Is the 2012 Scion iQ the ‘Smart’ Choice?

Images courtesy Scion

Move over smart car, Scion is taking over the micro-subcompact car segment with its iQ.

The new Scion iQ is being touted as the world’s smallest four-seater and adds yet another model to the funky spinoff division of Toyota.

I had been looking forward to testing this new little urban go-kart. I find its design much more appealing than Daimler’s smartfortwo U.S. model and its onroad experience is light years ahead of the smart car.

But I do have two requests for Scion in the iQ: First, please stop calling this a four-seater – it ain’t. A third occupant maybe could fit semi-comfortably but I would not want anyone to have to attempt to ride behind the driver, not even on a dare.

Second: Please add seat height adjustment to the driver’s seat or remove the grab handle from above the driver’s window. Every time I turn my head I hit that dang thing – it’s just right there in the wrong spot for comfort. Allow me to lower the seat or get rid of the handle. (And just why the heck did you add an “oh Jesus!” handle to the driver’s side anyway? Shouldn’t both my hands be on the steering wheel?)

The new Scion iQ is only 10 feet long, making it perfect for congested urban driving and parking. It is powered by a peppy 94hp 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine that is backed by a CVT gearbox that, together, make for surprising acceleration from this little sprite.

The vehicle is designed as a three-door hatchback and ours features comfortable (albeit high) buckets up front and a bench with split-folding seatbacks in the rear. With the rear seat upright it takes away just about all storage space in the rear. Honestly, I would have instead gone with a fixed cargo deck and called this duck a duck.

Another surprise is how quiet the iQ operates on the road – until you roll into the throttle, then the engine reminds you of its tiny yet powerful size.

One would think that given its tiny footprint and small engine size the new Scion iQ would boast some of the best fuel economy figures for a gasoline-powered vehicle and around town it is pretty darn good at 36 mpg but its 37 mpg rating on the highway is nothing to boast about. Again, iQ is better suited for urban duties.

The car is easy to drive, is awesomely maneuverable (thanks to its short wheelbase and electric power steering) but suffers just a bit from the fore-aft pitching seen in such short vehicles. For some however, this rocking motion may help lull your rear passengers to sleep in hopes they will quickly forget just how uncomfortable they are back there.

Scion calls iQ’s styling “iconic” – I think I would simply state it as modern urban and functional and there is only so much a designer can do given these interior and exterior dimensions.

As a two-seater, the iQ feels much larger than it is from the front seats. And the infotainment center stack seems more like a built-in robot with a flattop. I love the adjustable interior lighting, I just wish Scion could have extended it to some lights underneath the car or something.

Where the smart car scared the dickens out of me when operating on the highway the iQ does not. Sure it is still no match for a big rig but at least there is enough pep to get me the heck out of the way without having to stick my leg out the door to help pedal.

Pricing for the Scion iQ begins at $15,265. Our test vehicle did not come with a copy of the window sticker as they usually do so we don’t have final pricing, but delivery, processing and handling runs an added $730.

The 2012 Scion iQ is fun and funky and the perfect choice for urban lifestyles of (very) small families or individuals. And I cannot wait to see what Scion fanatics do to customize this one.

Categories: Autos, Reviews

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1 reply

  1. I wish Toyota would release the GRMN version of this car in the USA, which adds a supercharger for 128hp. It would make the car fly off the shelves, considering the market segment that the Scion brand is targeting.