2012 iQ New Car Test Drive
The latest addition to Toyota's younger, funkier brand is the pint-sized 2012 Scion IQ microcar. Scion, which boasts the youngest customer base in the industry, is hoping the IQ will be snatched up by hip, trend-setting city-dwellers seeking easy maneuverability and admirable fuel economy.
Although one would expect cars in this segment to be hopelessly cheap-looking, the Scion IQ does a decent job striking a balance between quality and economy. Bold exterior styling, consistent with the Scion brand, helps to fend off any would-be bullies. But let's be clear, you're not going to look macho driving down the road in a Scion IQ. But at least it won't look like you're piloting a rollerskate, either.
Powering the 2012 Scion IQ is a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes a modest 94 horsepower and 89 pound-feet of torque. A Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) kills some of the fun but, on the upside, helps to achieve an estimated 37 miles per gallon combined.
Sure, the car is tiny, but it doesn't feel that way inside. Several features enable the IQ to stay small without forcing occupants to feel like sardines. It's proportionately wider than other cars, allowing not only more space, but a greater sense of confidence on the road. In the cabin, that means an offset passenger seat along with thinner seat backs to give rear passengers more space. Under the hood, it's smaller, more compact components such as the front-mounted differential and air conditioning unit, as well as a high-mount steering rack with electronic power-steering. Underneath, a flat gas tank beneath the floor reduces rear overhang.
The 2012 Scion IQ's closest competitors appear to be the Smart ForTwo hatchback and the Fiat 500. Dimensions-wise, the 2012 Scion IQ sits in between the two (20 inches shorter than the Fiat, but 14 inches longer than the Smart). The IQ could even be considered an alternative to the Mini Cooper. And while the IQ's base price seems fair at around $16k compared to the latter, that's not a lot of car for the money. Pricing for all accessories is not yet available, but springing for navigation, upgraded audio and suspension enhancements skyrocket the IQ's sticker price to nearly $20k. So unless you live in a congested area and are specifically looking for a diminutive footprint to ease urban parking woes, you might get more bang for your buck with larger vehicles such as the Mazda2, all-new Hyundai Accent, Ford Fiesta or Honda Fit.
The 2012 Scion IQ ($15,265) comes in one trim level with air conditioning, cloth upholstery, power door locks, windows and outside mirrors, a leather-wrapped, tilt steering wheel with audio controls, 50/50 split folding rear seats, trip computer, leather-wrapped shift knob, 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.
Accessories include 16-inch alloy wheels, wheel locks, fog lights, body side moldings, mudguards, a rear spoiler and paint protection film. Toyota Racing Development offers TRD lowering springs and TRD anti-sway bars. Interior accessories include floor mats, cargo mat, cargo net and a seven-color interior light kit.
An optional 200-watt Pioneer premium audio system is available with a 5.8-inch LCD touch-screen display, Pandora live audio streaming, and six RCA outputs to add external amplifiers. The navigation system will get you the same audio setup with a seven-inch touch-screen LCD display.
Safety features standard on the 2012 Scion IQ include 11 airbags (driver- and front-passenger airbags; driver- and front-passenger seat-mounted side airbags; side curtain airbags; driver- and front-passenger knee airbags; driver- and front-passenger seat-cushion airbags; and a rear-window airbag, an industry first), antilock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, traction control, electronic stability control, and brake-override.