Test Drive: 2014 Scion iQ 10 car test drives scion
Test Drive: 2014 Scion iQ 10 car test drives scion
2014 Scion 10 iQ. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jacob Black

“It’s a funny little car! That’s my favourite!” My daughter’s excitement was palpable when I picked her up from pre-school. “I like this funny little car Daddy!”

I could see why, too; it’s adorable this little Scion iQ. And tiny. Oh so tiny. Yes, I parked it in a shopping trolley bay at Ikea, and Longos, and No Frills, and the LCBO, and Loblaws. Clichéd? Maybe, but hilarious nonetheless. Equally hilarious was the minuscule interior. With a wheelbase of just 2,000 mm and an overall length of 3,050 it is pretty cramped in there. The total interior volume is a wee-bitty 2,189 L. For comparison, the Corolla’s interior volume is 3,129. So with the car seat installed in the back seat, your small child still ends up being almost alongside you in the cabin, enough to easily hand stuff over, pat her on the leg, hold her hand briefly, and all the other fun parent-child stuff.

In fact, for the first five minutes I really enjoyed having my daughter so close to me while I drove… and then she realized something. Have you ever been kicked in the ribs, full-force, by a 40-pound child, at 100 km/h on a highway? I have. It hurt.

Despite that, I really enjoyed driving the iQ with Maddie. She was enjoying being in the “funny little car”, and I was enjoying the attention from other drivers.

But, if you’re thinking you’d really like to try one of these, do not, whatever you do, go looking at Youtube clips of Hayabusa-powered Smart cars and iQs and other silly city-car madness. I had allowed my expectations to be coloured by those videos – I saw “small” and thought “go-kart!”  The reality is much different.

Test Drive: 2014 Scion iQ 10 car test drives scion Test Drive: 2014 Scion iQ 10 car test drives scion Test Drive: 2014 Scion iQ 10 car test drives scion
2014 Scion 10 iQ. Click image to enlarge

The steering is overboosted and lacklustre, and despite having a stabilizer bar in the front suspension and a torsion beam in the rear, the height of the iQ makes it unstable on tip-in. All of which are totally unfair criticisms (though I make them anyway) because city cars aren’t usually purchased by people who want a fast go-kart style car to punt around in, Scion has that already, it’s called an FR-S. City cars are built for people who live in pokey condos and drive in pokey cities with pokey little parking spaces – these cars are meant to be driven easily in tight confines.

Test Drive: 2014 Scion iQ 10 car test drives scion
Test Drive: 2014 Scion iQ 10 car test drives scion
2014 Scion 10 iQ. Click image to enlarge

The iQ is plenty nippy enough to dart into gaps in traffic. Its 1.3L four-cylinder mated to a CVT (with a misleading gated shifter) hauls all 965 kg up to speed quickly enough to maintain its driver’s pride. There is a lot of CVT noise on the highway, but then there is also a lot of wind noise and wobble – because you’re not really supposed to drive one on the highway.

You can, of course, and it will perform admirably, but I found the iQ most at home punting around the underground carpark of my condo complex, or zipping through peak-hour city traffic.

Rear cargo space is best described with the acronym “LOL”, or if you’re in a bad mood, the idiom, “pffft”. But you can fit a couple of bags of shopping in there. The 50/50 split-fold rear seats fold flat easily enough, and once they’re down you get 473 L of cargo capacity. With one side down I was able to fit my small family’s weekly shopping in with consummate ease, and unexpectedly I found the load floor and tail gate opening to be at the exact right height for me.

So if you’re not buying the iQ for go-kart-like handling and silly behaviour, maybe you want it for fuel economy? At less than 1,000 kg, with a 1.3L engine and a CVT it should be a really good performer – but it’s not. I mean, it is, if you look at it next to, say, a Hummer, but it’s not when you measure your expectations against reality. I could only manage 7.6 L/100 km, and that was after I reset the trip meter to wipe away my first two days of savage driving. The EPA’s figures are underwhelming too, 6.5/6.4/6.4 L/100 km city/highway/combined. The intriguing part of that equation is how close all those numbers are – there is no gulf between highway and city; no matter how or where you drive, the iQ delivers the same consistent numbers. For comparison, a Nissan Versa Note gets 7.6/5.9 city/highway, for a combined rating of 6.7 L/100 km. So if you have any long trips, the iQ is not going to return the sort of fuel economy you’d hope for from a such a wee little fella’.




About Jacob Black

Jacob used to write about motorsport for SPEED TV in Australia but met a girl. Now he writes about road cars in Canada and is married to the girl. He lives a very, very good life. Jacob Black is not a werewolf.