The 2012 Scion iQ is an interesting experiment from the quirky, youth-oriented automaker. Scion has positioned the iQ as a premium competitor to the few other sub-sub-compact cars currently on the market, such as the Smart fortwo and the FIAT 500, and the vehicle aims to offer a level of style and customization that simply isn't available with those other two models. Is the United States ready for a an urban runabout that makes the argument that size doesn't matter? City drivers would argue the point that yes, a smaller car that is easy to park is worth its weight in gold on crowded and congested streets, and that increased maneuverability and solid fuel mileage are well worth paying for.
Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2012 Scion iQ.
There's no doubt that the first visual impact made by the 2012 Scion iQ is just how tiny the car appears to be as you walk towards it. The Scion iQ might be roughly a foot longer than the Smart Fortwo, but the microcar is significantly smaller than every other subcompact on the market. Dubbed a "micro" subcompact, the Scion's diminutive proportions make it ideal for fording dense urban traffic, and its 78.7-inch wheelbase and short front and rear overhangs allow it to park in spots reserved for motorcycles and scooters. Scion has done an excellent job of keeping the iQ's sheet metal interesting despite the small canvas, and the automobile's sculpted front bumpers, elegantly flat roofline and swept rear glass keep the eye interested for longer than just the brief few seconds required to take the subcompact in.02. The 2012 Scion iQ is Big on the Inside
The biggest surprise in store for those who test drive the 2012 Scion iQ is just how practical its passenger compartment actually is. The Scion iQ has been given what Scion is calling "3+1" seating, which means that the front two seats are offset to give the right rear passenger some much-needed legroom. Combined with the iQ's ultra-thin seatbacks, the subcompact is a legitimate three-seater, with additional space behind the driver to either stash a shorter passenger for abbreviated trips, or to stack additional cargo. Folding down the backseat opens up 16.7 cubic feet of total "trunk" space, which is actually larger than the storage room offered by several mid-size automobiles.03. The 2012 Scion iQ Is Affordable
The 2012 Scion iQ has been priced at an MSRP of $15,265. While not bargain basement cheap, the Scion iQ is certainly an affordable subcompact option that matches several competitors in its class in terms of cost. Although the Scion iQ's sticker might have some shoppers comparing it against roomier automobiles, or cars which offer more horsepower, the concept behind the micro car is that drivers are truly paying for the practicality of such a small package, something that is especially valuable to those who find themselves plying city streets as part of their daily commute.04. The 2012 Scion iQ Offers Four-Cylinder Power
The 2012 Scion iQ features a healthy four-cylinder gasoline engine under the hood, forgoing the temptation to drop down to three cylinders or adopt a turbodiesel design. The 1.3-liter unit makes use of Toyota's VVT-i variable valve timing, as well as four valves per cylinder for better breathing and a high compression ratio. All of this adds up to a total output of 94 horsepower and 89 lb-ft of torque, more than enough to scoot the lightweight Scion iQ around town with little or no effort. The iQ's curb weight of just over 2,000 lbs is a genuine asset that allows for better than average performance without the need for gobs of power.05. The 2012 Scion iQ is Frugal at the Fuel Pump
The 2012 Scion iQ's lightness also plays an important role when it comes to providing excellent fuel economy. The Scion iQ delivers 36-mpg in stop and go driving - where it has been designed to spend most of its time - and 37-mpg during highway cruising. All told, this gives the Scion iQ a combined fuel mileage rating of 37-mpg, allowing the subcompact to claim the title of the most fuel efficient gasoline-only automobile on sale in the United States. The iQ's continuously-variable automatic transmission also plays an important role in delivering the vehicle's impressively efficient EPA rating.06. The 2012 Scion iQ Offers A High Level of Standard Gear
Like most Scion offerings, the 2012 Scion iQ is sold in a single trim level that offers a good starting point in terms of standard equipment. All versions of the Scion iQ are outfitted with items such as power windows and door locks, a leather-wrapped steering wheel (that features stereo controls), a CD player, USB and AUX input, HD radio and Bluetooth connectivity. Air conditioning and 16-inch wheels are also included free of charge, as are a remote keyless entry system, projector headlights and an LED multi-information display mounted in the dash just in front of the driver.07. The 2012 Scion iQ Can Be Loaded Up With Accessories
The 2012 Scion iQ allows for extensive customization through Scion's highly developed accessory program. The iQ's entry-level trim is intended to serve as a starting point for creative owners to fully express themselves using a wide range of different stylish - and functional - add-ons. The Scion iQ can be dressed up with a full FIVE:AD aero kit that gives the subcompact a sporty attitude, and a number of other exterior pieces of flair, such as a rear spoiler, fog lights and lower door moldings are also available. Inside, illuminated door sills, a navigation system and a full interior light kit can be installed, and the vehicle's performance can be enhanced through the addition of TRD suspension components and upgraded wheels.08. The 2012 Scion iQ Is Safe
The 2012 Scion iQ has been thoroughly engineered to offer an outstanding level of safety, which is a legitimate concern in the minds of many buyers interested in such a small automobile. The iQ features 10 standard airbags, with the traditional front and side curtain units complemented by seat-mounted front airbags, two front knee airbags and even a rear-window curtain airbag - the first of its kind in the United States. The Scion subcompact also comes with electronic stability control and traction control, giving it a fighting chance of avoiding an accident in the first place.09. The 2012 Scion iQ is an Agile Urban Performer
The 2012 Scion iQ's short wheelbase, ballet-dancer lightness and stubby front and rear bumpers make it a natural go-kart, an easy to drive, point and shoot style handler that can dart through traffic with ease. Add in the Toyota Racing Development lowering springs and upgraded TRD rear sway bar and the mini-car's cornering ability is elevated to an entirely new level. Although the iQ would never be mistaken for a sports car, its natural size advantage makes it more fun to pilot than a typical subcompact automobile, and as with most Scion cars the performance aftermarket is also likely to embrace the pint-sized two-door.10. The 2012 Scion iQ Is A Premium Subcompact
The 2012 Scion iQ is positioned as a premium subcompact car, a vehicle that is designed to be judged not on how much smaller it is compared to other automobiles in its price range, but rather how that size differential can benefit a very specific group of buyers. The iQ's interior has been designed to provide an upscale feel in terms of the use of soft-touch materials and an open passenger compartment that makes excellent use of space, while the attention to detail with regard to the Scion's exterior styling raises the iQ's first impression past the entry level.
Learn more about the all-new 2012 Scion iQ.