Seattle, Washington – Scion’s latest entry into the marketplace is the premium Micro-subcompact IQ. They claim that it is the world’s smallest four-seat production automobile. The IQ becomes the fourth vehicle to join the Scion family, and it is hoped that it will define the premium micro-subcompact segment and become the choice of urbanites who want innovative and unique transportation without sacrificing style, functionality or comfort, not to mention many new features. The IQ was designed to provide a level of versatility and comfort in a small vehicle that consumers have come to expect from a car twice its size.
In order to achieve its small footprint, the IQ development team relied on an intelligent design approach, rather than sacrificing either feature content or comfort. IQ’s small size was attained by employing six basic engineering innovations that deliver a large dose of capability. First was a compact front-mounted differential, followed by a high-mount steering rack with electronic power steering. Next came a compact air-conditioning unit – all of which contributed to a significant decrease in front end length. Additionally, the IQ is fitted with a flat gas tank housed beneath the floor, thereby reducing rear overhang. Slim back front seats maximize rear leg room along with an innovative seating configuration – a “3+1” offset arrangement that allows one adult to sit behind the front passenger, while a child or small package may be positioned behind the driver. The rear seats feature a 50/50 split, and may be folded flat.
For a sense of comparison, the four-seat IQ is powered by a 1.3-liter four-cylinder with Dual VVT-I and electronic fuel injection. That produces 94-horsepower at 6,000 rpm along with 89 pound feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. It mates to a CVT-I automatic transmission that delivers motive force to the front wheels. The smart fortwo draws its power from a 1.0-liter three cylinder engine mounted in the rear. It delivers 24 less horsepower and 21 pound feet less torque. Power is geared to the rear wheels via a somewhat quirky automated manual transmission with a single-plate dry clutch. The IQ features a 5.2-inch longer wheelbase and an additional 14-inches in overall length and weighs 275 pounds more than the smart fortwo. In terms of price, the IQ has the advantage as well, costing roughly $3,500 less. The IQ garners a combined EPA fuel economy of 37 mpg and is rated as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV-II).
In profile, the Scion IQ displays a pronounced high running beltline that slopes from the large bold headlamps, up through the A-pillar, across the roof and wrapping around the rear, showcasing the overall geometric form. Trapezoidal lines characterize the rear end, running toward the wheels, from the hatch to the rear bumper’s diffuser-like accent. And, despite the IQ’s minimal length, it has a 66.1-inch wide stance that results in larger car handling characteristics.
Moving to the interior, the IQ offers as standard, a leather wrapped steering wheel with red stitching and a flat bottom for more thigh clearance. The wheel also incorporates audio controls for managing the IQ’s sound system. There’s also a Scion Drive Monitor that displays useful information such as outside temperature and average MPG. An all-new standard audio system features AM/FM/CD/HD/USB 160 watt maximum output Pioneer system. There are two other optional audio systems, one a 200-watt Pioneer Premium affair with an enhanced 5.8-inch LCD touch-screen display offering iTunes, tagging, Pandora through iPhone and six RCA outputs for adding external amplifiers. The other includes a 200-watt SNS 200 system Scion Navigation system, which includes all the features of the base and Premium systems, but with a seven-inch touch-screen LCD display. All of the sound systems provide Scion Sound Processing, allowing three pre-set equalizer settings, satellite radio compatibility along with MP3 and WMA capability and speed sensitive volume control.
In terms of safety, the IQ is really big, with an industry leading 11 standard airbags, including the world’s first rear window airbag and a Scion-first driver and front passenger seat-cushion airbags. All IQs will include the Star Safety System, which includes ABS, EBD, BA, Traction Control, VSC, Smart Stop Technology brake-override and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
My test 2012 Scion IQ sported a rich Black Currant metallic exterior finish and an interior done in Charcoal and Gray tones with patterned cloth seating. The base MSRP read $15,265 while the audio system with Nav and delivery processing and handling fee bumped the final sticker to $17,990.
SUMMARY: The Lilliputian Scion IQ seems much larger once inside than it appears to be when viewing it from the outside. The small displacement four-banger cranks out a satisfying level of horsepower with pleasing acceleration. The car’s light weight makes it an absolute hoot to drive, while its diminutive measurements render it extremely maneuverable, with an exceptionally tight turning radius. The ride quality is surprisingly compliant without being either too firm or too soft.
There are lots of endearing innovative touches that add to the appealing flavor of the IQ, such as the pivoting dome light, electric, speed sensitive power steering, removable cargo storage tray, under seat front passenger storage bin, joystick audio control, asymmetrical dashboard and easy access rear hatch.
There is no spare tire, but rather a small on-board compressor and spray sealant to effect a temporary repair.
The appearance of the IQ is vaguely similar in basic form to the smart fortwo, but the IQ is considerably more balanced and appealing overall. The IQ will compete in the marketplace with the smart fortwo, the Fiat 500 and the MINI, though it is more comparable to the Fiat across the board. In a word, it is CUTE, while being practical and functional as well.
As with all Scion models, the IQ will be covered by a 3-year/36,000 mile comprehensive warranty and a 5-year/60,00-mile powertrain warranty. Also provided, is Scion Service Boost – a complimentary plan that covers normal factory-scheduled maintenance for two years or 25,00 miles – whichever comes first, and three years of 24-hour roadside assistance.