2012 Scion IQ
Date Posted: February 9, 2012
By Zack Spencer
Scion enters the micro car market with this little IQ, the most fuel efficient car on the road in Canada. Look out Smart car, there is a slightly bigger micro car on the road.
The micro car market in Canada is-- pardon the pun--really small. The Smart Car, until recently, was the only player but now there is the Fiat 500 and this Scion IQ. The IQ and Smart car have many similarities, they look like they could be cousins, plus they offer the tidiest dimensions on the road. For those that are not aware, Scion is the youth-targeted brand of Toyota, complete with there own separate showrooms inside Toyota dealerships. By appealing to younger buyers, Toyota hopes that these new customers will then move up the ladder into a Toyota and maybe one day a Lexus. Brand loyalty is huge in the car business, once a buyer is happy with a certain brand, they are more than likely to be repeat buyers. So a very small car can be a big deal.
It should be pointed out that the Scion IQ is larger than the Smart Car, especially the width. Inside the Smart, the driver and passenger sit close together; this IQ on the other hand is basically the same width as a subcompact car. So even though it is short, the car has a stance. The front bumper is wide and flat and the rear hatch is very square as well. The doors are surprisingly big, plus the roof is tall allowing excellent access to the cabin. Looking at the IQ, it is hard to imagine, but there are actually back seats, but it's true. When the rear hatch is open the back seat fills all but a small, thin cargo space, so most people will fold the seats and use this rear area for cargo. The IQ is only sold with one trim level at $16,760 but for this price the car should have alloy wheels, not the cheap looking hubcaps.
As mentioned, the width of the IQ is one of main distinguishing features and one that makes the interior pleasurable. The passenger and driver have plenty of room side-to-side and front seat legroom and headroom is surprising roomy, there is no clue that the car is so tiny. The rear seats have almost no legroom when the front seats are in there normal position. In order to accommodate rear seat passengers the front seats need to be shifted forward, which is fine for the passenger due to the ample front seat space, but for the driver this compromises the driving position. At the end of the day, the Scion might better be described as a three seat car, with a forth in a real pinch. The rest of the interior is well appointed and showcases a balance of materials and colours. There are black gloss panels, next to soft touch greys, silver highlights and chrome. The radio has a high centre location and a separate Bluetooth system is located next to the shifter.
In order to make room for the back seats the thin fuel tank has been moved forward, beneath the front seats. At only 32 liters, it is sized for the efficiency of the motor. Using a 94hp 1.4L 4-cylinder, matched to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the IQ is the thriftiest non-hybrid model on the road; rated at 5.5L/100km in the city and just 4.6L on the highway. It would be easy to assume that a small engine and CVT would be a bit of a letdown in the performance arena but that isn't the case. The transmission is responsive and the small IQ moves easily in traffic and can cruise on the highway. It is a much more pleasurable car to drive than the Smart, and most of this is due to the CVT and wider wheel stance. In the Smart, their 5-speed automatic is very jerky and the choppiness of the ride always reminds the passengers of the tiny dimension, not the case in the IQ.
At almost $17,000, the IQ competes closely with the ''Passion'' trim level in the Smart Car lineup. Even though the IQ comes with power windows, power door locks, air conditioning, Bluetooth, Satellite radio, and steering wheel mounted radio controls, the real competition for any buyer's money will be some very good subcompact cars. Products like the Kia Rio, Hyundai Accent, Ford Fiesta and Nissan Versa to name a few. These cars often have a lower starting point; they have more power, bigger back seats and much more cargo capacity. The IQ is appealing to a much smaller market. Next time you drive around, have a look at all the Smart Cars on the road. Most of them feature business logos down the side or are used in car sharing, there are not that many purchased by individuals. If however you are in the market for a micro car, for yourself or business, the very well IQ is the best micro car on the market.
The Good, The Bad
Excellent fit and finish for such a small car
At almost $17,000, there are plenty of larger alternatives.
Power: 1.3L 4-cylinder with 94hp
Fill-up: 5.5L/4.6L/100km (city/highway auto)
Sticker price: $16,760