2012 Scion iQ
2012 Scion iQ
2012 Scion iQ
2012 Scion iQ
2012 Scion iQ. Click image to enlarge

Equipped with front discs and rear drum brakes, the iQ brakes from 100 km/h to 0 in 44.5 metres, according to AJAC. That’s a bit disappointing. It compares to the Fortwo with 42.4 metres in a 60 mph to 0 test conducted by Consumer Reports, and the Fiat 500 with 42.0 metres in a 100 km/h to 0 AJAC braking test.

The driver’s visibility is generally good, particularly as the rear window is so close to the driver, but the rear head restraints can block the view, and I’d recommend removing them if there are no rear passengers. They will almost fit in the under floor storage bin behind the rear seats, but not fully. The iQ comes with a standard rear wiper with washer and rear window defroster.

The driving position is satisfactory despite the fact that the steering wheel tilts but doesn’t telescope and the driver’s seat is not height adjustable. The seats, covered in a patterned fabric, are contoured to hug the body and I found them reasonably comfortable for drives of half an hour or less. The small and sporty leather-wrapped steering wheel with attractive red stitching and a flat bottom adds some needed flare to an otherwise quirky interior design highlighted by an audio unit perched on top of the dashboard with a standard Pioneer AM/FM/CD unit with small buttons that are difficult to see and operate. Fortunately, there are some controls on the steering wheel for audio volume, power, mode, channel select, and Seek. I would recommend paying the extra $595 for the optional 200-watt premium system with a large touch-screen and hands-free operation using voice commands.

The iQ’s interior surfaces are a mixture of hard black and light grey plastics on the dash and doors, shiny black plastic around the radio and door armrests, silver plastic trim under the radio, and chrome trimmed heater dials. The door armrests have unusual raised speaker supports. To my eyes, it’s a bit of a mish-mash.

Behind the steering wheel is a large central speedometer above a smaller tachometer; and to its left is an orange on black liquid crystal display showing a transmission gear indicator, fuel gauge, outside temperature, clock, trip odometer, average fuel economy, and an Eco light that comes on when the iQ is being driven sedately. These instruments look rather cheap by today’s standards and the LCD is difficult to read.

Below the radio is a simple and functional vertical row of large dials for the heating and ventilation system, and behind it a floor shifter falls readily to hand. Controls for the power windows (both have automatic down) are on the door armrests but a single button for the power door locks is located in the lower centre console next to the shift lever. There, you’ll also find a button for the Bluetooth hands-free phone, USB and auxiliary connections, and the ESC off button. A 12-volt powerpoint is also nearby.

2012 Scion iQ
2012 Scion iQ
2012 Scion iQ
2012 Scion iQ. Click image to enlarge

Interior storage spaces are limited to an open bin at the bottom of the centre stack and two door pockets: there’s no glovebox or centre storage bin. Of course, with one or both of the rear seatbacks folded down, there is quite a bit of storage space close at hand.

The rear hatch is very light and lifts up easily, revealing a tiny space behind the rear seats under which is a hidden compartment. Fold down one of the rear seatbacks and you can fit an overnight bag or a backpack; fold down both rear seats and you could fit a couple of large suitcases.

Despite it small size, or perhaps because of it, the iQ offers eleven airbags: two front airbags, two knee airbags, two seat-mounted side airbags, two overhead curtain airbags, two front seat cushion airbags to prevent the driver and passenger from “submarining” under the dash, and a rear window airbag to provide more protection in a rear-ender. As of this writing, neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had crash tested the iQ.

For its $16,760 price, the iQ is fairly well equipped with a standard CVT, 16-inch tires, air conditioning, stereo with six speakers, Bluetooth, leather wrapped steering wheel, split folding rear seats, power door locks with keyless locking/unlocking, power windows, heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signals, rear wiper and eleven airbags. The only big omissions are cruise control and a sunroof.

Available options include the premium stereo, satellite radio, front fog lights, alloy wheels, lowering springs, rear sway bar, cargo net, and hood deflector.

While it’s true you can buy a base Mazda2, Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent or Honda Fit for less than a Scion iQ, a comparably equipped model will come to one or two thousand dollars more. But you can’t compare apples and oranges: like the Smart Fortwo, the iQ is an urban lifestyle car with an appeal that transcends value for money and utility – well, at least in the under $20,000 category.

Pricing: 2012 Scion iQ
  • Base price: $16,760
  • Options: $670 (TRD rear sway bar $350; rear spoiler $320)
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Freight: $1,390
  • Price as tested: $18,920

  • Buyer’s Guide: 2012 Scion iQ

  • Buyer’s Guide: Smart Fortwo
  • Buyer’s Guide: Fiat 500

    Crash test results
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
  • Connect with Autos.ca