Tony O'Kane | Nov 18, 2008

The votes have been tallied and the results are in. Japan's automotive journalists have spoken, and the Japanese Car of the Year is not the mighty GT-R, the razor-sharp Evolution X or even the Lexus IS-F. Nope, all of the above were pipped at the post by Toyota's tiny iQ city car, a 2985mm-long four-seater that's only been on sale in Japan for about a month.

The diminutive iQ won favour among the 65 jurors, with 39 of them awarding the Toyota a perfect 10. With a total of 526 votes the iQ ended up over 300 points ahead of the second place-getter, the Citroen C5, while the Nissan GT-R scored only 201 votes and finished up with the bronze medal.

The Audi A4, Jaguar XF, Fiat 500 and Mazda 6 (or Atenza, as it's known in Japan) also snuck into the top 10, while the Subaru Exiga seven-seater wagon inexplicably beat the GT-R for the title of "Most Fun".

Toy_iQ_02

It's a big win for Toyota, and one that also shows a shift in attitudes towards cars in general. The iQ is the first car of its size to win the prestigious award, and with its compact footprint, thrifty 1.0-litre engine and efficient CVT gearbox, the iQ heralds a new generation of low-impact, low-mass cars. With space for three adults and a child it's also a miracle of packaging too, while its nine airbags and strong crash performance show that safety isn't always directly proportional to size.

It's the perfect blueprint for the city car of the future, and a sign that guilt-free commuting can be achieved without having to resort to hybrid technology. The iQ will go on sale in small-car-friendly Europe next year, however an Australian release has yet to be confirmed. What say you? Is the iQ a car that would work in Australia, or is it just another quirky Japanese kei car?

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