The three-cylinder mill under our test car's short hood has a... let's say "decent" potential on tiny cars. For a gasoline engine it uses quite a small amount of fuel and, albeit it doesn't go like stink, it has sufficient performance. Of course, everything we just said about this engine is only true if it's not paired to a rubber-band CVT transmission in a Toyota iQ.
If that happens you can probably say goodbye to a great in-city fuel consumption and/or decent performance. You see, the very same engine is also used by the slightly larger Toyota Aygo/Citroen C1/Peugeot 107 trio and by the much bigger Toyota Yaris. On which of these cars would you guess that the engine behaves the best? If you guessed the petite iQ, you'd be dead wrong.
Strangely-enough in the iQ it feels as gutless as in the much larger Yaris, while the fuel economy is even worse when talking about driving in a crowded city. We suspect this happens for two reasons. First of all, though extremely small, the iQ is no featherweight automobile at 935 kilograms (2061 pounds). While it obviously doesn't actually sound very ponderous, it's almost as heavy as the much larger Yaris, and the class-leading drag coefficient of only 0.30 doesn't help it that much at city speeds.
Second of all, as we mentioned before, in our test car the engine was paired to a CVT, which is all fun and games when it comes to comfort but a total pain in the butt when talking about performance, be it acceleration or fuel economy. The CVT is an impressive piece of technology in theory, but in practice so far it has failed to deliver. Continue reading