Reporting Vinnie Richichi
PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — I’ve got to admit, I was all prepared not to like the Scion iQ minicar. I have been around long enough to remember the Isetta and the Messerschmitt… two mini city cars from the ’50s that were unique in that the only way in and out was through a door that opened the front of the car. The Smart Fortwo and the Scion iQ are the modern day minis. Just enough car to get you and someone else where you need to go around town, use gas with an eyedropper, fit into the smallest of parking spaces and zip through urban traffic with the greatest of ease.
After a week in the Scion, I am going to admit something I never thought I would. I kind of like it!
I was ready for a slow, underpowered, soft riding cramped bumpfest that was going to make me feel like I slept in a phone booth for a week. What I wound up with was a solid-driving, zippy, little people mover that was not only fun to drive but held it’s own on the interstate, on the back roads and best of all on the city streets.
Looking at the outside, the Scion iQ is well… small. Taller than it is wide, it has a unique shape that makes it instantly recognizable. It carries its 120 inch length quite well. A stubby sloping front with large headlamps and a short rear makes you think of the original VW Bug though not retro in any sense of the word.
Inside, the iQ has a back seat and you can use it… or at least part of it. The dash is designed so that the passenger seat can move forward and someone of average height can actually sit in the back seat although I wouldn’t want to be the one to do it! Interior design is pleasing and actually looks a lot more expensive that the mid-teens sticker price of the iQ. The front seats are surprisingly supportive and comfortable
Moving around the urban jungle the 94 horses and automatic CVT transmission of the iQ work quite well. The car is responsive in zipping through traffic and handles nicely even on rain soaked streets. Where the iQ really blew me away though was on a quick trip to Cleveland.
I dreaded taking such a small car on the interstate… geez if I stretch my arm out I can touch the rear glass. I figured that this thing was going to be all over the place. Well wrong was I! The iQ had more than enough gumption to cruise up the turnpike a few bars over the speed limit and handled quite confidently doing it. The small engine seemed to be cranking at high RPMs but it didn’t seem to be huffing and puffing too much. Handling wise there was no drift, no waver, the iQ felt as solid on the open road as any one of its somewhat bigger brothers like a Yaris or even a Corolla.
The worst part of the trip was when I pulled into a crowded parking garage. I pulled all the way up in a space and people kept pulling into the space only to see the car halfway into it. Had to remember to keep it toward the back of the space!
Sticker price on the Scion iQ I drove $18,476 with the premium audio package and some other goodies and gas mileage checked in at 36 city/ 37 highway MPG but the real mileage on the Cleveland trip was in the high 20’s.
If you don’t need a lot of car, not going to carry a lot of stuff or passengers, are parking space challenged and want to make a statement that says big is out, tiny is in or funky looking is cool then the Scion iQ is a car you should look at. It is a car for modern times in which for some people smaller is better and I can’t imagine smaller getting any better than the Scion iQ.