The Truth About Cars » iQ The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:26:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » iQ Vellum Venom: 2012 Scion iQ Tue, 27 Mar 2012 18:40:25 +0000

Every lesson in car design school is a new challenge: draw a new type of vehicle and be ready to strut your stuff next week in the studio. It was always brutal, as I wasn’t trained to be an artist.

While I enjoy Panther Love references as much as anyone, they point to a sad reality: small cars are tough to render. I always added more crumple zones, too much dash-to-axle ratio, and never added enough flair; something necessary for vehicles with a small canvas.  Maybe this is one reason why the (new) 1970s European subcompacts were always my favorite, or the 3rd Gen Honda Civic. And even the Ford Festiva…but maybe we should pretend I didn’t mention it.


On to our victim, the new Scion iQ compact.  I will admit that Toyota did an admirable job keeping the iQ visually apart from the SMART car. Witness the fat bumper, giving the impression of a bigger, hunkier, two-tier body.  The SMART looks skinny and tipsy by comparison.  The face looks decent enough, with mouth that is neither angry nor happy, with headlights that stare with the intensity of a man on a mission.  The oversized, flared emblem takes away from the package, adding a touch of Bozo the Clown where it absolutely isn’t necessary.  Distinctly not smart, indeed.


No overhangs, but the leading edge of this bumper is an interesting way to add flair without literally adding fender flares. It looks like the beginning of a retro-renaissance of open fendered beauties like the Talbot-Lago.  Okay, probably not…but such extravagance should be encouraged in vehicles this darn small.


And yes, this is a very small vehicle.  The side translation of the front’s not-SMART stance is lost in a sea of short and tall.  That’s not to say Toyota didn’t try, but the greenhouse is so “fast” you expect more overhang to extend the lines.  Honestly, that A-pillar looks like something I’d draw…and then get panned on for not being honest to the small car design.



This cowl is so cute!  Small cars don’t have to be hastily designed, as the plastic trim housing the windscreen washer has curves that empathize with the shapes on the rest of the cowl. Nice touch.


Another reason why the A-pillar is dishonest.  The little black triangle that artificially extends the silhouette of the DLO (daylight opening) shouldn’t exist. A more upright A-pillar would discourage this need for fake “sleekosity”, and probably give you a better, roomier city car too.



The big hunk of plastic near the B-pillar is terrible on the eyes. I suspect it exists to extend the door without needing a bigger piece of glass.  Which probably wouldn’t roll all the way down given the rake of the door next to the body in this area.  So perhaps the designers had no choice, and at least the curves match a corresponding crease in the metal portion of the B-pillar. The SMART car looks a little smarter here.


Wheel covers that don’t cover the wheel need to die a painful death.  Does anyone believe this could be an alloy wheel?


I suspect this odd piece of plastic re-directs air so the iQ is more stable on the highway.  A similar trim item was installed on Ford Sierras to accomplish just that.  Still, it’s a terrible implementation and needs a re-think.


I do quite like the elements presented here. The thicker bumper appears to sprout pre-war fender elements just like the front, and the taillight/glass above encourages the wave.


While I liked the front’s use of two tiers, the back looks too much like a pear.  These hips don’t lie, the Scion iQ needs a little trimming…or a larger cargo area and less tumblehome.


The hatchback’s outside release is a nice piece of design, every curve, contour and material pictured here is an ergonomic delight. Go ahead and try to open it, you will see my point.


The flat black trim that covers (and visually thins) the rear bumper has a nice touch: negative area which exposes a little bit of body coloring.  The factory has to paint the entire rear bumper, so why not show off a little more this way?  It looks more expensive than it was to produce.

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Review: 2012 Scion iQ Take Two Thu, 27 Oct 2011 14:56:33 +0000

Scion is quite sure of one thing: the new iQ is a much better car than the smart fortwo. What they’re much less sure of: how many of the targeted fine young North American urbanites will buy one rather than periodically use Zipcar. I’m neither young nor urban, but I’m going to do my best to pretend. Why might I buy this car—or not?

Exterior styling – not

Toyota fits the iQ with 16-inch wheels that can be upgraded to multi-spoke alloys in a bid for the intended buyer. But the exterior isn’t nearly as stylish as the smart’s, with a frumpy nose, awkward B-pillar, and a single, square-cut door filling nearly the entire space between the wheel openings. Add the relatively large wheels, and the whole looks like a Photoshop chop—except it’s real, with a 79-inch wheelbase (vs. 74 for the smart) and 120-inch overall length (vs. 106). Scion has been struggling to get its mojo back ever since launching the bloated second-gen xB. With the iQ the struggle continues.

Interior styling – maybe

The interior is more successfully stylish than the exterior, but still has none of the whimsical character you’ll find inside a 500 or a MINI. All of the surfaces are—surprise—hard plastic but they generally look and feel solid. The red-stitched leather-wrapped steering wheel and the glossy black trim on the doors and center stack are high points. The controls are simple and easy to use, with three large vertically-aligned knobs for the climate controls. Less functional: the driving position is well aft of the windshield, so traffic lights aren’t visible if you stop at the white line. The button to temporarily deactivate the traction control (but not the stability control) is mounted low on the far side of the shifter. A power lock button sits next to it, but there’s another more conveniently located on the driver’s door. My suspicion: the design initially included only the button on the console, in line with European practice, but the Scion marketing folks insisted on having buttons on the doors, where Americans expect them. They got half of their request.

Interior packaging – where the car earns its nameplate

I’m a space efficiency geek. The intelligent packaging and seating of the Ford Freestyle and Taurus X is perhaps the main reason (beyond the need for seven seats) that I bought one of the latter.

Toyota is most proud of its packaging innovations for the iQ, and this part of their pitch for the car is not hype. Though only a foot longer than a smart, the iQ has a rear seat that can fit one adult without resorting to cruel and unusual punishment, and two with it. They were able to pull this off by:

  1. Placing the engine in the nose of the car (it’s in back with the smart) and locating the differential ahead of the transmission, which sits next to the engine. This enables an unusually short front overhang, and would improve the appearance of even large front-wheel-drive cars. (Back in the 1990s, GM’s designers wanted to flip transverse powertrains around for this very reason, but the engineers refused to enable any such silliness.) A special high-mounted steering rack also plays a role.
  2. Compacting the A/C componentry and locating the evaporator behind the center stack rather than ahead of the front passenger, enabling the right front seat to be shifted forward a few inches. Which is why the right rear passenger enjoys more legroom than the left rear passenger. Space is provided between the front seats for the left rear passenger’s legs, as the driver’s seat can slide all the way to the rear seat cushion. This space exists because, with a width of 66 inches, the iQ is over a half-foot beamier than the smart. A by-product: those in the front seat sit about as far apart as they would in a C-segment car like the Corolla, not shoulder-to-shoulder like they do in the smart.
  3. Developing ultra-thin seatbacks. They don’t feel substantial, but aren’t uncomfortable.
  4. Developing an ultra-thin fuel tank—it’s only 4.5 inches tall—and locating it beneath the driver’s seat.
  5. Adding an eleventh airbag that deploys over the rear window, essentially a rear curtain airbag. There are only a couple of inches between the rear seatbacks and the liftgate, so otherwise the rear seat would be dreadfully unsafe instead of…

Of course, Toyota’s engineers can’t do magic. So without folding at least half of the rear seat there is absolutely no cargo room.

Electronics – good, but better gadgetry on the way

Bluetooth (hands-free phone and audio streaming), USB, and HD radio are all standard, while nav is available as a dealer-installed accessory. But something like Toyota’s new Entune system, with Internet-based apps, is a year or two away.

Performance – quicker than a smart!

The iQ weighs only 2,127 pounds, but this is still a bit much for the 94-horsepower 1.3-liter four-cylinder hitched to a mandatory CVT. (The smart weighs 300 pounds less, but has only 70 horsepower.) In normal mode the CVT produces the rubber-banding effect typical of CVTs paired with small engines. Shifting into S largely eliminates this while also kicking the revs up a grand or two (so it’s not a full-time solution for anyone interested in fuel economy). And if you want to keep the small four at high boil there’s B (intended for engine braking on downhill grades) that further bumps the engine speed. Not the ideal transmission, especially not for driving enthusiasts, but far better than the clunky automated single-clutch manual in the smart. The engine sounds better than that in the Nissan Versa, which similarly employs a CVT, but remains well short of spine-tingling. There’s no joy in winding this one out. Sixty arrives in an acceptable ten to eleven seconds, but acceleration trails off considerably past that mark.

Fuel economy – very good in the city, meh on the highway

Scion touts the iQ’s fuel economy as the best of any non-hybrid. But the EPA rating of 36 city is much more impressive than the 37 highway. Then again, the iQ is marketed as a “city car,” not a “highway car.”

Handling – not remotely a new CRX

The best that can be said of the iQ’s handling is that its ultra-tight 12-foot turning radius, roughly two-thirds that of the average car, is truly a joy to experience. The second best: unlike the smart, the tiny Scion drives much like a regular car. Perhaps too much like a regular car, if by “regular car” we mean a Camry. Aided by the car’s unusually high width-to-wheelbase ratio, roll and understeer in hard turns are both moderate. But the steering is neither quick nor communicative, handling isn’t particularly agile, and the non-defeatable stability control cuts in well short of the car’s limits. The legendary Honda CRX was a thrill to drive sideways. That won’t be happening here. The iQ drives like an appliance.

Ride – survivable

Given the iQ’s ultra-short wheelbase, a choppy ride is a given. Drive over 60 down a concrete freeway (again, not the car’s primary mission), and expansion joints induce a rhythmic bouncing. But otherwise ride quality isn’t bad, and doesn’t feel like that of a very small, very light car. Though larger and heavier, a FIAT 500 rides worse.

Pricing – bespoke bits aren’t cheap

The iQ lists for $15,995. Scion continues to practice “Pure Pricing.” This doesn’t mean that dealers cannot discount, only that they must offer the same price to everyone. A similarly-equipped smart fortwo lists for $16,850. Adjust for the iQ’s additional features using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool, and its advantage widens to a considerable $2,300.

But Scion rightly isn’t taking the smart seriously as a competitor, at least not in North America. Here stiffer competition will come from the Fiat 500 and B-segment cars. The much more entertaining Mazda2 costs a grand less, though a $1,600 feature adjustment gives the iQ a $600 advantage. Compared to a FIAT 500 Pop, the iQ is $1,000 less before the feature adjustment, $400 less afterwards. So the prices for these three are quite close before discounts and incentives—which will tend to favor the Mazda and (as the cars pile up on dealer lots) the FIAT.

Bottom line: The iQ costs about as much as B-segment cars despite being much smaller and less fun to drive.

Sales forecast – not promising

So, the Scion iQ isn’t going to sell based on its price or driving excitement. Its packaging innovations are impressive, but you don’t have to own the car to admire them. Though the iQ is a much better car than the smart fortwo, the latest B-segment cars are better still in nearly every way. In terms of fuel economy, the iQ does very well in city driving, but the larger cars do better at higher speeds (where the Scion is out of its element). In the end, the iQ’s key strengths are its short length and ultra-tight turning radius, both of which make it easy to park in the city. But how many people have ease of urban parking as their top priority AND will be buying a car rather than occasionally renting one?

Scion provided the vehicle, insurance, and fuel for this review at a media event.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail iQ-front-quarter-thumb iQ view forward iQ side iQ rear seat iQ rear quarter low iQ rear quarter iQ interior iQ instruments iQ instrument panel iQ front quarter iQ front iQ engine iQ cargo room High on the iQ? ]]> 125
Pre-Production Review: Scion iQ Mon, 08 Aug 2011 19:15:55 +0000

It will come as no surprise to regular TTAC readers when I say that Scion has had some sales issues lately. But instead of euthanizing the brand as some on TTAC have suggested, Toyota has decided to take a different route. Thankfully, rather than creating more me-too models based off of US-market Toyotas, the plan includes some JDM/Euro models and the much anticipated “Toyobaru “sports car. The first object of foreign desire landing stateside to start off Scion’s resurrection is the Toyota iQ micro-car. The iQ should be in showrooms across the country soon, but does Scion have the IQ to make a smarter Smart?

The problem with the Smart ForTwo isn’t really the car itself, it’s not Penske (the former Smart distributer), and it’s not even parent company Mercedes’s on-and-off waffling relationship with microcars in America. The problem with the Smart car is that all the other cars on the market exist. I learnt this the hard way back in 2007 when I put a $99 deposit down on a Smart ForTwo Cabriolet. The months waiting for my precious pregnant roller-skate to arrive only fueled the flames of desire for the car only Europeans were allowed to buy. Unfortunately when the car arrived the novelty had worn off due to the anemic engine, steep pricing, lack of features and a dumb-witted automated manual transmission. When Toyota said they were bringing their micro car stateside I was suitably concerned yet strangely intrigued, as a result I could not resist an invite to Seattle to see the latest diminutive people-mover.

Numbers are important with small cars, so with measuring tape in hand let’s explore. The iQ is 14-inches longer and just under 5-inches wider than the US market ForTwo (10-feet long and 66-inches wide) making it not only the smallest four-seater in the US but in the world. For anyone counting, the iQ is considerably smaller than the former (or planned) Smart ForFour or even the Mini Cooper. Lilliputian-car lovers rejoice: the iQ is still small. Strangely however, the increased dimensions pay much larger dividends than you would expect due to packaging and the funky layout.

The Smart’s rear-engine layout hurts the tiny car’s space efficiency compared to the front-engine iQ. How can this be? Well, the radiator and other support systems, steering rack, etc. are all still under the miniature hood while cargo space is restricted by the ending in the rear. The iQ engineers on the other hand found ways to repackage everything to use less space. The steering rack sits nearly above the engine, the differential was relocated and compacted, pushing the front wheels in front of, rather than behind the engine and barely behind the bumper cover. Inside, the glove box was deleted and the HVAC unit went on a diet combining massively reduced pluming, a tiny air handler and miniaturized bits-and-bobs jammed entirely behind center console. This means the front passenger compartment could be shifted forward into the void where these systems would normally live. By shifting the front passenger noticeably ahead of the driver, you can actually fit a 6-foot-tall passenger in front, a 6-foot-tall passenger in the rear, a 6-foot-tall driver behind the wheel and a small child or a small amount of shopping behind the driver. That’s what Toyota means by 3+1.

While it is technically a four-seater, my experience stuffing journalists into the car and driving around Seattle can be summed up this way: it can carry two in comfort, three acceptably, four in a pinch. I was actually able to drive the iQ while a 6-foot-tall person sat behind me. It wasn’t awful, but I wouldn’t want to take a road trip that way. Cabin width is not an issue as the iQ is actually wider than Yaris or Corolla and this makes the iQ far less claustrophobic than a Smart. You would think the addition of extra seats would result in lost legroom upfront vs the Smart but you would be wrong. In reality the iQ possesses 3/10ths of an inch less legroom than the ForTwo in front, while adding 28.6 inches of legroom in the rear. The math whizzes in the crowd will notice that 28.6 inches of rear legroom come with an increased overall length of only 14-inches vs the Smart how’s that for IQ?

Those 2.5 passengers will at least be happy spending time inside the iQ as the diminutive people mover possesses better quality bits than most Toyota products in recent memory. (They are certainly better than Versa, which may be a strange comparison, but I was just here in Seattle for that launch, so there you go.) Most interior surfaces that you will touch are covered in a thin soft-effect plastic that is miles ahead of more expensive Toyota products like the Prius or Sienna. The integrated front-seat headrests are functional but strike me as being a tad out of place as the rears are adjustable. The loss of a glovebox (sacrificed in the name of space efficiency) may be a problem for some, but you can opt for a flimsy tub on questionable rails under the passenger seat as a substitute.

All iQ models get a standard flat-bottomed steering wheel wrapped in soft leather which I have to say is the of the best steering wheels I have had my hands on lately. With every high must come a low; I found the new “joystick” controls for the audio system a pain to use. Speaking of audio systems, Scion continues to take a novel approach on this front. All Scion models are shipped to our shores radio-free and the radio or nav system of your choice can be inserted at the dock or dealer. Fail to tick an optional head unit box and you’ll get the standard Pioneer system which includes HD radio, CD player, Bluetooth (for phone and streaming audio), iPod/USB control, AUX input and four Pioneer speakers. Stepping up to the 200-watt premium audio box gets you a 5.8-inch LCD with iTunes tagging, Pandora connectivity (via a smartphone) and RCA preamp outputs. Should money be no object, you can step way-up to the $1999 Scion Navigation System 200 which is basically the Scion version of the Toyota/Lexus navigation system in everything from the Camry to the LS600. While I find the Toyota/Lexus/Scion nav system easy to use, snappy and well featured, $2000 represents a whopping 13% increase in the price of the car just by selecting this one option. Ouch. Another oddity is the total lack of cruise control, optional or otherwise. As a city car it makes sense I suppose, but it is a nicety I’d still like to have.

Under the tiny hood beats a 1.3L four-cylinder (1NR-FE) engine, brand new for the iQ and for Toyota churning out 94 HP at a lofty 6,000 RPM and 89 lb-ft of twist at 4,400 RPM. I had hoped to see perhaps a diminutive 3-cylinder turbo or perhaps a direct injection engine, but Toyota has decided to go for the tried-and true multi-point electronic injection pioneered last century. Despite high compression of 11.5:1 only regular unleaded is required. Power is put to the ground via a new CVT making the iQ the only Toyota non-hybrid CVT product on these shores. I can’t help another Smart comparison here: the ForTwo’s automated manual shifts like a drunk 12 year old driving daddy’s John Deere, the iQ’s CVT on the other hand likes to rev the nuts off the little 1.3L engine, but at least it is smooth in the process. Pitted against the 2127lb curb weight of the US spec iQ, acceleration is neither swift nor slow but in the same realm as a Prius at an observed 10.52 seconds to 60 (0-60 quoted 11.8) keen observers will note this is considerably faster than the Smart.

The EPA has crowned the iQ with the highest combined economy for any non-hybrid in the US at 36/37/37 (City/Highway/Combined EPA 2008). During my short 105-mile stint with the car on three separate driving routes around town, I averaged 32.1, 37.2 and 49.1MPG on two city routes and one 25-mile highway run.

The safety conscious in the crowd will no doubt be concerned about driving around in a car the size of a high-top trainer. To allay these fears, Toyota has jammed 11 airbags into the iQ including front airbags, knee airbags, side curtain airbags, front thorax bags, a rear window airbag to shield passengers from a tall vehicle impacting your hind end, and finally in-seat airbags to prevent the driver and front passenger “submarining” under lap belts in a rear collision. I don’t know about you, but I want to see video footage of all those bags going off simultaneously.

Starting in December on the west coast and working its way across the country, expect the iQ to slip into dealers with a base MSRP of $15,256 plus destination of $730. Included in the price is scheduled maintenance for 2 years/25,000 miles and 3 years of roadside assistance (mostly because there is no spare). Toyota expects sales to be substantially similar to the xB and xD (20,364 and 10,110 respectively in 2010). Seeing as Smart managed to con 14,595 people in 2009 and 5,927 in 2010 into buying a fairly awkward little car, Scion’s low end sales forecast seems totally achievable. When it does land in a dealer near you the usual bevy of Scion accessories will be available including lowering springs, wheels, sway bars, fog lights, etc. One of our Facebook followers asked us if installing lowering springs would result in lowering the driver’s iQ. You’ll have to check back for the full review of the production model for the answer as well as comparisons to the Mini and 500.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Toyota flew me up to Seattle, put me up in a swanky hotel and stuffed me full of wine and food for this review.

0-30: 3.906 Seconds

0-60: 10.52 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 18.05 Seconds @ 73.6MPH

IMG_3500 IMG_3493 IMG_3458 IMG_3511 IMG_3479 IMG_3482 IMG_3483 IMG_3481 IMG_3498 IMG_3484 IMG_3472 IMG_3509 IMG_3453 IMG_3487 IMG_3477 IMG_3495 IMG_3486 IMG_3471 IMG_3461 IMG_3462 IMG_3513 IMG_3501 IMG_3508 IMG_3503 IMG_3469 IMG_3457 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail IMG_3488 IMG_3459 IMG_3505 IMG_3464 IMG_3497 IMG_3507 Smarter than Smart? IMG_3466 IMG_3491 IMG_3467 IMG_3516 IMG_3463 IMG_3485 IMG_3478 IMG_3460 IMG_3492 IMG_3480 IMG_3454 IMG_3490 IMG_3499 IMG_3465 IMG_3489 IMG_3502

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2 BR, LDR, EIK, Your Choice Of Prius Plug-in Hybrid, Or iQ EV Mon, 13 Jun 2011 08:18:49 +0000

In the market to buy a condo in Tokyo? If you buy the right one, it will come with a car. Starting in spring 2012, Toyota plans to launch a condominium-based car-sharing program in collaboration with Japanese real estate developers.

As a start, a condominium building in Meguro, Tokyo, one in Suginami, also in Tokyo, and one in Aichi will each receive a couple of  the Prius Plug-in Hybrids and the iQ EVs.  Both cars are scheduled for a 2012 launch. The cars will be managed  by nearby Toyota vehicle rental and lease companies. Toyota sees this as a test to “investigate further methods to promote EV-use based on the results of this program.”

Says Toyota: “Car sharing has become more popular among people in urban areas who do not own cars, and it is also gaining public attention as a countermeasure against global warming and oil dependency.”  Also, owning and especially parking can be a major hassle in Japan’s inner cities.

Also according to Toyota, the upcoming Prius Plug-in Hybrid has an electric-only driving range of 23.4 km (14.5 miles) before the gasoline engine powers the generator. The iQ-based EV is said to have a range of 105 km (66 miles).

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Rent-An-IQ Sat, 12 Feb 2011 12:35:18 +0000

The attentive reader of TTAC is not surprised by the news provided by Automobilwoche [sub] that Toyota will introduce a plug-in version of its iQ by 2012. It had been on Toyota’s green roadmap for months. The (not really) surprising news is: You won’t be able to buy the EV iQ when it gets launched.

At least not in Europe. A Toyota Europe spokesperson told Automobilwoche that the car will only be available as a lease. Leases appear to be a favorite way of carmakers to enter the plug-in market with caution.

Funny coincidence: The picture of the battery-operated Toyota iQ that accompanies the article in Automobilwoche (above) was taken in the exact same spot (left) where I had a quickie test drive of the conventionally powered iQ last December.

If you want a faux Italian background in Tokyo, cobbled streets and all, there is no better place than Toyota’s Mega Web site.

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(Space) Capsule Review: Toyota iQ. (Closed Course. Unlicensed Driver.) Mon, 27 Dec 2010 13:46:35 +0000

“This could be Toyota’s iPod,” said UK’s Fifth Gear. The iQ is Toyota’s (some say much smarter) answer to Daimler’s Smart. But the trouble is: The iQ is only available in Japan and Europe. Its impending arrival in the U.S.A. has been announced many times. More on that later. While in Japan, I wanted to test-drive the smallest car of the world’s largest automaker. But first, there were huge obstacles to overcome.

I don’t have a driver’s license. Technically, I don’t.

While discussing the test drive, I was asked whether I’m properly licensed, and I proudly produced three licenses: German, American and Chinese.

Not good enough for Japan. In Japan, you MUST have an international driver’s license if you don’t have a Japanese license. That international driver’s license is simply a translation of your license, and usually a waste of time and money: Show a foreign cop the thing and he either waves it away and wants to see the real one. Or he arrests you: Some countries, such as China, insist that you get their license, or a driver.

Japan is an orderly country, and don’t even think of walking up to a rental counter without an international driver’s license. And don’t go to Toyota and want a test-drive.

In the time it took me to figure out that I can simply go to downtown Tokyo, spend an afternoon and 3,000 yen at the JAF, the Japanese version of the AAA, and walk away properly documented, the friendly folks at Toyota had already figured out something else: They have a closed course down at the docklands of Tokyo, and if I come early and chaperoned by someone of their PR department, they would waive the license requirement. This time.

Coming early meant taking using Tokyo’s fabled public transport system during morning rush hour. There is no better preparation for the test of a city car than being squeezed into the JR train with millions of other sardines. After that, even the smallest car will feel spacious.

The car to be tested turned out to be a recently face lifted iQ. The trim of that model has a slight problem. It is hard to type. It’s called iQ with an arrow behind it. As in iQ → . Because “iQ with an arrow behind it” is a bit cumbersome, the Japanese usually call it “iQ Go.” The iQ Go is supposed to be a sportier version of the iQ. It can be had with the Super CVT-i continuously variable transmission, or with a six speed manual. They gave me the CVT version. According to the rumor mill, this will be the version that will show up stateside as the Scion iQ (and hopefully not as the “Scion with an arrow behind it”) if and when the iQ shows up stateside.

You should always approach an iQ carefully. It’s easy to trip over it. This car IS SMALL. Small on the outside. Inside is another story. My chaperon sized up my 5 foot 8 figure, and said: “The Chief Engineer of the car is taller than you.”

And indeed, after I hefted my slightly overweight frame into the car, I sat pretty and comfortable. When you adjust the seat to the proper driving position, it nearly touches the rear bench. The front passenger sits slightly ahead (and in Japan to the left) of you, and can still stretch his or her legs. This provides enough legroom for the backbencher behind the front-seat passenger. Daimler has a Smart ForTwo. Toyota has an iQ of 3+1: Three grownups and a baby. Or a few shopping bags.

Speaking of bags: Don’t even think of bringing any luggage if you fill the iQ with three grownups plus one. The luggage space behind the hatch of the iQ barely fits a thin attaché case and a newspaper, as long as the paper is not the weekend edition.

And again, the car demonstrates its superior iQ: If you want to go on a weekend trip with wife, or hot date, you flip the split rear seatback forward, and presto, space for his & her (small) suitcases, but no room for any witnesses.

By the way: Small size does not diminish your safety. The iQ has a 5 star rating from Euro NCAP, the whole complement of electronic gadgetry, and you are surrounded by a whole army of airbags. There is even an airbag for the rear window. Just in case.

The Toyota iQ Go is powered by Toyota’s 1.3 liter 1NR-FE Dual VVT-i engine that makes 93hp and converts 1 liter of precious gasoline into 23.5 km. Converted to U.S. specs, that’s 55 mpg (non-EPA.) The 1.3 liter engine produces 101 grams of CO2 per kilometer. If you want to have the green creds of under 100 grams, then you need to get the 1 liter version. It produces only 99 grams, but also only 67 hp. A whole lot of other interesting technology comes in that small package, too much for a capsule review. Refer to the Fifth Gear video. They explain it pretty nicely.

Speaking of videos: YouTube is chockablock full of videos that demonstrate one of the iQ’s finest features: It’s parkability. Despite being a few inches longer than the Smart ForTwo, its turn radius is tighter.

But how does it drive? Honestly, the closed circuit is no high speed test track, and the IQ Go is not turbocharged. It did fine for the city conditions under which I drove it. (If you want to take the car for a virtual spin, there you go.) In Japan, you can buy an “iQ GAZOO Racing tuned by MN.” If you can find one, limited 100 piece edition. It comes with the same 1.3 liter engine. Buying the Aston Martin Cygnet, which is mechanically identical, won’t get you more oomph either. The iQ is what it is.

And now for the big question : When can you have it stateside? The Unofficial Guide To The Scion IQ by Toyota had it on good authority that the car would have been available in the U.S. last September. September went by, the U.S. remained devoid of iQ. Later, Autoblog reported that “Toyota representatives expect it to hit dealer showrooms around March of next year.”

Well, I had my very own Toyota representative right (well, left) next to me, and I asked:

“So, when will it come to the U.S.?”

Shrugging of shoulders.

A few minutes later, I parked the iQ (not with the élan shown in the videos, but effortless no less) and I asked: “Will you go to the Detroit Motor Show?”


“Will the iQ be on display?”

“Look over there! A Toyota Century! It probably has its name because it gets redesigned once in a century. Hahaha! Do you want to drive it?”

Sometimes, you’ve got to know when to stop asking. If you see a Scion iQ in Detroit, you know it will come.

The Toyota iQ Go as tested starts at 1.6 million yen (including Japan’s consumption tax, $19,300 at today’s rate.) With leather, the price goes to 1.7 million yen ($20,500 incl tax.)

Disclosure: Toyota provided chaperon, closed track, car and less than a liter of gas.

The 2010 Toyota iQ Go. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The 2010 Toyota iQ Go. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The 2010 Toyota iQ Go. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The 2010 Toyota iQ Go. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The 2010 Toyota iQ Go. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The 2010 Toyota iQ Go. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt The Toyota Century. PIctudre courtesy Bertel Schmitt The 2010 Toyota iQ Go. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

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Toyota Developing EV iQ In-House Fri, 19 Nov 2010 16:10:58 +0000

We’ve called Toyota’s Tesla-developed RAV4 EV an “EV insurance policy,” but it seems that Toyota is even hedging its hedges. Automotive News [sub] reports that the Japanese automaker is developing an EV version of its iQ city car in-house, the first in-house EV developed by Toyota for the mass market. If Toyota’s experiment with Tesla fails the way Tesla’s development partnership for the Smart EV with Daimler did, Toyota will be ready with an in-house developed EV. The iQ EV should have a 65 mile range when market-ready, but no date has been given for its launch. Though offering less range than the RAV4 EV, the iQ EV should be considerably cheaper for Toyota to produce… and it keeps the automaker’s engineers in the EV game. As Toyota moves towards a 2015 hydrogen car, it’s plugging EVs into the city car profile where they should remain competitive long-term. This seems to be the model for the future: EVs for short-range city commuting, hydrogen for longer distances, and continuously-improved gasoline cars for those who can’t afford either. The broad-based green car portfolio seems to be the way of the future.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Toyota’s High-iQ Minivan Edition Tue, 31 Aug 2010 17:06:54 +0000

Toyota’s Verso S will debut at the forthcoming Paris Auto Show, and these first pictures show that iQ-inspired styling is starting to creep across the Toyota small-car lineup. So does the edgier (by Toyota standards) iQ-inspired design language mean the shortest micro-MPV in Europe (at under 4 meters) might make it stateside as a Scion-branded van? Anything’s possible, but Toyota ain’t saying… for now.

versos1 versos3 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail versos versos2 ]]> 26
What’s Wrong With This Picture: Fish In A Barrel Edition Wed, 17 Mar 2010 15:07:31 +0000

How could the whole Toyota iQ-rebadging situation get any more embarrassing for Aston-Martin? The answer is staring you in the face. The Aston Cygnet is rapidly becoming one for the history books [via]

Oh, Mr Bond... (courtesy: Like, woah (courtesy: (courtesy: (courtesy: Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail (courtesy: (courtesy: ]]> 21
Scion: The Brand With No Purpose Fri, 15 Jan 2010 21:03:29 +0000 Americans are obligated by our constitution to love weight gain and poor visibility

“Scion is pretty much a North American brand, so that is why it is very natural to think more development, more design work, should be done in North America,” Yoshi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor North America tells Automotive News [sub]. In other words, fans of Scion’s first generation of JDM confections who railed against second-gen bloat are probably out of luck. Sure, model four in the Scion lineup will be the iQ minicar, which is small and weird enough to have been a member of the Scion invasion team, but after that? It’s all bloat and bigger blind spots from here on out. It’s what America wants.

Apparently the Scion tC, the only Scion product entirely designed and developed in the US, will be replaced this year. As if confirming the continued Americanization of Scion, the Camry-engined coupe is still outselling the only remaining Scion still reminiscent of the first generation, the xD. We’ve been told that the Fuse concept shown above is the basis for the new tC. Did we say something about bloat and blind spots earlier?

The decision to replace the tC this year has another implication: it means the FT-86 RWD coupe currently being developed by Toyota and Subaru almost certainly won’t be sold as a Scion (as it won’t arrive this year). And if a $25k RWD manual-transmission coupe doesn’t fit in you alleged youth brand, why the hell do you have a youth brand in the first place? Mr Inaba?

We will figure out what we need. We need to focus on more products based on the customer’s needs, what the customer wants… The important thing is to try and appeal to a younger segment. The role of Scion is to grow them into Toyota or Lexus so that has not changed…. We have to be tuned to the needs of younger customers. Connectivity is a very important issue [and] our products should take car of their interests and their needs.

That, or maybe pickups. Who knows what kids really want? Which is why I don’t think it’s too hyperbolic to say that this is highly reminiscent of the terminal brand cluelessness that defined GM for the last several decades. Toyota’s battle with “big company disease” obviously isn’t over, and it probably won’t be until it gives up on the Scion experiment.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: When Do We Get A Zagato Version? Edition Wed, 16 Dec 2009 14:52:29 +0000 Oy! (courtesy:Autocar)

The Aston Martin Cygnet: because the auto industry just isn’t surreal enough these days. For its next trick, the Aston Martin grille will be appearing on a Corolla. Is there a photoshopper in the house?

Oy! (courtesy:Autocar) astoncygnet1 astoncygnet2 astoncygnet-thumb Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 32
LA Auto Show: VW Up! Lite Wed, 02 Dec 2009 19:29:32 +0000 vwup

VW’s biggest news from LA today is the Up! Lite, no doubt designed by some uptight Germans intent on bring a strange looking, Germanically efficient vehicle to the shores of America (or Poland). Obviously a result of VW’s development of a 100+MPG 1+1 seater car, the 70 mpg Up! Lite makes up for its homely looks with in-town efficiency. But then its main competition, the Toyota iQ and Smart FortTwo aren’t exactly lookers themselves. Under the hood lurks a 0.8L TDI engine and a 10kw electric motor making for leisurely acceleration despite the featherweight kerb figures. uplaunch uplaunch1 uplaunch2 uplaunch4 vwup vwup-thumb

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