Base Price (MSRP):$15,265.00 / As Tested (MSRP): $19,217.00
View The 2012 Scion IQ Specifications
| Review by: Laura Burstein
New microcar big inside, small outside.
The 2012 Scion IQ ($15,265) comes in one trim level with air conditioning, cloth upholstery, power door locks, windows and outside mirrors, a leather-wrapped, tilt steering wheel with audio controls, 50/50 split folding rear seats, trip computer, leather-wrapped shift knob, Bluetooth handsfree phone system and a four-speaker, 160-watt Pioneer audio system with HD radio, single MP3/WMA CD player, USB and auxiliary audio ports.
Accessories include 16-inch alloy wheels, wheel locks, fog lights, body side moldings, mudguards, a rear spoiler and paint protection film. Toyota Racing Development offers TRD lowering springs and TRD anti-sway bars. Interior accessories include floor mats, cargo mat, cargo net and a seven-color interior light kit.
An optional 200-watt Pioneer premium audio system is available with a 5.8-inch LCD touch-screen display, Pandora live audio streaming, and six RCA outputs to add external amplifiers. The navigation system will get you the same audio setup with a seven-inch touch-screen LCD display.
Safety features standard on the 2012 Scion IQ include 11 airbags (driver- and front-passenger airbags; driver- and front-passenger seat-mounted side airbags; side curtain airbags; driver- and front-passenger knee airbags; driver- and front-passenger seat-cushion airbags; and a rear-window airbag, an industry first), antilock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, traction control, electronic stability control, and brake-override.
Aggressive-looking for its size, the IQ's styling elicits more respect on the road than a Smart ForTwo hatchback, but lacks the panache of the retro-inspired Fiat 500 or Mini Cooper. The Scion brand skews heavily male, so it's no surprise the IQ?s creators favored strong lines and geometric angles over bubbly cuteness.
To make the IQ seem less diminutive, Scion designers took a chance by straying from typical vehicle proportions. Although only 10 feet long, the IQ is unusually wide for a car in its segment.
One of the biggest challenges in creating the smallest vehicles is designing a cabin spacious enough to accommodate taller drivers without inducing claustrophobia attacks on passengers. But the 2012 Scion IQ achieves this with relative ease. The cabin feels surprisingly airy, and Scion tells us the space between the front seats is larger than that of Toyota's Yaris or Corolla models. The front passenger seat is offset with a track that sits farther forward to give the passenger behind better legroom. Scion also ditched a proper glove compartment for a plastic box underneath the passenger seat that slides in and out, albeit flimsily.
Thinner seatbacks eek out a little extra legroom, but they're comfortable enough that you won't miss the extra padding. Rear seats split and fold down 50/50 and offer enough space for a couple of large suitcases.
Total cargo room is rated at 16.7 cubic feet with the rear seats flat.
The instrument cluster, like other Scions, is simple and attractive, with a pleasing and easy-to-read blue lighting scheme. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is substantial and feels good in hand. We liked the wheel-mounted audio controls, but wish there were also a button to access to the Bluetooth hands-free phone feature.
Climate controls consist of three large, vertically placed knobs on the center stack that are easy to see and reach. Audio controls vary depending on what system you choose. On base and premium versions, controls are adequate and are easy to use once you get the hang of what everything does. On systems equipped with the optional navigation, buttons are integrated into the touchscreen display.
Sound quality from the Pioneer audio system is fair, but even with the 200-watt upgraded stereo it's nothing to write home about. But, since Scion customers tend to be big on customization, we expect music aficionados will roll with aftermarket speakers anyway.
We drove a prototype of the 2012 Scion IQ equipped with navigation, the premium audio system, and TRD suspension elements. The comparatively wider track kept the IQ feeling stable, even at freeway speeds. Acceleration is steady and smooth with the1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine, and had just enough oomph to make it up steep hills laden with two svelte adults. We expect a full load would give the 94-hp car a strenuous workout.
Sharp steering and a tiny turning circle of only 13 feet make for some snappy maneuvers in parking lots and through city streets. We nearly lost our lunch circling a roundabout in our IQ in what turned out to be just a few too many times.
Our biggest complaint about the 2012 Scion IQ is the continuously variable transmission (CVT). While good for fuel economy and not as gutless as some incarnations, it robbed the IQ of its potential pep. We'd love to see a manual option in the U.S. in hopes the IQ could emulate any of the famous go-kart handling found in the Mini Cooper. Still, the CVT in the 2012 Scion IQ is miles ahead of the angst-inducing sequential gearbox found on the Smart ForTwo, which with every shift simulates the movement of whiplash in uber-slow-motion.
The TRD springs and sway bar on our Scion IQ made the car feel a little more sporty and hunkered down compared to the base model. MacPherson struts up front and a compact torsion beam suspension kept the ride relatively smooth and controlled, but it was rough riding over railroad tracks.
Ventilated disc brakes in front and drums in rear stopped the car without any drama.
If you're looking for a tiny city car that won't get you beat up or laughed at, the Scion IQ is one of the better choices out there. Still, it's wise to consider larger choices for the money as long as size doesn't matter.
Laura Burstein filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report from San Francisco.