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No need for high IQ to drive the new iQ

TOYOTA'S new tiny car doesn't boast any state-of-the-art hybrid or plug-in technology.

But the iQ has plenty else packed into a diminutive frame that blends stylish curves with safety, fuel efficiency and smooth handling.

The iQ at less than 3 meters long is smaller than Toyota Motor Corp's Yaris subcompact. It is being shown as a Scion model, which targets younger buyers, at the New York International Auto Show, opening to the public tomorrow. It went on sale in November in Japan, earlier this year in Europe, and is being considered for the United States market.

The boxlike yet curvy "premium four-seater" encapsulates Toyota's strategic ambitions to woo buyers of European models like German Daimler AG's Smart two-seater. It is also an attempt to engineer bigger profits from usually cheap small cars.

The iQ starts at 1.4 million yen (US$14,000) in Japan, about 330,000 yen more than the Vitz subcompact - the Japanese market branding for the Yaris - and targets urban drivers who park and scoot around in tight spaces.

It fits three adults plus a child, dog or luggage, and gets 23 kilometers a liter, about 54 miles per gallon. Overseas mileage numbers will vary. A Camry gets about 31 mpg.

"We've explored all the possibilities of smallness. With this car, making a U-turn gets to be a true joy," said Hiroki Nakajima, chief engineer for the iQ project.


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