Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Scion IQ - Small Wonder
By NATALIE BROOKS
In a downsized economy, less is more and sometimes big things come in small packages, 10-foot-long packages. Standing not so tall, measuring at just over 59”, Scion’s 2012 “premium micro-subcompact” is just that, a big step to downsizing for American consumers.
At a whopping 66.1” wide and weighing in at 2,127 lbs, the newest addition to Scion’s family geared to young buyers and urbanites is all about “intelligent quality,” appropriately titled the iQ.
Simple and straightforward, Scion’s subcompact creation adds new “IQ” to the generation of smart cars with its concentrated design for intelligence, innovation, individuality, and quality.
The Beat was there in refreshing Palm Beach, Fla., for the iQ’s press preview and there are a lot of cool features about this little bundle.
The iQ starts at less than $16,000, an MSRP of $15,995 (which includes delivery fee).
It has a 1.3-liter, 94-hp engine and a combined mpg of 37, which is economically savvy in today’s gas consumption but a little low for a car of this size.
The modern look of the iQ, described as “Techno-Organic Design,” is slick and spunky. The exterior is clean and simple including elongated front headlights that give the illusion the nose of the car extends beyond its compact size.
Alloy-finish side mirrors with mounted turn signals, an LED brake light mounted above rear window wiper and extended A-pillars to help create an open passenger cabin modernize its design. Inside, the less-is-more motto continues with a black dash and door tops.
Front seat bottoms are form fitting and covered in a deep gray cloth patterned with light gray ovals. The leather-wrapped manual tilt steering is lined with red-stitching and features a flat-bottom for optimal leg room with audio controls and mode button.
Interior features include front console cup holder, two rear cup holders, four 25 oz. drink bottle holders, remote keyless entry, auxiliary 12v power outlet, first aid kit, rear window wiper, sun visor mirrors, and electric rear hatch release.
One possible disadvantage of the sleek look is the speedometer display, which is challenging to read with its positioning slightly tilted on its side and can be a bit distracting when trying to gauge speed while driving.
The Scion drive monitor, placed left of the speedometer, is a little cluttered to read, displaying fuel level, instant/average fuel mileage, average speed, outside temp, resettable trip meters, odometer, digital clock, and CVT indicator.
The iQ’s interior is also modified to accentuate the theme of “Big Ideas Concentrated” with an asymmetric dashboard and seating design. Center console is clean and simple with a single air conditioning dial, an LCD display, and audio CD slot. The 3+1 seating, driver, two adult passengers, and the fourth seating position behind driver ideally intended as room for a child, makes the iQ the world’s smallest four seater.
Engineering behind the iQ relies on the idea that “a car should not be any bigger than it really has to be.” With this idea in mind, six engineering innovations make the iQ possible, such as a flat gas tank housed beneath the floor reducing rear overhang and slim-back front seats for optimal rear legroom.
These innovations also allow for Scion’s new subcompact to maintain as much extra space as possible for a car of its size. A mini storage bin is placed under the front passenger seat and the 50/50 folded seatbacks give the option of riding with a third passenger as well as storage space.
The rear cargo floor is formed by the lid of a removable storage tray, hiding the second storage area formed in Styrofoam that holds owner’s manual, first aid kit, and tire repair system. The backseat completely folded forms a flat cargo surface. iQ’s maximum EPA cargo capacity is 16.7 cubic feet and with rear seats upright the iQ has just over 3.5 cubic ft of cargo space.
Still, for claustrophobics and urbanites traveling outside of the inner city, the-little-car-that-can isn’t a realistic option to pack enough storage space for anything that requires extra room for three or more passengers and luggage such as camping equipment.
Nevertheless, for those driving a local distance with little baggage the iQ is easy to drive and easy to park with a turning radius of 12.9 feet with electronic power steering.
As part of the personalization options the iQ offers three audio systems, Standard, Premium, and Navigation.
Standard Audio includes Bluetooth hands-free and audio, HD radio, scion sound processing, USB/AUX, steering-wheel mounted controls, CD player with mp3 and WMA capability, four speakers, two in center console and two full range mounted in doors.
Premium Audio includes all standard features plus 200 watts max power, 5.8” TFT touch screen, Pandora internet radio capability, album art, iTunes Tagging, and six RCA outputs.
Scion Navigation System Audio includes all standard features plus 7.0” touch screen, iTunes tagging, six RCA outputs, DVD player, ipod video via USB connector, full navigation system GPS based on SD card, and video input for connecting with aftermarket backup camera.
iQ owners also have a choice of two wheel covers, 16-inch steel wheels, or 175/60R-16 all season tires. More dealership accessories available are fog lights, alloy wheels, lowering kit, rear spoiler and whatever personalizing ideas the buyer can imagine.
With its “mini-me” capabilities, the iQ stands apart from the subcompact prototype, making the iQ a unique city car of its kind.
Driving the urban minded car is a quiet ride, especially for a car that looks like it’d be swallowed up by the road. This is thanks to an acoustic windshield built to decrease sound frequencies.
As far as safety features for a little car in a big world, the iQ’s Star Safety System includes anti-lock braking system, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, smart stop technology, traction control, and enhanced vehicles stability control. It also boasts the most airbags in the industry with 11 standard airbags, including the world’s first rear window airbags.
The micro-subcompact car segment is redefined by the iQ as Scion introduces its concept of “New Urbanism,” a vehicle for a more progressive buyer whose transportation needs and desires are changing
with today’s evolving concerns like consumption control and the environment. This will launch Scion’s niche for innovation into another element of authenticity, community and personalization for the rising generations of buyers and although a few tweaks may prove necessary, the iQ is definitely a big step for subcompact kind.
Be sure to look out for the iQ, which will be released in waves starting on the West Coast, dipping down into the Southeast and Gulf states area, followed by New York, then completing its sweep in the East Coast and Midwest in March.