Last February, TheCarConnection.com’s Marty Padgett reported on the debut of Toyota’s latest micro car offering, the Toyota iQ. The first concept of the iQ was shown at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show; by the time the 2008 Geneva Motor Show came around only “small” details had surfaced about the car. It was suspected, and later confirmed, that iQ would be powered by a 1.0-liter three-cylinder gasoline powered engine. Now, at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, Toyota is introducing the newest iQ model that will be powered by a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine. Interestingly enough, the four-cylinder engine will get an estimated 4 more mpg than the out going 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine, sipping fuel at an economical 59 mpg. The increase in gas mileage is largely credited to Toyota’s VVT-I and stop and start technology.

The iQ is perfectly situated to capitalize on the Smart ForTwo’s niche market, except it can do one…er two better than the Smart-- it can seat four. The 2010 Toyota iQ is 117.5” in length and 66.1” in width, which makes it almost a foot longer than the Smart ForTwo. Given the difference in passenger capacity, what is a foot among friends right?

2007 Toyota IQ Concept

2007 Toyota IQ Concept

So it has gas mileage, it has size, but will Toyota bring the iQ to the U.S.? Well, according to Reuters, the Senior Vice President of Operations at Toyota said that the company is contemplating bringing the iQ to the U.S. market. Since the 2010 Toyota iQ is smaller than the Toyota Yaris subcompact and similar in size to the Smart, it makes sense to bring some competition to the micro car market. And speaking of competition, Toyota isn’t the only auto manufacturer considering new micro vehicles. Our partners over at TheCarConnection.com claimed earlier this month that Hyundai may be developing its own “green baby vehicle” (read more here).

All the signs seem to point to the iQ being the next hit in the U.S. market, so why is Toyota still unable to commit? Reuters believes this is most likely due to the fact that Toyota has seen a 15% drop in sales during 2008 and that the company is carrying a lot more inventory than normal. These factors together have already lead to cuts in production of both the Toyota Camry and Corolla models, as well as, suspension of work on its new plant in Mississippi. Given the current U.S. economy, it is understandable that Toyota is hesitant, but if any market is going to grow it is going to be the small and micro car markets. I say, “Bring on the iQ!”

Stay tuned to allsmallcars.com for more newsphotospricing and more on the Toyota iQ and other “small” cars.

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