Scion's iQ is Bigger on the Inside


I’d seen a number of articles about Toyota’s little iQ city car (which is being marketed to US customers through the Scion brand) but generally focused on its Aston-Martin derivative, called it a generic-brand Smart, or ignored it altogether.  On to more exciting cars, like the Volt, Leaf, and SLS Mercedes, you know?

When I walked up to the little iQ on display in Scion’s Chicago booth, then, imagine my surprise to discover that I was wrong.  So wrong, in fact, that I am seriously considering getting in line for one of these instead of the CR-Z I’d been previously contemplating.  Here’s why:

  1. Scion’s iQ doesn’t feel like a generic-brand Smart.  It doesn’t even feel like a Smart, at least from its stationary position in McCormick Place.  The doors close with a proper “chunk”.  The knobs feel like they have some substance.  The seats feel … car-like?  The whole thing feels just like a car.  Not a microcar or a citycar or a Swatch-watch, but a real car.  The fact that the car has a tiny footprint didn’t enter my mind, but the roominess of the thing did.
  2. The projected price of the iQ, at around 15k USD, is totally in line with the Smart, which feels much more toy-like.  It also undercuts the CR-Z by several thousand dollars without costing more at the pump.
  3. The iQ has rear seats.  Not cavernous rear seats, mind you, but certainly there is enough room for a small family to scoot around town or head over to grandma’s for the afternoon (as long as it’s not too far away).  That, right there, beats the CR-Z’s 2-passenger capacity without forcing potential buyers into “responsible car-buying / responsible adulthood” too quickly.
  4. Last, but not least, the iQ has a look to it.  It’s not a timeless GTO Ferrari or slinky E-type Jag, but it’s got a wide track, aggressive rubber, and a general “shoulderyness” to it that seems to say “let’s go have fun!”  I wouldn’t be surprised if the people who bought iQs were the same type of people who named inanimate objects – it’s that likable.

So, there it is.  My very brief review of what was the unexpected hit of the 2011 Chicago Auto Show for me – I fully intend to follow up these initial (stationary) impressions with a full review as soon as these are available for road-tests.

Source:  2011 Chicago Auto Show.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.