Speaking of all these small cars, we finally get to our Asian friends: the Scion iQ, or the Toyota iQ if you want to call it what it is. What our North American version lacks is manual transmission for the real joy of playing with a small nimble car. This little car comes with a 1.3L I4 petrol engine capable of 98 hp. That isn’t a lot, but it’s still more than what you get from the rear wheel drive Smart Fortwo. The iQ is very capable, much like all its Scion family members, but I will come back to that later. The price is shy of $17K and the options stack on in hundreds, but most of them are useless additions to its amazing standard features, so you can just save your money for something else.
Remember to get the alloy rims because they will be worth it compared to the wheel covers on steel rims. As standard, the iQ is equipped with an iPod port and AUX combined with a Pioneer 6-speakers system. I didn’t connect my iPod into the system so I made do with what was on the radio to give those speakers a test – they were good, considering the car is so small.
The seats are very comfortable in the front, and surprisingly it is not that bad in the back seat on the passenger side. For a car only 10ft long, you would not expect the back seats to be more than just a waste of space. Toyota designed it so a third person can sit, albeit while feeling a little cramped, and join in on the road trip. What Toyota has done is to cut back as much space as possible taken up by the big dashboard so the front passenger seat can be moved further forward, giving the back seat behind the passenger seat enough leg room to sit properly. The placement of the fuel tank and all mechanical parts also contributes to the availability of a third seat. With the remaining seat folded down, you can have enough space for a weekend getaway. Let’s not get too technical on how they achieved all that, because that would just bore most of you. Let’s get onto how the iQ feels to drive.
The iQ is quite short and the wheelbase, the distance between the front and back axles, is 6 and a half feet apart. For those of you who have no idea what effect wheelbase length has, let’s use a simple analogy. As you sit in a limo, you will be so comfortable and have a very smooth ride, but you will not expect it to out run anything in mountain roads without any carnage. A longer wheelbase provides stability and comfort in high speeds while a short wheelbase provides handling in bends. But wait, this means the ride of the iQ will be harsh because it’s so short, right? Toyota did some magic and made it very comfortable. The car absorbs bumps very nicely. When you are feeling courageous, test out the speed this little car can achieve going around a curvy road. There will be some under steer going too fast into the bend, but nothing a left foot braking and acceleration would not fix. Still, don’t push too hard because the engine is still only a 1.3L. This little engine, along with the lightweight, accomplishes a combined 37 MPG for a total of 300 miles on a full tank. It is a small tank to save space but I am not complaining. Overall, the iQ is my dream getaway car because it will only hold what I need: my girlfriend and our stuff for a weekend blast down to the beaches.
Now it’s time for what I’ve been holding back about the little iQ. The engine bay can actually fit a 1.6L engine to get over 150 hp. Add on more modifications, such as a sports exhaust system, upgraded ECU, and sport suspensions, and this car will scare not only its occupants, but even the powerful sport cars you are beating. Just like all the Scion vehicles, the iQ will be the best sleeper car since it is very capable of taking on modification without weakening the strength of the structure. So if you see a cute little iQ speeding by you one day, it is probably me having a dream come true!