2012 Scion iQ Five Axis Design
2012 Scion iQ Five Axis Design. Click image to enlarge

First Drive: 2013 Chevrolet Spark
2012 Fiat 500 Pop
Test Drive: 2012 Scion iQ

Manufacturer’s web site
Scion Canada

Review and photos by Mike Schlee

Photo Gallery:
2012 Scion iQ

Last winter I had a chance to drive the then-new 2012 Scion iQ. It was the latest vehicle to enter the city car segment and combined the Fiat 500’s four-passenger capabilities with dimensions closer to those of the Smart ForTwo. At a length of only 3,045 mm, Scion touts it as the smallest four-seat vehicle available for sale in Canada, but taking four people in this car can resemble the circus act of stuffing clowns into a toy car.

Since then, there have been two more thorough reviews of this funky hatchback on Autos.ca, by Greg Wilson and Chris Chase. We have gone over, in depth, every aspect of this car and shared our thoughts and feelings on it. So why then, might you ask, is it back again? Haven’t we covered this little guy enough? Well, this time we have a special version. We have the Scion iQ adorned with a Five Axis Design package that dresses up the exterior of the iQ while improving performance marginally. The kit includes FIVE:AD four-piece aero kit, FIVE:AD 18-inch alloy wheels, sport lowering springs, and Five Axis Edition badging.

2012 Scion iQ Five Axis Design
2012 Scion iQ Five Axis Design
2012 Scion iQ Five Axis Design. Click image to enlarge

These upgrades address two weaknesses found in the iQ: looks and handling. The whole package improves the car aesthetically compared to a stock iQ, which has an awkward look, especially with the 15-inch hubcap-sporting steel wheels. The iQ looks amazing in white with the 18-inch black rims installed. The body kit, which I usually hate attached to cars, looks very nice here, although it takes away a bit of the forward approach angle. Thankfully though, the car’s front wheels are so close to the bumper that it can still handle driveways and speed bumps without issue.

The lowering springs drop the iQ 38 mm (1.4 in.) and do enough to make it look less top heavy while the wider 205 width tires look all business and fill the wheel wells in the square design nicely. In fact, dare I say, this car actually looks cool? If it were up to me though, I would remove the fake carbon fibre sticker stripes on the side of the vehicle.

The second issue this car addresses is handling. A stock iQ is not a poor handler really, but the skinny, economy bias tires do nothing to improve the cornering grip of the iQ. The 205/40R18 Yokohama S.Drive tires do wonders to make this little Scion stick to the road. In fact, combined with the lowering springs the iQ now feels stuck to the road. Exiting off-ramps at high speed becomes a test of your limits; not the car’s. Some passengers wondered if the tires would out-grip the iQ’s centre of gravity. A byproduct of this lower profile, wider footprint is a more direct steering response that borders on darty when driving down the highway.

2012 Scion iQ Five Axis Design
2012 Scion iQ Five Axis Design
2012 Scion iQ Five Axis Design
2012 Scion iQ Five Axis Design. Click image to enlarge

Whenever a car is lowered, and the tire’s sidewalls shrink, and it can only be expected that the ride will suffer; the iQ is no exception. The ride borderlines on jarring and is not for anyone who thinks sports cars like the FR-S, MX-5, or Genesis Coupe are too stiff. The iQ now clunks and thumps over bumps. Maybe this was enough to make the Bluetooth system skip (It’s not a record player. –Ed.) as the audio streaming from my phone kept cutting out and the phone would disconnect the second a call came in.

While discussing the negatives, the kit also adds some weight to the iQ’s standard 960 kg. This heft, added to a wider, more resistant tire tread, combined to hurt fuel economy to the tune of 7.8 L/100 km average during our week with the iQ. That is worse than the 7.5 L/100 km I achieved last winter in a stock iQ and far off of the official Natural Resources Canada ratings of 5.5 L/100 km city and 4.6 L/100 km highway.

The rest of the car is still the same ‘old’ iQ. It still has the same 1.3L 4-cylinder engine producing 94 hp and 89 lb-ft of torque. It still only comes equipped with a continuously variable transmission, albeit one of the best out there that will simulate three gear changes from a dead stop to 100 km/h. And, it is still so simple, intuitive, and easy to drive. My wife found it no problem to operate and was comfortable behind the wheel in minutes. She wasn’t, however, a fan of the harsh ride.

I am hoping that the Five Axis Design may add a stage-two upgrade down the road. I would suggest an air intake and mild exhaust to boost power north of 100 hp, and then maybe put in some proper sport seats to replace the current uncomfortable, floppy, unsupportive ones. Regardless, as it stands now, I am still very impressed with this package and quite enjoyed driving this car. Those with an iQ looking for a little flash and fun should give the kit a look.

Pricing: 2012 Scion iQ
Base price: $16,760
Options: $3,428.79 (5-piece iQ kit unpainted and not installed – MSRP: $1214.51; SF:6 gunmetal 18×7.5 inch wheels – MSRP $303.57 per wheel; Tein High Tech Springs – MSRP: ~$300; Five Axis Design kit: $700 (plus tax; incl. painting and installation))
A/C tax: $100
Freight: $1,390
Price as tested: $21,678.79

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