By on December 13, 2011

No, the bag does not fit with the hatch closed.

The Scion (nee Toyota) IQ may be a very small car, but we’ve treated it like big news here. Alex Dykes took an an early look a few months ago. Michael Karesh turned his lens on the IQ in a Take Two. So far, we’ve been cautiously optimistic.

Why review it again? Simple. The IQ is arguably the proper spiritual successor to the original Mini: a packaging miracle which could define the way a large segment of humanity drives in the future. In a market chock-full of retro pastiche and style-over-substance, the IQ is that rarest of things: a truly new automobile, packed throughout its ten-foot length with original thinking.

In this test, we’ll swerve around a bit, race an old woman in a Bentley Turbo, consider who the buyers for this product will actually be, and introduce the IQ to the car which could wind up being its Nemesis. Snuggle up to the asymmetric dashboard and let’s go.

Four's a crowd.

The Scion FR-S, also known as “Toyota 86 whatever”, may be the car which is currently firing the imaginations of Japanese-car enthusiasts everywhere, but it’s the IQ which is actually the most exciting vehicle to come out of the island nation in… well, forever. Certainly it’s the most original and important vehicle we’ve seen since the original Accord. Everyone wants to compare the car to the Smart (and surely “IQ” was a direct nomenclautral riposte to the Daimler mobile phonebooth) but unless you really need to park sideways on the street, there isn’t much of a comparison to be made. The IQ whips it six ways to Sunday.

Let’s talk capability. It’s what sells the SUV, right? Make that perceived capability. Most Grand Cherokees will never leave the pavement, but their perceived capability to do so is reassuring. Well, here’s the two-seat compact car for the perceived-capability set. It’s a perfectly comfortable, normal way for a pair of adults to travel, but in a pinch you can get two more people in there.

Who will those extra two people be? Toyota would have you believe that they will be the skinny-jeans-wearing trendsetter party friends of the skinny-jeans-wearing trendsetter buyers, but let’s be honest: those two extra people will be grandchildren. Never has a car been so ideally suited for the gated communities of the South. Compared to the NEVs and golf carts which wander aimlessly from nineteenth hole to captive grocery store and restaurant, the IQ is thoroughly superior, because it offers full weatherproofing, actual resale value, long life, and the ability to change one’s mind and drive off Hilton Head Island all the way to Savannah should it prove necessary.

Grandmom and Granddad will appreciate the Scion’s low price, big friendly interior buttons, relative lack of confusing features, and 37mpg city rating. (The IQ is estimated to hit 38/37, by the way: its aerodynamic profile is likely to cripple its highway mileage.) If they do get on the open road, they will be surprised at how well the Scion handles the task. Although it is a tiny bit sensitive to crosswinds and pavement waves, never before in history has a ten-foot-long vehicle been this stable at speed. Your humble author ran the IQ up to about eighty-five miles per hour and did a few lane changes without incident. It’s not a Caterham Seven, but it’s no worse to drive than a Corolla.

What the old folks won’t appreciate: the rather dopey CVT. Expect to see the occasional IQ lightly jammed into the bumper of the car ahead of it in traffic, because the CVT’s absolutely unpredictable behavior while slowing down means there’s a different amount of brake pressure required every time. My co-driver nearly bopped a Jetta ahead of us while coming off the freeway, and I found myself regularly missing my planned stopping points by a foot or more. It isn’t the brakes. It’s the transmission.

The normal payoff for a CVT is efficient operation and power transfer, but this ninety-four horsepower, 2150-pound vehicle doesn’t accelerate with much vigor. As we cruised around Palm Beach, I saw a handsome older woman in a twenty-year-old Bentley Turbo R and decided to go have a closer look. Unfortunately, the IQ couldn’t catch her while driving up the drawbridge separating Palm Beach from West Palm Beach — and she didn’t even know we were behind her. We just weren’t making any forward progress. This can be a thrashy, unpleasant powertrain at times.

It was while wandering through the side streets of West Palm Beach that we came across the IQ’s biggest problem in the North American market. Observe these pictures:

That old Yaris is maybe worth six or seven grand, and it offers nearly everything the IQ does except that last twenty inches of packaging efficiency. The young people whom Scion is ostensibly targeting are unlikely to see why they should pay more just to park in a shorter space. One exception: San Francisico apparently has a bunch of 122-inch “parking spaces” on the main streets which are currently the exclusive province of motorcyclists, and those will be IQ-compatible. Another exception: many homes have golf-cart garages which can take an IQ. Oops, we’re talking about old people again.

Other notes: The air conditioning does not impress, not even in weather that was relatively mild by Floridian standards. The intelligent packaging is likely to translate to mildly challenging servicing: the hood/bonnet is more of a mail slot than a functional opening. While it is possible to put two full-sized adults on the passenger side of the IQ, there is a bit of psychological discomfort involved for the fellow in front due to windshield proximity.

The Scion IQ will be sold in a single specification, at a single price: $15,995. All options will be added by your repugnant local Toyota dealer or, in certain regions, by the distributor. As your consumer advocate, I feel compelled to remind you that there is no law on state or national books which prevents your Scion dealer from negotiating on price. Quite the opposite, in fact. The “Pure Price” philosophy is simple gingerbread. Not that there will be a lot of margin in the IQ for the dealer. The money will be in the available wheels, stereo options, lowering springs (insert “lower your IQ” joke here) and interior LED lighting add-ins.

Most small-Toyota intenders will skip the IQ and go directly to the XD, or, failing that, the Yaris. If they do so, they are missing a glimpse into the future. The packaging innovations found in the IQ may not seem terribly important today, but fast-foward to the post-Peak-Oil, 600cc turbodiesel future, and they will be absolutely critical. This will be the only kind of four-seater many people will be able to afford in the future. So if you want a look at the proverbial “tomorrow, today,” it will be as close as your IQ dealer — or as far away as Grandma’s house.

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70 Comments on “Review: Scion IQ, Take Three...”

  • avatar

    Besides parking, why pay $16K for this car? there are plenty of larger cars for the same money and mpg numbers out there. It is similar to a Smart, still pricy and mediocre mileage (for its size) and no room.

    • 0 avatar

      Besides parking, why pay $16K
      Urban on-street parking is the reason. That extra 20 inches is huge advantage in parking. That advantage could mean getting to your destination 5 to 10 minutes sooner. Parking in some cities is a daily battle. There usually aren’t nicely measured spaces. You gotta jam your car in whatever pavement space you can find. The smaller the car, the greater the number of options.

      • 0 avatar

        Out west folks (well the Frisco Phreaks can likely groove to the reality) may have trouble perceiving the parking/driving realities so common “back east;” the “dirty side” the BIG rig gear-jammers referred to the general area and maybe still do.

        Narrow roads so often following what used to be cow paths or foot paths that are unlike the wide-open spaces generally found “out west.”

        Yeah, western geographical restrictions exist such as that US highway entering and exiting the Salt River canyon that struck fear into me as I heaped immense gratitude for the Jake Brake.

        Anyway…. I, the Old Disgruntled One, avidly awaits the the light, minimal Old Coot-sized conveyance that allows van-like access and ability for vehicular living while offering at least average or better reliability and long enough before I convulse and expire so that the likely inevitable shanty-loss allows the Cootster to buy an affordable used new-type livable-within van-like conveyance.

        Have a Merry Christmas and a Hippy New year ye out there in TTAC-dom.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Fahey

      The novelty/cuteness/offbeat appeal overcomes the $$ considerations in some circles.

    • 0 avatar

      What cars. please enlighten us :)

  • avatar

    another car with really no place in the market just like the fiat 500

    it is my opinion that in the west one does not need a car that is smaller than the EU C-segment which is the Focus/Cruze etc.

    For similar money why get a Fiesta/Sonic? The size and fuel difference just isn’t worth it. Why get something even sub Fiesta sized?

    • 0 avatar

      In my experience I find B-segment cars seem to have had a lot more effort put into their design and packaging. I’m tall (6’3″) and find most C-segment cars impossible to use the rear seat behind me. The Cruise is a particularly glaring example of this, but it applies to the Civic, (old) Jetta, Focus, Mazda 3, etc. Whereas the B-segment siblings offer more useable space in a smaller form factor almost every time. The Fit, Golf, (new) Rio, etc. are all far more efficient uses of space, typically at a lower pricepoint. (and often with the same drivetrains)

      It seems to me that C-segment cars are just scaled down midsize sedans – which doesn’t work very well, at least not for taller folks. B-segment cars, on the other hand, have to be designed well to work, so they typically are. It also helps that hatchbacks are more available in the B’s – which help to maximise utility.

      The clearest example of this was the old Scion xB. Astoundingly voluminous interior, for all seating positions, and only a few inches longer than a MINI. On the flip side, I recently visited a Chevy dealership, (to drive the Sonic Turbo 6-speed and the Cruise) and told the salesman if he could get me and my daughter’s carseat in one of the cars, I’d buy it at sticker. Despite his best efforts, he couldn’t even come close, and tried to move me to a Malibu – which had to be a full three feet longer than the xB I arrived in.

      • 0 avatar

        @Thinkin: An xB should be an astoundingly voluminous car on the inside, it’s a box on wheels.

        Let me ask you this: Do you think your ‘experiment’ if it were repeated with a Yaris, a Corolla and a Camry the results would have been very different? Or any other mfr’s similarly sized cars?

        These newer car seats are a big reason why I see so many young families either in an SUV or a minivan. A coworker was blessed with another child in the last year, but having to get his six-year old and the baby’s car seat in the back of his old Fusion just wasn’t happening. The remedy was a Honda Pilot.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s a terrific point on better packaging and use of space in the B segment, versus the C segment.

  • avatar

    Counterpoint: Some of us out there actually LIKE owning and driving a small car for daily commuting use. There’s something to be said for being able to cut thru traffic on what is essentially a four-wheeled scooter (yes, I’m also a believe in the two-wheeled types, as long as we’re talking motorcycle license, insurance, and 110cc+), counting on 30+ mpg in commuting, and not worrying about parking spaces.

    By comparison, my first gen xB I consider a moderately large car: It’s set up to haul three (potentially four) bicycles, is an incredibly good grocery getter, wonderful for shuttling the wife (and her rollator, etc.) around, and I’d consider using it for moderate length trips. If I gotta haul a serious load, the Ranger awaits under its car cover. And if I gotta play with four wheels, I’ve got the Porsche. And for a long trip? There’s Enterprise.

    C and D-sized cars are a complete waste in day-to-day use. Too damned big and fuel hungry.

  • avatar

    …the IQ *is* a genuinely exciting, well-executed car, which makes toyota’s blunders all the more unfortunate ..

    – it’s priced about one thousand dollars above the yaris, where market realities should position it about three thousand dollars below, around $11,9XX
    – any basic, functional vehicle must offer an available manual transmission

    …i read that toyota plans to introduce a six-speed gearbox sometime next year, which is welcomed, but unless they do some serious soul-searching on its market positioning, at best toyota can hope for a short-term niche fad to generate scant US sales…the IQ’s party piece, its packaging, doesn’t yield particularly small exterior dimensions; certainly not enough to justify premium positioning in the ‘states…

    …does the aston martin include a stick-and-clutch?..

  • avatar

    Not in North America. I guess there is a reason writers don’t have a hand making cars.

  • avatar
    fred schumacher

    For packaging brilliance, I would say Gordon Murray’s T.25/T.27 beats the IQ and has the potential for being built at half the price. The Tata Pixel, if ever built, would offer true four-place seating in the same length as the IQ and has a differential that allows the car to spin around like a top. Compared to the Yaris hatchback, the IQ offers too little for too much with not much of a saving in length. This may be a car equivalent to the Segway scooter, an innovative technology with no real place to occupy.

    • 0 avatar

      Size does not a “city car” make. I see cars of all sizes in the city; people don’t seem to mind looking around for the zip code-sized parking space required by their F-750XXHDTurboHemirado. Funniest thing I ever saw was a Fiat 500 street-parked behind one of these beasts; it looked like it might be able to fit in the bed.

      That differential, on the other hand, is the type of feature that should allow a manufacturer to call its vehicle a “city car” with a straight face. Sometimes the space isn’t what’s so tight, it’s the path you need to take to get into and out of it.

  • avatar

    “Grandmom and Granddad will appreciate the Scion’s low price, big friendly interior buttons, relative lack of confusing features, and 37mpg city rating. (The IQ is estimated to hit 38/37, by the way: its aerodynamic profile is likely to cripple its highway mileage.) If they do get on the open road, they will be surprised at how well the Scion handles the task.”

    The IQ could have a bright future; the Boomers are just now entering Geezerdom en masse.

    • 0 avatar

      My parents (now in their grand parenting phase) actually went the other route buying a BIGGER car that still get great mileage: a Sonata Turbo. They had a Saturn Coupe and a Rav4, both deemed too small for long trips to see the grand kids. I told them to hold out for Veloster, but the Saturn wasn’t going to survive another 6 months without another cash infusion (new tires, battery, etc). I have to wonder about older folks cramming themselves into such a tiny car, keep in mind these people have traditional bought full size Buicks, Caddys and Avalons.

  • avatar


    This car may seem revolutionary in NA, but in Japan, Europe and even SA, been there done that.

    In terms of interior packaging and efficiency they still have a lesson to learn from the likes of Renault’s Twingo or Fiat’s Panda.

    For engines, they still don’t offer the best. Take a look at the new twin and three cylinder mini mills (avec or sans turbo) available or coming from a host of Euro makers.

    Those seniors will surely miss the missing extra pair of doors.

    And the transmission seems horrible.

    Oh, and finally, those humongous wheels on such a little car are all kinds of wrong.

    • 0 avatar

      The packaging of the current Twingo is nothing special, the original one was a masterpiece of space-efficiency though.

      Fiat’s twinair paralel twin engine sounds like a teaspoon in a smoothie-blender and owners complain that it doesn’t get close to the manufacturer’s economy claims (but it is apparently fun to drive).

      The 1.33 (1NR-FE) engine in the IQ is basically a four cylinder of the 3 cylinder (1KR-FE). The 1KR-FE is an absolutely cracking little motor.

      • 0 avatar

        On the Twingo, exactly.

        On the Fiat engine, you are again exact.

        As to the IQ mill, I don’t have any first hand experience, but going by the author, sounds like not there. But you sound like you know your stuff, so I’ll keep it in mind when I get the chance to try it myself.

      • 0 avatar

        Except the original Twingo had the crash resistance of sliced bread. The trick, and the evolution in the case of the IQ, is package effeciency combined with safety.

      • 0 avatar

        To the contrary, comparing the iQ to the Twingo/Panda shows how innovative this car is in its packaging efficiency.

        Both the Twingo and Panda are much larger cars, its overall length is 3600mms, but its wheel base is around 2,300mms for both cars. By comparison, the iQ is 3,000mms and has s 2,000mm wheelbase. The iQ is a much smaller car, however the wheelbase isn’t too far off from cars much larger than itself. The car manages to essentially squeeze extra space where there wasn’t before. Let’s keep in mind that the iQ is shorter in length than a Suzuki Cappuccino and a lot of other kei-cars.

        This long-wheel base is the reason why such a small car like the iQ can have the on-road stability of much larger cars. Japanese kei-cars, which are much smaller than the Fiat/Twingo, use trick like de Dion suspension systems to manage highway stability and mid-mounted engines to insure small overhangs. The iQ manages to achieve those packaging efficiency in more widely practical larger-engined FF terms.

        The way that the iQ achieves this is by merging the front-diff and transmission into one unit. It has a center-take off steering gear mounted above the engine resulting in a smaller engine bay. It has pancake style gas tanks mounted under the rear seats (its difficult making tanks incredibly flat as gasoline distribution may becoming challenging), and it has an asymmetrical HVAC system that results in larger front passenger space(and which apparently isn’t adequate for Floridian weather).

        The important part of these advancements is that it can be directly applied to other cars. These sorts of packaging advancements become more crucial as hybrids and PHEVs become more prevalent and additional storage for batteries become necessary (wouldn’t be surprised if the new Prius C is using know-how gained by the development of the iQ).

        But let’s put this in more real terms, using what was learned from the iQ, Toyota recently launched the 7-seater Passo Sette, which is just ~500mms longer than the Twingo/Panda, its shorter in length than a Corolla, yet has a longer wheel-base. Turning radius is a mere 5 meters (which half the Fiat Panda). The iQ is more than just about the iQ.

    • 0 avatar

      Ingvar, I’m probably wrong, but wasn’t the Twingo launched at about the time Renault stole Volvo’s whole safety raison d’être thing? Getting all 5 stars in Eurocap? Wasn’t about this time that Renault effectively won the “safest car line-up” in Europe award?

      I may very well be wrong,…

      • 0 avatar

        The first gen Twingo was launched in 1993, and was the last of the superlightweights, as I call them. It had a curb weight of 790 kg (1,742 lb) and up. Its EuroNCAP results are, Adult Occupant: 3/5 stars, score 23. Pedestrian: 2/4 stars, score 11. Just a couple of years after its launch safety became a major issue and selling point in Europe, and I remember vaguely that it was lambasted because of the lack of it.

    • 0 avatar


      now those are good points. but this is true of most modern cars. the Dacia/Renault LOgan is shorter than Civic or Corolla but wheelbase is longer. the new Vw Up,uses the same concept.

      i think thr Ford Ka started this trend. And it’s one I applaud. Great internal space, tight exterior. Win, win!

      • 0 avatar

        These sort of packing innovations really started with kei cars for the Japanese makers. Its a market segment that is constrained, by law, to a dimension of 3.4 meters by 1.5 meters. Kei cars fit into the lowest taxation bracket in Japan. The goal is get as much space for passengers out of those dimensions while packing an engine, gas, and 4 wheels as possible.

        Which is why we see cars like the Mitsubishi i; mid-engined, RWD, with de Dion suspensions. We’ve even seen mid-engined AWD turbo kei cars like the Honda Z. Its a segment where packaging is all that matters and extreme design choices are frequently taken. The original VW Up concepts followed this Mitsubishi i-style mid-rear packaging design, until it moved to a traditional FF design to fit with VW’s MQB.

        Since you mention the Ford Ka, let’s consider for a moment that its a 3.8m car in length in your native Brazil, this new Toyota Passo Sette is around 4.1 meters and is actually a bit narrower than the Ka. Now imagine that a car is just a fraction of a meter larger than the Ford Ka, and is a narrower, seating 7 people. Granted, this isn’t an ‘American’ 7 people, but as you can see from the link above its a significant amount of usable space more than the Ka.

    • 0 avatar

      “Oh, and finally, those humongous wheels on such a little car are all kinds of wrong.”

      Having driven my then ’93 Ford Festiva with 12″ wheels across the wind-swept plains of Colorado and Kansas, I’ll assure you that the reason this car is as good as it is at 85 mph has everything to do with the larger wheel setup. Any gust of wind on that boxy body past 60 mph moved the car, usually into the oncoming lane.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, and I’m sure those wheels help attribute to the mediocre acceleration that’s gonna get the driver killed trying to merge onto a freeway, or ticking someone else off when they just pull out in front of someone who then has to slow down to keep from rear ending the death trap.

      • 0 avatar

        ” mediocre acceleration that’s gonna get the driver killed trying to merge onto a freeway, or ticking someone else off when they just pull out in front of someone who then has to slow down”

        It’s so hilarious that you mention this. The last 6 vehicles I had to do a nose-stand brake-slam to avoid slamming into were Yukons driven by morons on cell-phones.

        What on earth does acceleration have to do with it?

  • avatar

    Congratulations on being the first reviewer to not mention semi trucks whilst reviewing the iQ. Would it have been too difficult to actually try and use this as a city car and zoom around the city looking for parking spots with cars that people are going to buy instead of this, like the aforementioned Yaris? You’d be doing a great service to your readers to show how much better the iQ is, or isn’t at being a city car.

    Overall, I’m impressed with your review, I am however a bit disappointed that you didn’t mention your imaginary girlfriends.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      As with most press events, there was no possibility of simply “borrowing the car” for an extended period of time. Furthermore, we were in Florida, a state not known for small parking spaces.

      The imaginary girlfriends were thoroughly (un)covered in Saturday’s companion piece. Since I make all this stuff up, I’m thinking about perhaps sending them to Egypt to confront the aliens who built the pyramids. All plot suggestions will be considered.

  • avatar

    This car would start to make a lot of sense at $14k.

    I think you will see them everywhere. Twenty-somethings along with old people will buy them, probably after realizing the FR-S is more than they are willing to spend.

    Also, 94hp/2150lbs is more than adequate unless you just got done reviewing a Challenger Hemi the day before.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I’d just gotten done driving my 2009 Town Car to the airport. With 239hp/4600lbs the power-to-weight ratio was about the same, but the Town Car is a far more competent partner in urban traffic.

      • 0 avatar

        The power to weight ratio that matters isn’t even close to the same.

        2150 lbs + 400 lbs of driver and co-driver, 2550 lbs against 89 lb-ft of torque. 29 pounds per lb-ft.

        Your 4400 lb Lincoln with 400 lbs on board against 287 lb-ft runs 17 pounds per lb-ft.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        A CVT, unlike the Ford’s dino-four-speeder, should be able to deliver maximum torque at all vehicle speeds. The Ford’s transmission can deliver maximum torque in just two of four gears under 65mph.

      • 0 avatar

        The CVT should be capable of delivering that brochure peak power in more circumstances, sure. But only if A) you request 6000 rpm everybody-look-at-me-I’m-a-flustered-crumhorn mode, and B) the CVT reacts fast enough to give you another 3500 rpm before a brief traffic window closes.

        Your lazy V8 can’t put 240 horses out very often. But 130 or so are just unlocking the torque converter away, a downshift gives you 50 or 60 more. Enough to feel competent. A tiny motor can’t do that, no matter how great it is at 6000.

  • avatar

    This is why you buy one:

    As a San Francisco car ownder, I can’t tell you how many times I am circling the block and pass spots where a Smart or Mini could fit but my Mazdaspeed3 cannot. Too bad for that transmission.

  • avatar

    As counterintuitive as the concept may seem to American buyers, this is a premium micro car. The demographic isn’t crossopping Yarii, but larger cars at the same price level. It’s an intended dinghy, for people that are willing to pay extra for perceived extra value in a smaller package. It’s the Avalon of small cars, made for people that could afford a Mini or Fiat 500, but doesn’t want to mingle with the yoof oriented boy racer crowd.

    • 0 avatar

      Ingvar, normally I agree, but, but…

      What’s premuim about this? Grey plastic (unimaginative, boring)interior… Elsewhere I’ve read the fabric on the seats are very simple…

      Unless there is some inherent value in the ToyoScion brand (I know some people think so) that one must absolutely have, I think others do it better and it’s not worth the premium. The Yaris does just fine. Not enough difference between them.

      Now, the difference between a Panda and a Concuecento, it’s palpable.

      As always, YMMV.

      • 0 avatar

        The premium is in the package, and the knowledge that you’re using space age technology, so to speak. Like the difference between driving a Corolla and driving a Prius. Perhaps it’s different in different cultures, but in Sweden, the major demographic are the so called 55 plusers. Upper middle class people that have lived the suburban life with a house and children, with the children now gone since long time ago. Many of them are selling their large houses, buying premium condos on premium sites, getting away with all the fuss that are the houseowners callings. What’s minimalist doesn’t have to be asketic. It’s also seen as a premium second or perhaps third car in upper class households. A great grocery shopper for the wife. With a Lexus LS and an RX on the driveway, an IQ would do, but a Yaris wouldn’t.

      • 0 avatar

        ok, got it. Yep, it’s cultural. If the IQ tried this here in Brazil, it’d face an uphill battle. Such a markeyt exists, but even here Fiat had to slash almost 20%off of the original pricing of the Cincuecento to get it moving. Here that niche is filled by the Minis, Smarts and Audi 1s of the world.

        Toyota would compete as a “fun” car for middle upper class (not rich). And in this niche, the competitors would be Cincuecento and Beetle. As the Fiat cuts the Beetle in price, there are lines at dealers waiting to get their hands on the bugger. I think the IQ would have a tough time, since it’s not as cute as Cincuecento. I t would also have to be cheaper than Corolla (executive car here). No, going against the Germans would be an uphill battle for them.

        Guess that’s why there’s no talk of this car in Brazil.

        Tanks for the insights!

      • 0 avatar

        The difference between cultures are always fun to watch.

        I would also think that the IQ would go well with the reversed snob value crowd. The comparison to the Toyota Avalon is not that far fetched, where the Avalon is a Lexus for those that aren’t interested in the bragging value. The IQ should do very well with those that formerly drove around in Saabs, Volvos, or Subarus, but could afford a much more expensive car if they wanted to. Which they don’t.

      • 0 avatar

        Ahhhhh….”reverse snob appeal”…

        unheard of in Brazil (among all classes). The very few who do get the concept, I suspect, are rich folk (who are exercising restraint and modesty and joining the unwashed masses) who are joining the upper middle class who, au contraire, are snapping up the Cicuecentob specifically for its snob value!

        Fiat and snob value in the same sentence. Welcome to my twisted tropical “paradise”!

    • 0 avatar

      As counterintuitive as the concept may seem to American buyers, this is a premium micro car.

      But these sorts of cars haven’t been successful in Europe, either. Smart has been a loser for Daimler, even in Europe.

      I think that for the most part, the concept of the city car is flawed. The primary advantage of these cars is that they don’t require much parking space.

      But if you live in a place where parking is really that horrendous, then chances are good that you also have access to public transit and other alternatives that are even more convenient than driving. In those cases, the primary benefit of having the car is for getting out of the city center to locations where the parking isn’t so bad. The advantage of the city car is outweighed by its disadvantages if it is rarely driven in the city.

      I would think that the main market for smallish premium cars would be in parts of Asia, where people own cars and drive for the sake of it even if it doesn’t make much sense for them to do so. There is a reason why kei cars are popular in Japan, but aren’t exported in large numbers.

      • 0 avatar

        “But these sorts of cars haven’t been successful in Europe, either. Smart has been a loser for Daimler, even in Europe.”

        The smart is just a poorly made car. Not enough substance for the price and not fuel efficient for the size. At least iQ is the most efficient non-hybrid in the US and not too much more expensive than the Yaris.

  • avatar

    Another attempt at Toyota trying to capaltilize off another car brand. While I detest the Smart car, the IQ is clearly aimed at trying to best the Smart. The only thing going for the IQ is that all the juvie hoodlums who have seen “The Fast and the Furious” are going to be all over this car plastering it with decals and neon bulbs. Yeah, I’ll pass.

    • 0 avatar

      Then why did Aston Martin choose the iQ, not the smart for their rebadge? Board members watched too much 2F2F?

      • 0 avatar

        Easy, the Smart car Is easily identifiable as a Smart. The thing is, all of Toyot…..err Scion’s cars look the same. The XD looks like a squashed Matrix. The IQ looks like a squashed XD. Seriously though, Toyota only works with companies to exploit them.

  • avatar

    I dunno – I can’t see myself essentially driving a phone booth – in case you young’uns don’t know what those are, Google it! (of course I’m teasing!)

    This car does make sense, however, in Manhattan and in San Francisco and probably gated retirement communities. In my current world, not so much. 100 miles a day in this? Uh…I don’t think so. My 2007 MX5 isn’t that much longer, but the short wheelbase doesn’t overcome the harmonics of I-275’s pavement seams in Northern KY near my exit for work in Hebron, and gets a little rough, rocking fore and aft very rapidly, where my Impala is quite smooth.

    I’ll pass on this, but I keep my eyes open to new stuff just the same and learned a very long time ago to “never say ‘never\'”!

    Thing is, if I had a very short commute, I’d buy something I really want to drive, like a Camaro SS convertible!

  • avatar

    Less car for more money only makes sense if you’re in San Francisco or if you’re hawking MINIs. Compared to a MINI, the IQ has poor dynamics and little cachet. It might a good car, but it’s definitely the wrong market. Maybe, as Jack says, the market will someday catch up to the IQ. I hope he’s wrong.

    Too bad, though, it’s a fascinating vehicle. I’d love to have one as a spare car for Boston driving/parking. But when I buy spare cars, they cost about one-quarter of the IQ.

    I’d like to see this kind of packaging applied to a minivan. You could probably get four rows of seats, big windows, AND a good crash test rating!

  • avatar

    Thanks for yet another iQ review, and another good one, at that!

    For the record, I will not own nor wear skinny jeans, as I am one day interested in being one of those grandparents you mention. You are right that grandparents will buy this. They just may not be grandparents yet. Like you said: a glimpse of tomorrow, today.

    There was nothing in this review that would dissuade me from taking a very close look at the iQ when it arrives in East Coast showrooms in the first quarter of 2012.

    I don’t want a Fiat 500, or a Smart, or a Mini. And no, I am not tempted to buy a used Yaris instead. I’d take one if given to me for free, but I’d never buy one. I want the iQ. ‘But it’s more car for less money’, you say? I don’t care.

    I don’t want more car. I want less. Less is more.

    I live in a neighborhood in Philly where parking spaces are a rare commodity. 99% of my driving is without rear passengers. 99% of my cargo needs will not exceed the iQ’s cargo capacity. So why would I buy a larger car?

    The answer is, I won’t. I’m not saying it makes sense for most people as a car or as a transaction. But there IS a market for the Scion iQ. It’s a market of One: me. So thanks for making a car for me, Scion! I’ll take mine in black.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. Though it isn’t a car for me, those claiming that parking isn’t an issue have clearly never fought for street parking day in and day out. Having a car like this would be the next best thing to having a your own personal driveway in the city. If you can see a spot, you can park in it. Even better if it came with front and rear cameras so that you could literally get within a centimeter of each parked car as you squeeze into a spot.

      If I didn’t have a child I’d give it consideration as well…

  • avatar

    No thank you, after an accident the jaws of life could never seperate you from this rolling coffin.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand how the ability to fit into tiny parking spaces would be an make or break feature for buyers of this car even in large cities. In most circumstances a parking space is a parking space and can fit a Corolla as easily as an iQ. Unless some cities are charging for parking by the length of the vehicle I just don’t see the appeal of this over a larger but still small car with a more powerful engine and room for passengers. Chugging up hills in San Francisio in an iQ doesn’t sound like much fun – I think a Fiesta, Sonic, or Fit with a stick would be more bearable.

    • 0 avatar

      May I ask, have you ever been to NY?

      No, street parallel parking does not have a fixed length. You squeeze in what ever gap there is. Even if it’s initially occupied by all Corollas at even distance, what if two of them left and one F350 got in?

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Fahey

      An IQ is perfect for San Fran. The 45,000,000,000 homeless people won’t get hurt when they get run over.

  • avatar


    Is that legal in Ohio?

    those two extra people will be grandchildren

    It won’t be the first time that Toyota/Scion has aimed for Gen Y / “Millenials” and hit their grandparents.


    • 0 avatar

      We joke on the 1st-gen boards that the “average age” of an xB driver was 55, because the only people who bought them were 25 or 85.

      And huh, they sold the hell out of them. I waited 6 weeks for mine, and that was four months before sale peak.

      Shame about the “update.”

  • avatar

    for all this talk of cars with efficient packaging, i’m surprised one has brought up the Toyota Aygo/Citroen C1/Peugeot 107

    they easily fit four adults in a space smaller than a Panda (4 inches shorter, in fact). my 6 foot, 1 inch frame fits in the backseat just fine.

  • avatar

    I hate coming off as a parody of an internet carsite commenter, but WTF: Small car, young target market, 94hp, little torque, and NO AVAILABLE MANUAL?????? It really is a sad, sad world we live in.

    • 0 avatar

      Get over it. Most people don’t grow their own food for a really long time. And it’s OK. It’s not the end of the world. And now it’s time that they don’t select their own gear.

      • 0 avatar

        No. It’s time that *you* don’t select your own gear. Using your analogy, it’s all well and good if most people want to get their food at a grocery store or restaurant. That doesn’t mean that we should outlaw growing your own for those few who actually like it. Also: Could I get this car for $1-3k less with a stick? At that point, it just might be a good value proposition for all of you who think size=value.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Fahey

      Urban car = automatic trans.

  • avatar

    Not that I don’t like little cars, but this is another in a series of marketing fail for Toyota/Scion. For North American tastes, Toyota already has a superior car, the Yaris, for the iQ’s intended purpose.

    This car will suffer the same fate as most of the rest of the Scion line, and particularly a similar fate as the Smart car. No matter it’s engineering goodness, very few people will consider this car here because culturally, it’s too small.

    Toyota should know how US citizens buy cars, small cars+cheap. If it were not true, then the Smart car should have taken the B class by storm. Look at the Prius. If smaller cars were so great, why did they design the Prius to be a mid sized interior and a near mid sized exterior?

  • avatar

    Thie iQ would make a perfect car for delivering pizzas. The boxes would sit on the front seat next to the driver and there is not too much space wasted on surplus passenger room. The small size makes it ideal for parking in tight spots near the customers’ houses and at the pizza shop.

    If I owned a Papa John’s or a Pizza Hut, I’d buy a few for my fleet.

  • avatar

    “Compared to the NEVs and golf carts which wander aimlessly from nineteenth hole to captive grocery store and restaurant, the IQ is thoroughly superior, because it offers full weatherproofing, actual resale value, long life, and the ability to change one’s mind and drive off Hilton Head Island all the way to Savannah should it prove necessary.”

    Oh nooooooooo. . . . . . I’m sitting here in Savannah laughing, but actually the prospect is a bit scary. Need to go set up those customs stations on the bridge.

    Regarding the car itself, come back to me when it gets noticeably better mileage than a 20 year old Geo Metro. Something this tiny oughta return 40 plus MPG with today’s engine technology. Is it the weight necessary to get a certain crash test result? I’d like to know how much safety you would really have to give up to lighten the car enough to get 45 MPG. Then survey customers and see if they would be willing to buy that car, with full disclosure, if an exemption were enacted allowing it to be built.

  • avatar

    wIth the fiat 500 already marked down to $12,000 in Canada, I fail to see how this thing will sell at 16,000. If you want a small fun car, are you really going to buy a Toyota? At least the 500 looks like fun, even if you end up stranded on the side of the road as the inevitable fiat unreliability rears it’s ugly head.

    • 0 avatar

      You just answered your own question: inevitable Fiat unreliability. Versus Toyota. You think people won’t pay a premium for that?

      I did. There were Aveos for $9000 when I paid $15.5K for my xB. Six years later, never once in the shop. Worth it already.

  • avatar

    ‘but it’s no worse to drive than a Corolla.’

    Neither is a goat.

    ‘The air conditioning does not impress’

    What is it with Toyota and a/c? My Toyota barely keeps the cabin habitable in August in Toronto, which is pretty hot but nothing like Texas and Florida.

    ‘by your repugnant local Toyota dealer’

    Thanks, that made me laugh out loud.

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