9. November 2012
It’s like this: the Scion iQ is a three-door lift back that is probably the smallest car you’re ever likely to consider that resembles a real car. Compared to the more toy-like smart fortwo, the iQ is nearly Brobdingnagian in proportions. That is, whereas the iQ is 120.1 in. long, 66.1 in. wide, and 59.1 in. high, the fortwo (which is literally for two people, while the iQ claims to be the “world’s smallest four-seater,” which is true, if and only if you put two of the world’s smallest people in the back seat) is 106.1 in. long, 61.4 in. wide, and 60.7 in. high.
If you look at those dimensions—and admittedly the whole suite is on the ultra-diminutive side—you’ll note that the iQ is significantly (on a relative basis) lower and wider than the fortwo, which makes it more like a conventional car that has been scaled down.
The iQ is arguably a city car. It is the sort of thing that you might park perpendicular to a curb. The sort of thing that you’d use to get to work and back assuming that your employment didn’t require much more than a purse and a briefcase because there isn’t a whole lot of room for stuff in the iQ.
And it is this lack of stuff space that makes me think that the iQ isn’t really all that smart.
Consider that what you have for driver-accessible storage is one cup holder and two door pockets. And you could throw stuff in the back seat. But I found that unless I put my garage door opener on the passenger’s seat, it went into the cup holder. Which meant no cup. And if I had a pair of sunglasses, they would have had to go into the cup holder, which would have meant that the garage door opener would have gone on the passenger’s seat, which would have meant no cup and no passenger.
Oh, and it should be noted that the door pocket on the passenger’s side is where the owner’s manual goes, so that’s out for storage, so your flashlight and air gauge would go in the pocket on the driver’s side, which would mean that they’d be causing all manner of racket when starting and stopping, which would lead you to throw them in the back seat or on the passenger’s seat, which leads me to wonder why the passenger seat isn’t made by Rubbermaid rather than by a seat supplier.
“Wait,” you might be thinking. “Why not put the manual, flashlight and air gauge in the glove box?”
Because there is no glove box.
All of which is to say that the utility vis-à-vis carrying stuff is severely truncated in the iQ. And as a three door, there is no trunk. Pop the rear hatch and you’ll discover 3.5-cu. ft. of storage space behind the rear seat. To put this into context: There is probably nothing you could buy at Costco that would fit back there outside of a pizza—that you would have to store vertically. (If you put the rear seat down you get 16.7 cu. ft. of storage space, which is actually Costco-compliant.)
Perhaps it is because they didn’t need to use much of it overall, but the materials on the interior of the iQ are really first-rate. The design and the surfacing of the plastic parts are done in a way that owners of some more expensive cars would be envious of. It is fresh and contemporary inside.
(Speaking of expense: the MSRP of the iQ is $15,265, sans the $730 for delivery.)
The real question that one would probably have is how well the iQ drives. And you’d be surprised to learn that if you are driving the iQ, you have little sense that you are in a little car. I drove it nearly 200 miles on I-94, an interstate that is no terra incognita to truckers. And even though it has a 94-hp engine mated to a continuously variable transmission, it moved right along. Because of its stance, it handled the road rather well.
In fact, I was surprised.
Now you might think that given its size it would provide somewhere north of 40 mpg, which, sadly, is not the case. It is stickered at 36 mpg city, 37 mpg highway. Not bad, but not what you might expect.
Overall, I really like the iQ. But I simply can’t figure out why.
Engine: 1.3-liter four cylinder
Material: Aluminum block and head
Horsepower: 94 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 89 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Wheelbase: 78.7 in.
Length: 120.1 in.
Width: 66.1 in.
Height: 59.1 in.
Curb weight: 2,127 lb.
Coefficient of Drag: 0.31
EPA: 36/37/37 mpg city/highway/combined