2012 Scion iQ
2012 Scion iQ. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site
Scion Canada

Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

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2012 Scion iQ

Halifax, Nova Scotia – It was not long ago that a size-conscious buyer had only one choice, the Smart Fortwo. Recently, the choice has widened with the clever Fiat 500 and now the 2012 Scion iQ. Where once there was one micro compact, now there are three. What was thought to be a little market for little cars may well be bigger than we think.

What all three have in common is an ultra compact platform that works (and works really well) in an urban, traffic dense – and parking scarce – environment. But their approaches are uniquely different. The Smart is a funky, slim, but aging two-seater design, originally powered by diesel, but gas of late; the Fiat 500 is a retro-take on the original Fiat 500 but with modern amenities and tons of options including a manual transmission; the Scion iQ is simple and unpretentious, but thoroughly modern and singularly focused – on the future.

2012 Scion iQ
2012 Scion iQ. Click image to enlarge

We may love our sport utilities, crossovers, luxury sedans and 500-plus horsepower supercars. We may even embrace the smaller cars, the compacts and the intermediates. But whether we are motivated by performance or practicality, increasingly we are becoming frustrated by the realities of urban mobility – grid lock, bumper to bumper traffic, the scarcity of parking and the cost of driving. Micro cars offer a solution to this conundrum – manoeuvrability, efficiency, affordability and ‘parkability’.

Ask yourself. How much car do you really need? Empty seats and unfilled cargo space cost money. There are purchase costs, environmental costs, insurance costs, maintenance costs and fuel consumption costs. If you are single, a young couple, empty nesters or retired – how big a vehicle do you really need?

Toyota, through its Scion brand, believes it has the answer and it is the iQ, a small, efficient, relatively inexpensive, cheap to operate, easy to drive, easy to park, but well equipped ultra compact car that feels a whole lot bigger and a whole lot fancier that you’d expect a micro compact to be. With intelligent and functional packaging, the iQ offers the comfort and utility buyers expect from a car twice its size.

2012 Scion iQ
2012 Scion iQ. Click image to enlarge

And it’s not very big, just 3045 mm (119.9 in.) long. To put that in perspective, a 2011 Toyota Yaris Hatchback is 3825 mm or 150.6 inches long. But the iQ is as wide as any sub-compact – 1680 mm (66.1 in.) vs. 1695 mm (66.5 in.) for the Yaris.

As a result, the iQ does not feel cramped at all. There is normal leg room and hip room for both driver and passenger. You will not rub shoulders. And despite being short, there is room inside to seat four with reasonable comfort. Alternatively, the iQ offers a significant amount of cargo space with both rear seats folded – 473 litres. The rear passenger seats are split 50/50 leaving room for three adults and half as much cargo. When four are along for the ride, cargo space shrinks to an insignificant 31.1 litres, enough space to squeeze in a briefcase or a couple of bags of groceries.

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