side plus rollover sensors.

There can be no doubt that the Koreans have come an awfully long way during the last 10-15 years. Just like Toyota who were the butt of auto jokes 40 years ago so the Koreans are most definitely not to be laughed at either.

Nothing shows their confidence more than a 10years/100,000 miles warranty, far and away the best in the automobile industry.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

2010 Chevrolet Equinox

10s-equinox

The Chevy Equinox was first launched for 2005 as a low-priced compact five-passenger crossover SUV, with a useful MultiFlex rear seat that slides forward and back to optimize passenger space or cargo room. Clumsy road manners and some cut-rate interior materials prevented it from being a hit.

Chevrolet is redesigning the Equinox for 2010. The new model has an interior inspired by the successful Chevrolet Malibu. It shares its architecture, or basic structure, with the Saturn Vue, itself based on GM's German Opel Antara.

The 2010 Equinox has revised styling and two new powertrains, also. The new Equinox is about the same size as the outgoing model, but it has a more angular look and a sleeker profile. Moving the base of the windshield forward three inches makes it more sharply sloped, yielding a sportier look. Wheel sizes will include 17s, 18s, and 19s.

To address the interior, Chevrolet adds a dual-cockpit interior design inspired by the Chevrolet Malibu. However, where the Malibu uses many higher-quality soft-touch materials, the Vue will continue with many hard plastics. More standard and optional features will be available, though. OnStar assistance, XM satellite radio and blue-hued ambient lighting will be standard. Options will include Bluetooth connectivity, USB audio input jack, hard-drive radio, rear-seat DVD entertainment with two headrest-mounted screens. Chevrolet will also offer a class-exclusive power rear liftgate, a rearview camera that displays in the available navigation screen or rearview mirror, and a Smart remote starting system that will also activate the climate system and the optional heated seats depending on the outside temperature.

The MultiFlex rear seat will return. With eight inches of travel, the seat can be set all the way back to make rear passengers more comfortable, or fully forward for 31.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second-row seats. The 2010 Equinox's seats will also recline and fold down to open up 63.8 cubic feet of cargo space.

The 2010 Equinox will replace the previous model's 185-horsepower V6 with a revised version of GM's Ecotec four-cylinder as its base engine. The current Ecotec makes 164 horsepower and 160 pound-feet of torque in the 2009 Vue, but in the 2010 Equinox it will add direct injection technology, boosting horsepower to 182 and torque to 174 pound-feet. GM estimates fuel economy numbers of 21/30 mpg (city/hwy) with front-wheel drive and 20/27 with all-wheel drive, a 25-percent highway improvement over the outgoing 3.4-liter V6. GM expects two-thirds of customers to choose this engine, and it will be offered with any trim level.

Also available will be a new engine to the GM stable, a 3.0-liter, direct-injected V6. The new engine is a derivative of the 3.6-liter V6 that it replaces in the Equinox lineup. This engine will produce 255 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque, while delivering 18/25 mpg with front-wheel drive and 17/24 mpg with all-wheel drive. Both engines will be mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and the 3.0-liter V6 will also come with a manual shiftgate. There is no word yet if the Equinox will be offered with either of the Vue's two hybrid powertrains.

Chevrolet has announced that LS, LT and LTZ models will return, but has yet to reveal pricing. We expect the starting price to stay in line with the current model, which starts at about $24,000, but fully equipped models may range higher, possibly up to $37,000, due to the new options.

800-862-4389
www.gm.com/chevrolet