Scion iQ
Scion iQ

The iQ from Scion is yet another micro sub-compact that has popped up on our streets. The iQ is an expression of the New Urbanism. This minimalist viewpoint holds that a car, a dwelling etc. should be no bigger than it has to be. That means that if you’re a city dweller and that’s where you spend your time, the iQ makes perfect sense and is optimized for that environment.

If you’re on the freeway hours a day, then you may want to think carefully before you buy this car. As one of the Toyota reps at the press launch noted, if you are a freeway person, why not just buy a Corolla? Good point.

So how small is the iQ? It’s really small. It’s bigger and more substantial than a Smart car, about the same as the Fiat 500 but smaller than a Mini Cooper. The car is 305 centimetres long and weighs only 965 kg. It’s the world’s smallest 4-seater. From the driver’s seat, it looks and feels like any other compact car because of an optical illusion and the way that your mind plays tricks on you. The illusion fades into incredulity when you drive by a large plate glass window and see the car reflected in it. You look where you’re sitting and the interior space around you…then you look at the reflection in the window…the interior again…then the reflection again. Pretty soon the reality of its petite dimensions sink in and you become a more defensive driver.

The iQ follows the Toyota tradition of being well-designed and well-built. Under the skin, the car is rock solid and has an impressive body structure. It comes standard with 11 airbags. We couldn’t even guess where to put 11 airbags in this vehicle but upon inspection, they were all present and accounted for. New locations include a rear window bag and two in the front seat bottoms to guard against passengers submarining (sliding forward under the seatbelts).

The iQ is a 2-door with a hatch and seats four. It is powered by a thoroughly modern 1.3 litre 4-cylinder gasoline engine connected to a CVT gearless automatic transmission. The car has adequate power and will breeze down the highway quite comfortably. It has rated fuel economy rating of 5.1 L/100 km combined, which Scion claims is the highest of any non-hybrid vehicle. The car handles and rides very well for its size. It feels substantial, like a “real” car.

Though minimalist by design and mono-spec like all Scions, the car does offer some upgrades plus many dealer installed options. For example, three audio packages are available, as well as a navigation system, a variety of wheels and several eye-catching colours.

The iQ has all the great engineering and build quality of other Scion and Toyota products. The car has been distilled down to the essential elements that urban dwellers value. The starting price of $17,070 seems fair for this high-quality, high-efficiency premium micro compact.

Starting price is about $17,000.

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