As a modified city car, this modified Toyota IQ is a no brainer…
If the next generation of designers are so clever, why are there still hardly any tweakable city cars out there? I’m not talking about the likes of VW’s Up!, the Ford KA or the Fiat 500 – sure they’re quite small, modder-friendly and you can drive ‘em around a city. What I mean is the really tiny stuff, the sub-compacts, what the Yanks call the microcars.
They tend to get a bad rap. Here in the UK they’re often looked upon as offensive little snot-boxes more akin to your Nan’s mobility scooter than any sort of desirable motor. More a source of amusement than anything. And I don’t think that’s fair.
Personally, having driven around Paris, New York and Catford high street, I can see their appeal. Their manoeuvrability, ease of parking, low cost and sheer simplicity makes them something of a no brainer. It’s all down to application. There’s plenty of situations where you don’t need a huge tourer because you won’t be going all that far sandwiched
between a load of cyclists and the number 57 bus.
I guess my real problem is that I can only think of two modern microcars I’d ever consider paying my own money for – the Smart, which was inspired by a customisable plastic watch, and the kei car from the land that invented uber urban overcrowding – the Toyota IQ.
There is of course the G-Wiz but even the eco-mentalists don’t want those, or the Tata Nano which you’ve probably never heard of but, trust me, you’d sooner have a poke in the eye. So the Smart or the IQ it is, and it’s not exactly a hard choice between the two.
Now, to be fair to the Germans, if I was a proper ‘automotive journalist’ I’d say the Mercedes engineers, have made it a good little motor. But as for whether it’s cool or not, I think the jury’s still out. I’m not entirely sure it can be, even the Brabus version has strange proportions. Plus it’s only got two seats so it’s hard to call it practical.
Personally I’d go for the 4-seater every time but then I’ve always had a closet soft spot for the tiniest of Toyotas. I’m not the only one either – anyone remember the Cygnet? In 2011 the bods at Aston Martin re-badged a batch of IQs and sold them for 3-times the price as a clever way of getting around the European fleet average emissions laws. 30-grand for an IQ? Suffice to say they didn’t flog many, but I don’t think that was the point.
The IQ isn’t as slow as most people imagine either. Considering they weigh as much as a can of sugar free Red Bull, the 1-litre has nearly 70bhp. There’s a 1.33 VVT-i version with 97bhp too – and that’s a bit like putting a stick of dynamite in a food blender. The most important thing though is the way they’re styled, the IQ is actually proportioned to resemble a real car, albeit the sort you draw as a toddler and your dad sticks on the fridge. It also screams fun – you’ve got to be a pretty depressed individual not to raise a smile when you see one of these tooling past. And that’s what Carden Mizzi’s Toyota is all about.
Now, there’s no denying this particular IQ is one of the simplest modified motors we’ve ever had in Fast Car. It’s just a gnat’s bollock short of standard but that only reflects the ethos of what these cars are all about.
And that’s just speaking for the end result, the DIY build was actually far from simple because 5-different sets of wheels, along with numerous suspension and tyre combinations, have been tested to get this perfect stance.
With Carden being one of Malta’s very few professional wrappers, we wouldn’t be surprised if the colour had been changed quite a few times too – and he’s only had the thing for the last 6-months.
The reason Carden chose the comically small ride he calls ‘Cup Cake’ becomes clear when you realise where he works. The Maltese capital, Valletta is one of those historical 16th-Century cities that wasn’t exactly designed with motoring in mind. The narrow, Baroque architecture–lined streets make Central London seem like a free-flowing motorway. It’s a case of go small or go home, so the IQ was an intelligent choice, a genuine problem solver. What’s equally intelligent too is the inspiration behind the build.
You see, being a Mediterranean island, Malta has a relatively closed modifying community. It’s true there are a lot of tweaked cars but they all tend to gain inspiration from within the country. Generally speaking, the Maltese have their own style and rarely care what’s being done on the other side of the ocean. But Carden’s IQ is different, it’s directly influenced by the scene here in the UK, Germany and Japan and that makes him something of a national pioneer.
Above all, it’s exactly as fun as this sort of car should be. That goes for everything from the colour, to the handling, to the massive sub that lives on the back seat because it just won’t fit in the boot. You can’t help smiling every time you see it – especially as you imagine it whizzing around a genuine World Heritage Site every day.
It does make me question why we don’t see more modified microcars in our own busy cities though. With such simplicity I’m genuinely surprised that this sort of stuff isn’t massively popular over here too…
OWNER: CARDEN MIZZI
￼TECH SPEC: MODIFIED TOYOTA IQ
8×16-inch 3SDM 0.05 alloys, Falken 195/45×16 tyres, BC coilovers
Tinted front and rear lights, LED headlight conversion, Avery Dennison SWF Turquoise satin matt finish wrap, satin black badges, stainless steel exhaust
Kenwood headunit, Focal components and coaxial speakers, Ground Zero 12-inch sub and amp
Carden Automotive Art
Words Midge Photos Christoper Wallbank