2012 Scion iQ: It's a Four-Seater
The 2012 Scion iQ “micro-compact” car has been priced at $15,265, and along with its MSRP Scion has released an avalanche of details about the tiny hatchback that provide a fuller picture of what buyers can expect once the Scion iQ goes on sale this fall. The chief take-away points that will interest most potential Scion iQ buyers are that the vehicle is safe despite its size but that it unfortunately comes up short in terms of both practicality and fuel economy.
The 2012 Scion iQ is advertised as a four-seater – in fact, Toyota sells it in other parts of the world under the banner of the “world’s smallest four-seat automobile.” While the vehicle does feature two front buckets and a rear bench, the “3+1” seating designation used in the Scion iQ’s original marketing materials is a far more accurate assessment of just how cozy the mini-hatchback’s interior confines really are. While three adults could conceivably share the iQ’s passenger compartment for short trips, shoehorning in a fourth party could be quite a challenge unless they happen to be a toddler. Unusual for a hatchback, the Scion iQ’s trunk is also quite tiny, showing as only 3.5 cubic feet with the rear seats in position and 16.7 cubic feet with the bench folded forward.
2012 Scion iQ: What's Inside
Presented as such a tiny package, many American drivers are understandably wary when considering how a city car like the Scion iQ would stack up in an accident. Toyota anticipated this issue and elected to cut off safety protests at the pass by installing 11 airbags inside the Scion. In addition to the standard front and side airbags, this eyebrow-raising number of active safety restraints includes a rear window airbag that is meant to protect backseat passengers during a bumper-to-bumper collision. The Scion iQ also comes with a full complement of electronic driving aides, including stability control, traction control and several advanced braking features.
2012 Scion iQ: Performance
Under the hood, the tiny 2012 Scion iQ packs an equally miniature 1.3-liter, four-cylinder engine. Officially, output is rated at 94 horsepower and 89 lb-ft of torque, which given the iQ’s ultra-lightweight design (the vehicle weighs in at just a tick over 2,100 lbs) provides the subcompact with more than enough motivation to merge and pass without causing too many tense moments on the highway. The car’s continuously-variable automatic transmission offers a Sport mode but don’t expect to much in terms of athletics from the commuter vehicle, which is fine given that it was not designed as a thrill ride.
2012 Scion iQ: MPG
Unfortunately, the same low expectations must also be applied to the Scion iQ’s fuel economy figures. 36 miles per gallon city and 37 miles per gallon on the highway are far from impressive for such a small automobile, especially considering the sacrifices in comfort and power that the iQ asks drivers to make. With Toyota’s much larger Yaris hatchback offering 36 miles per gallon on the highway, and the infinitely more practical and fun-to-drive Ford Fiesta showing 40 highway miles per gallon, the Scion iQ’s 37-mpg figure is difficult to defend. Returning 36 miles per gallon during stop and go driving conditions does trump most other compact cars, but both the battery-powered Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid handily beat the iQ in this measure as well.
2012 Scion iQ: Pricing
It is true that neither the Prius nor the Civic Hybrid can be had for $15,265. However, the Ford Fiesta and the Hyundai Accent (36-mpg highway) are actually cheaper than the 2012 Scion iQ. These subcompact competitors are not available with the same level of customization as is traditionally offered with Scion products, nor do they feature quite the same quirky design. That being said, in a segment of the market where practicality must balance with price and fuel efficiency it would seem that the Scion iQ is facing an uphill struggle to win over frugal consumers based primarily on its flash and style – a very similar battle to the one that the smart fortwo city car has already lost.