May 27, 2012

2012 Scion iQ

Up front disclaimer: We haven’t driven a Smart Fortwo.  The local dealer can barely keep them on the lot and since we never want to take cars away from customers, we have to wait our turn.  Our iQ test drive was the 1st for that particular Scion associate in an iQ, so we discovered the car together.
Base Price: $15,265
As Driven: $16,205, the destination fee is added here.  There are no factory options.
Engine: 1.3L 4-cylinder, 94 hp
Transmission: Continuously Variable-speed
Curb Weight: 2,127 lbs.
Wheelbase: 78.7 in.
MPG Rating: 36city/37 highway

The first time we saw the Scion iQ was on Top Gear UK and it was a Toyota.  The iQ was released in Europe in 2009 after its debut at the Geneva Auto Show in 2008.  There are few cars that immediately fit the style and build of a clown car.  The iQ fit that mold immediately, but doesn’t appear to be the SUV-car crusher that the Smart Fortwo looks to be… 

The interior is surprisingly roomy…  The driver’s seat is able to slide forward and back, but can’t be raised or lowered.  At 6’4”, Chris fit in the driver’s position, but could sense the roof looming just above him.  He has a lot of hair right now and could feel his hair tickling the roof, think Van de Graaff machine
                The legroom for the front passenger seat is impressive.  The Scion representative commented on the fact that he could recline the seat and really experience all of the room.  Chris couldn’t do that since the steering wheel, while it tilted, didn’t telescope.  If the steering wheel had telescoped, then he could have removed the driver’s seat like Hightower in Police Academy (jump 30 seconds in) and driven from the back seat.
                There’s no point in checking your blind spots.  You’re sitting in the blind spots.  Set your wing mirrors wide enough to just barely see the car at the edge and you won’t ever have to worry about a vehicle being in your blind spot. 
                There is a back seat, but if you want a trunk, you must lower the back seat.  This car optimizes space or at least what it little it has.  This car can be used to carry more than two people, but it is not recommended to do so longer than ten minutes, since there will be legs falling asleep.
                With all of the seats in place the iQ offers only 3.5 cubic feet of cargo space.  This means the back seat is up with very little space behind it.  The Fortwo offers 7.8 cubic feet of space with all of the seats in place.  The difference comes when you maximize your space.  The Fortwo still offers the same 7.8 cubic feet of space because there is no rear folding seat.  The iQ offers 16.7 cubic feet of space when the seat is folded, plus the front passenger seat will fold flat.

The iQ is easier on the eyes than the Fortwo.  We are not really fans of either car’s look, but the iQ is easier to stomach, like eating seafood (Chris hates seafood) instead of nails…
Here you can see just how small the iQ really is...
It is shorter, wider, and longer than a Smart Fortwo.  Where the Smart car looks like a strong sneeze could blow it over taller and thinner, the iQ looks short, stout, and stable.  We have heard anecdotes of Fortwos being blown of the road while travelling at highway speeds by winds over 30 mph.  The lines add to the box look, but don’t make it look awkward or top heavy. It does not look as bad as the Cube.
                All four tires are 16 inches and can be rotated.  The Smart car has two different sized tires making them impossible to rotate.  Most car people say that over the life of the tire there isn’t a reason to pay to have your tires rotated.  If it’s free, then it can’t hurt anything. 

The iQ is powered by a whopping 1.3L 4 cylinder engine.  We’re going with whopping because it’s .3L larger than the Smart Fortwo’s 1.0L.  The 1.3L produces 94 horsepower at 6,000 rpms.  The problem is that at the moment when you feel the engine start to assertively pull, then the CVT shifts.  Most of the time the car is around 4 thousand rpms, but it sounds like it’s at the top of the tachometer, loud, and underwhelming. 
The turning radius is fantastic, but this is not a vehicle for aggressive driving.  The car will turn just fine, but powering out of the turns is not a reality.  This car politely suggestions that it always be driven calmly and with discretion.  It isn’t fast at all, but with the short wheelbase; quick maneuvers at highway speed could put a number of the “Darwin Award” drivers in the ditch.
The 0 to 60 time is…  Has anyone taken the time to find out?  It’s less than a minute, but longer than 10 seconds.  Scion says that iQ will run 0 to 60 in 11.8 seconds.  The numbers that really matter for this car are the mpgs.  In the city you are averaging 36 mpg and 37 mpg on the highway.  The Smart Fortwo is listed at 34 city and 38 highway.  The nail in the Smart coffin for us is that premium fuel is recommended.  That’s like $400,000 more a year $3 dollars more per fill up for very similar economy.
The rear seat folds down to create a trunk.

                All of the tech is lined up in the center of the vehicle.  The climate control switches are all stacked underneath the stereo housing in the exact center of the car.  All controls are equidistant for the front passenger and the driver. 
There is an instrument console in front of the driver that offers trip computers and mpg readings.  The clock was the easiest piece to reset on the fly and the clock is never easy to reset, so that’s a positive. 
The tachometer spend a lot of time around 4,000 rpms.
                There are audio controls on the steering wheel.  It comes with Bluetooth and has auxiliary inputs for your mp3 playing devices and also a USB port.  The stereo is powered by Pioneer which is a name we know.  The only problem is that we know it because that’s a type of aftermarket stereo that high school kids purchase for their ’88 Honda Accord LX’s…  That analogy might have gotten a little too personal. 
                The iQ’s audio system also comes standard with four speakers, while Smart has two…  The Smart car comes standard with two and there is no option for more.  The iQ also has the ability to play CD’s, while the Smart does not.  Who still plays CD’s?  We bet they’re over 40.
                The iQ comes standard with 11 airbags, which reminds us of the police car from Demolition Man.  If all 11 airbags activate in a collision, the car is so small why wouldn’t all of them activate, then you’re basically being wrapped in a pillow.
                Along with the airbags the iQ comes with Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-Lock Brakes, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution, Brake Assist, and Smart Stop Technology.  We only really know or care what a couple of those things mean.  The ABS, Traction Control, and Stability Control are all really good.
The look really has grown on us.

                We don’t want the iQ.  We understand why it was created, and we see a lot of its benefits.  It just isn’t a car for us. We’re too big and have too much stuff. If you do buy an iQ, then right now they’re throwing in a PlayStation Vita.  There are no factory options for the iQ.  All of them come to the dealers the same, but the Scion brand has bazillions of plastic/metal covers to make your Scion look like a teenager with bad taste unique.  If we needed a city vehicle for around $16,000, then we’d probably look at the Fiat 500.  Then again, we would be spending more and getting an Abarth.  There are those that still don’t trust the “Fix It Again, Tony’s” and for them we’d steer them to the Scion iQ.  It’s small, fuel efficient, has Toyota reliability, not horrible to look at, can fit a large dog can take one passenger with Chinese carry out, bump your beats from four speakers, and comes with a back seat/trunk. 

There’s also an Aston Martin version of this car called the Cygnet.  Cygnet means young swan.  The iQ as an Aston is more of an ugly duckling…

Here’s to a Turbo version.  Wait, what?

A special THANK YOU to my friends at Kenny Thomas Olathe Toyota who let me test drive the iQ.  If you are interested in one, they have a vast selection.

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