If you eagerly awaited the Smart Fortwo but were disappointed by how it drove, cheer up; the 2012 Scion iQ might restore your faith in micro cars once again. The internationally acclaimed iQ (Green Car of the Year (2010), UK Environmental Transport Association Car of the Year (2008), Japan’s Car of the Year, Japan's Good Design Award (2008), etc.) is ready, willing and able to compete with the likes of the Smart Fortwo, Fiat 500 and even the Mini Cooper . Scion’s iQ proves that offering seating for four in a vehicle only slightly larger than a Smart doesn’t have to result in neglected driving dynamics. And you can be certain of its green cred too: its 37 mpg is the best combined fuel economy of any non-hybrid. It represents major functionality in a small package and a way for Americans to wean themselves off super-sized vehicles. Of course, the iQ isn’t a feasible option for everyone, but its many features - not to mention its 11 standard airbags! – make living with a small car more of a reality than it has ever been in the past.
What's to Like
The looks are hip and edgy, but not too much to push people away. A unique 3+1 seating layout is new to our car market and helps maximize space efficiently. The iQ is one of few cars that can pull off the color “Hot Lava”. Returns 37 mpg combined, and has an impressive turning radius. The number of cabin features for the $16k price is impressive.
What's Not to Like
A small package does require compromises, and the iQ isn't as roomy as some comparably priced cars. The U.S. won't get the manual transmission option offered in Europe and Asia. No hybrid/electric option (for now) to please the greenies either. Rear crash protection might be a concern for rear passengers despite the industry-first rear curtain airbag. The magic 40 mpg would have been an impressive target to meet.
Pulling away from a parallel parking spot for the first time is surreal thanks to the iQ’s absurdly small turning radius. City drivers will never have to make a multi-point turn again. The seating position is currently one of Toyota’s best, and the steering wheel is well contoured with a high quality feel. The seats hold you well enough when you toss the car into a sharp bend, while the CVT ensures you are at the optimum rpm to maximize acceleration. A good suspension setup creates stable platform that makes the car feel predicable driven at the limit of traction, while the narrow tires add economy and have the welcomed side effect of giving you the sense of going faster than you truly are. With all the add-ons Scion will likely offer and the strong aftermarket support already overseas, this car will be a great platform for driving enthusiasts who want to make a statem...