There’s a nice article at the Torque Report about the Toyota iQ, which hits the road next fall. In a bit of national pride, Toyota based the design on the ‘J-Factor’, “that aspect of Japanese originality and quality that creates modern, attractive, and globally appealing products from the apparent disharmony and contradictory nature of its original components.” Toyota developed six major technical innovations to develop a car less than 3 meters with great drivability and comfortable seating for three adults and a child.
I’ve long noticed the difference in priorities between US and Japanese car manufacturers. The Corolla and Civic were designed by people who are passionate about small cars — they’re small on the outside but big on the inside. The Chevy Cobalt, on the other hand, seems to be designed by people who think that driving a small car is like wearing a hair shirt, and even likable vehicles like the Dodge Caliber and Buick Lacrosse seem quite puffy: oddly small on the outside for the large exterior.
With gas at $3.40 a gallon and heading up, we can only hope that American carmakers will focus innovation on fuel efficiency and appealing small cars rather than gimmicks such as OnStar and ultrasonic sensors to keep you from mashing the back wall of your garage with an oversized vehicle.