iQ over Smarts?
The 2012 Scion iQ
by Giorgio Cerboncini
A bit of
Toyota knew well in advance that youth would comprise a sizable chunk of
new car buyers in the future. That was the reason for the creation of
Scion, Toyota’s youth brand. And while their original projection of 60
million new car buyers entering the market by 2010 has not quite panned
out, a significant number of new buyers have entered Toyota showrooms
that would have otherwise never considered the purchase one of their
To the Chase
a two-car lineup in 2003, Scion today has expanded to include five
different models. One of their latest is the iQ, a micro car designed to
take a chunk of the market occupied by brands like Mini, Smart and FIAT.
the outside it looks larger than it appears, thanks to its wide stance,
offsetting its vertical projection. It looks good from any angle,
though. Speaking of looks, they mostly came from young people. The few
older folk who actually looked at the car did so with puzzlement, as if
thinking “who fits in there?”
the answer to that is surprising, because its wide stance allows plenty
of elbow room, much more than in the Smart, its closest competitor.
Powered by a 1.3 liter 4-cylinder engine, the iQ moves competently, plus
its CVT transmission provides a smother shifting transition than the
arrangement found in the Smart, which is difficult to drive smoothly.
The short wheelbase makes for a “darty” ride, but it more than makes up
for it in the ease with which it can be handled. It’s one of those
point-and-go rides, with very little body roll from the suspension.
Being a youth brand, youth stuff comes standard, like the
AM/FM/CD/HD/USB 160-watt Pioneer audio system, along with Bluetooth
connectivity, streaming audio, iPod and USB connectivity, a subwoofer
and an RCA output. Oh yes, it also counts 11 airbags, for added safety,
as well as ABS, EBD, BA, TRAC,
VSC, and Smart Stop Technology brake-override. A tire-pressure
monitoring system is also standard equipment. Go to www.scion.com for a
quick brief on the meaning of all those abbreviations.
The iQ is billed as the world’s smallest four passenger car. Think of
that claim in the same way that you take the EPA figures for gas
consumption with a grain of salt: it can happen, but in all likelihood
and for all practical purposes it won’t, as leg room space in the front
is compromised to allow leg room for the rear occupants. Suffice to say
that two early teens found it cramped back there.
The iQ represents yet another Scion attempt to gather as much of that
potential 60-million potential as they can. Their expanding product
portfolio certainly is a step in that direction, and the $15,995 MSRP
(including destination) makes it an attractive alternative to the Smart,
especially because it has that space back there where one more person
can fit sideways, even if he or she has to carry the grocery bags.