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How the iQ Car Works

iQ Car Specs
Rumors about Toyota partnering with Yamaha on the iQ suggest the minicar will come equipped with a motorcycle engine.
Rumors about Toyota partnering with Yamaha on the iQ suggest the minicar will come equipped with a motorcycle engine.
John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

The iQ Car concept came to life at ED2, Toyota's European design facility in Nice, France, and debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2007. One of the first things people usually wonder about a minicar is what kind of engine powers it. Is it a gasoline engine? Is it a hybrid? Is it a pure electric car?

­T­he iQ appears to have none of the above. Since it's still technically a concept at this point, not much is known about what's under the iQ's hood, but rumors suggest that Toyota is partnering with Yamaha to make a 1-liter motorcycle engine. Although the company hasn't released any further information regarding engine capacity or the number of cylinders, a motorcycle engine may translate to good gas mileage if the iQ's weight is kept low. Still, the two companies may end up unveiling something completely different by the time 2008 comes to an end.

So how does Toyota manage to fit three adults and one small child into such a small car? The tires of the iQ are pushed out to the corners and shrunken down to a very low 17 inches, leaving more room for your feet. Initially, the car seems like any other two-seater minicar, but sliding the front seats forward offers two more seats, one for an adult and another for a child. Since the steering wheel doesn't allow the driver's seat to move forward, a small child is able to fit behind the driver, but there's enough room on the passenger side to fit one adult in front and another right behind after adjusting the seat.

Toyota didn't just stop at seating arrangements when managing space. You might not think about it too much, but all the knobs, buttons and gadgets on a car's front console can take up a lot of room. The iQ has all of these technological necessities, but everything's been miniaturized or moved to the steering wheel. Instead of having three separate indicators for speed, rpm and fuel level, a single read-out displays them all together right above the steering column. While audio and navigation controls usually take up most of a center console, those choices are put in the driver's hands as they're moved over to the steering wheel.

Although Toyota is keeping most of the iQ's technology under wraps for the moment, one thing's for sure -- if Toyota can manage space this efficiently in a car, we definitely want the company rearranging our messy refrigerators.

The iQ might be cool on the side, but do minicars also equal less traffic congestion?