The Toyota iQ concept, unveiled today at the Frankfurt Motor Show, marks a step change in small car design, challenging conventional thinking by being small, yet spacious and high in premium quality features. It's an ultra-compact vehicle that achieves exceptional space efficiency and is perfectly tailored to the lifestyle needs and environmental concerns of Europe's modern metropolitans. The iQ concept was created at ED2, Toyota's European design studio in the South of France, following the principles of Toyota's ‘vibrant clarity' design philosophy – forward-looking, intelligent and energetic, with clarity of purpose and function.Wahei Hirai, Manager of Toyota Motor Corporation's design activities, explained: "The iQ concept is designed to reflect and enhance the lifestyle of its owners. In an urban environment, people want to express themselves through dynamic and on-the-edge design, but at the same time rational factors such as size, functionality and CO2 emissions cannot be ignored.

"Bringing these contradictory aims together in synergy was critical to the iQ concept, it's a way of thinking we call the ‘J-factor', a philosophy at the heart of all our activities."

Being two centimetres shy of three metres in length, the iQ concept takes a radical approach to vehicle packaging and design. It challenges the current limitations of ultra-compact urban transport by having a versatile interior that can accommodate three adults, plus luggage space or seating for a fourth, child passenger.

It reinforces Toyota's commitment to reducing vehicle emissions through innovative design, its small size helping address the problems caused by increased urban congestion.

2007 Toyota iQ concept

Design The iQ concept is designed to convey confidence and vibrancy in every aspect, giving it urban high fashion status. The exterior is simple, but the generous width of the vehicle gives a stable, robust stance. Viewed in profile, the ultra-short overhangs and cab-forward silhouette create a dynamic look, while ensuring maximum usable space is gained in the cabin.

The structures around the 17-inch tyres form part of the minimal overhangs, adding to the sense of strength and agility. Inside, the instrument panel has a simple geometric form that contributes to the overall open feel of the interior, while the centre console flows in a manta ray-shape – complete with chrome finished ‘tail' – around the instruments to create a vivid central feature, a freeform shape that is echoed in the soft-touch door trims.

Overall, the iQ concept has an ‘on-the-edge' style, expressed in elements such as the purple shimmer in its pearlescent white paint finish, mock snakeskin steering wheel trim and purple accents in the seats, door trims and dashboard.

Compact, not compromised The iQ is the world's smallest four-seat passenger concept car. At 2,980mm long, it is 425mm shorter than Aygo, but comparable to Yaris in width and height (1,680 x 1,480mm).

It has seating for three adults plus a child, with the option of using the fourth seat for luggage space. In regular use, driver and passenger sit side by side, but by sliding the passenger seat further forwards makes room for an extra adult and child in the rear.

Intelligent space-saving design and miniaturised technology help free up interior space, for example the ultra-compact heating unit that takes up less room in the centre console. A single central dial displays the interior temperature and ventilation controls, directly in the driver's eyeline, with a three-dimensional three-in-one speed, rpm and fuel level read-out mounted above the steering column. Audio and navigation controls are integrated into the steering wheel, with the route-finding information projected in a head-up display.

The panoramic glass sunroof adds to the light and open feel of the cabin, while at night the interior has a darker, more mysterious ambience, adding to the iQ concept's high fashion quality.

The small size has required no compromise in safety standards, with a strong passenger compartment safety cell that ensures optimum impact energy absorption.

In presenting the iQ concept, Toyota reveals an intelligent new design and technology package, a radical solution to the challenge of personal urban transport.