Toyota developed their younger brand Scion to bring out new vehicles like the Scion iQ. In a brilliant marketing move ten years ago, Toyota founded the Scion brand to appeal to Gen Y consumers and now to the Millennial generation. Scion, who boasts the youngest customer base in the industry, has been very successful with younger buyers with their unconventional styling. And now Scion has moved into the microcar segment with the all-new iQ 3-door Liftback.
The Scion iQ will appeal to young city-dwellers who are looking for a fuel-efficient small maneuverable commuter car. The Scion iQ isn’t the first brand to build a microcar and has the Smart ForTwo hatchback and the Fiat 500 as competitors. The 2012 Scion iQ is somewhere in the middle between the two in size at 20 inches shorter than the Fiat, but 14 inches longer than the Smart. The iQ has an interesting styling and architecture that neither of its competitors shares.
Not your average microcar
Yes, the iQ is tiny, but there are several features that allow the little hatchback to remain small without forcing the occupants to feel like they are riding on top of a rollerskate. The 2012 Scion iQ is proportionately wider than other cars. This does two important things; it allows for more interior space, and it gives greater stability on the road. Those two things give the iQ an advantage over the competition.
Toyota engineers were also able to give the microcar from Scion some unique space-saving design components to aid in the Scions roomy cabin. They were able to build a smaller front-mounted differential and air conditioning unit, as well as a high-mount steering rack with electronic power-steering. And the development of a flat gas tank that fits beneath the floor reduces rear overhang.
The cabin has a larger feel
Inside the cabin, the driver and passenger have a feeling of roominess not found in the other microcars. Behind the wheel, the Scion iQ gives the driver a feeling of being in a compact car, not a microcar. If you don’t turn around and look in the back, you don’t feel cramped for space. The wide stance and full-size doors make the iQ feel bigger than it looks on the outside. Scion tells us the space between the front seats is larger than that of Toyota’s Yaris or Corolla models.
But the backseat is really nothing more than a cargo area of 16.7 cubic feet with the rear seats flat. Even with the rear seats up, small children would be hard pressed to take a trip longer than a few miles. But for someone who doesn’t carry more than one passenger, the iQ will haul two people and their luggage just fine.
The 2012 Scion IQ ($15,265) comes well equipped with air conditioning, cloth seats, full power, a leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with audio controls, 50/50 split folding rear seats, Bluetooth handsfree phone system and a four-speaker, 160-watt Pioneer audio system with HD radio, single MP3/WMA CD player, USB and auxiliary audio ports. TRD offers some sporty extras like performance springs and TRD anti-sway bars.
Fuel-efficient and peppy
Under the hood, the iQ is powered by a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes a modest 94 horsepower and 89 pound-feet of torque. But because the iQ only weights 2127 pounds, the little microcar has a surprising amount of power. The 1.3-liter engine is mated to a CVT automatic transmission that isn’t much fun, but helps achieve the 36/37 city/highway fuel mileage. The only complaint we have with the Scion iQ is that it needs a manual transmission option.
We drove the 2012 Scion IQ equipped with the TRD suspension goodies, and the wider track kept the IQ feeling stable, even at high speeds. Acceleration is surprisingly peppy for only having 94 horsepower even when carrying two people. Where the small microcar shines is zipping in and out of traffic in the city. Sharp steering and a tiny turning radius of only 13 feet make for some fun maneuvers in parking lots and easy navigation through narrow city streets.
For that city-dweller seeking fuel-efficiency, easy maneuverability, and doesn’t need to carry more than one passenger, the iQ is a well-designed small commuter car.