Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

It’s a small city car so you may think Toyota IQ performance will not impress but it is surprisingly agile and can be quick away from the lights. There are two petrol engines to consider.

Petrol engines

There’s a straight choice with the iQ between the lower two trim levels with their thrummy three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol and the more powerful 1.3-litre petrol four-cylinder motor in the upscale 3 trim.

The 67bhp 1.0-litre engine may not cut the mustard on the motorway for long spells, but it’s nippy away from the traffic lights and darts well through busy built-up areas. It takes just under 15 seconds to reach 62mph – which is fairly slow – though few drivers will need to sprint from a standstill to the limit very often.

In July 2009 a 1.33-litre petrol was introduced which produces 98bhp and returns 58.9mpg. It’s noticeably nippier too with a 0-62mph time of 11.8 seconds.

The five-speed manual gearbox is a little notchy and it can be awkward to select the correct gear in a hurry. Those prepared to pay extra for the greater convenience should go for automatic Multidrive transmission, costing around £1,000 more.

Manual gearbox best for economy

While the choice of engines is between only two petrol units, there is also a choice of straightforward manual or Multidrive automatic gearboxes to consider. For some, the decision will be simple, but it has to be remembered the automatic pushes up fuel consumption and emissions.

For the 1.0-litre engine, the auto takes economy and emissions from 64.2mpg and 99g/km to 58.9mpg and 110g/km. Not great leaps, but for those living in London it makes the difference between being exempt from the Congestion Charge and having to pay it every day.

As for the 1.3-litre engine, it uses more fuel than the 1.0-litre in manual form at 57.6mpg and 113g/km CO2 emissions are higher, while the Multidrive auto version goes further with 54.3mpg and 120g/km to be no better than many cheaper superminis with greater practicality.

Parkers recommends

The Multidrive automatic gearbox addresses the slightly notchy feel of the manual transmission, but we’d put up with the manual and choose a 1.0-litre iQ for its economy and emissions.

At less than three metres long, the iQ really sparkles in the city and the main upshot of its small proportions is a low centre of gravity giving it superb agility. The small Toyota cuts through daunting town traffic with a composure usually enjoyed by bigger cars, while the suspension softens rough roads well.

All four wheels are located far apart for a more sure-footed stance and the iQ boasts a turning circle tidier than the smaller Smart Fortwo – perfect for tricky manoeuvres in congested streets and car parks.

It also comes with a Stop & Start system which saves fuel by automatically cutting the engine in traffic and then instantly restarting it when moving off.