As the resident big guy on our team, my colleagues thought it would be a fun change of pace to assign me what is possibly one of the smallest vehicles on the road, the 2014 Scion iQ Series 10. Scion, a subsidiary of Toyota, has created the iQ to compete with cars such as Smart ForTwo. The ForTwo is its main (and pretty much only) competitor in the micro-car segment. But has Scion been able to pack enough of what buyers really need and want into such a small amount of space? Well the answer is yes… and no. The iQ has managed to grow on me over the course of my test week, and also intrigue me into how it really feels to live with a vehicle of such small dimensions. This year, Scion has added their “Series 10” release series to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the brand, and we have been fortunate enough to test a few of the unique models.
As with nearly all vehicle purchases, the first thing a buyer is going to notice is the exterior. With the iQ, you get a car that is much better-looking than the Smart. Unlike the Smart’s ability to look like a toy, the iQ looks like a proper car while being half the size of one. It has a mean-looking front grill and fascia, full-size doors, unique swooped rear windows, and in the case of this Series 10 edition, 16-inch graphite alloy wheels. Sharing its powertrain with the regular iQ, the Series 10 buzzes along with its 1.3L 4-cylinder that pumps out a whopping 94-horsepower and is coupled to a CVT transmission. My personal favourite feature unique to the Series 10 iQ is the addition of illuminated front and rear Scion emblems. Although somewhat gimmicky, the glowing blue underlay on the logos makes the little car stand out in any parking lot.
Moving on to the interior, the most surprising thing is just how roomy the front seating area is, especially when you consider the overall size of the iQ. I don’t know what type of magic Scion has up their sleeve, but the difference in size from the exterior to the interior of this thing is absolutely unbelievable. Two six-footers can sit comfortably in the front for extended periods. The dashboard is flat and large, adding to the airiness of the interior. The centre stack is put together vertically as opposed to horizontally, and this aids in overall legroom. As with almost any Scion product, the interior looks very tuner-friendly – a Pioneer deck is standard (although can be upgraded to a touch screen version) and more blue glowing lights on either side of the centre stack spell out “Scion” as you enter or exit the vehicle.
The driving position is great, and your view is unobstructed in almost every angle. The one caveat there is that the rear headrests take up the entire back window. Luckily, they lift right out to help with rearward visibility. It’s important to note that putting them in the trunk literally fills it up. Yes; with nothing more than two headrests and the owner’s manual. Where the front area excels in space, the back seat looks like it was meant for a backpack, or two bags of groceries. I put a laptop sleeve in the trunk behind the rear seat, and it slid in the 1.5” gap perfectly. There is literally no more room. Then again, those looking for a micro-car typically don’t complain about trunk space. Chevrolet will gladly sell you a Spark that will fit marginally more things in the back.
So far, so good then – the Scion iQ is a sporty, quirky looking car with excellent sightlines, and larger than possible interior space. So what’s the catch? Well, observed fuel mileage during the week (although 95% was city driving) was 7.1L/100km. Impressive, yes, but for half-a-vehicle I was expecting numbers similar to hybrids. As for the price, it seems to think it’s more of a sub-compact Fiat 500, Honda Fit, or Ford Fiesta competitor. The base model iQ starts at just over $17,000. My limited-edition Series 10 was priced at $19,665. In all honesty, for just under $20K, I would want a bit more size. Even at the very same Scion dealer where you can purchase the iQ, they have the xD. The xD starts at just over $17,000 and has a fully usable backseat and a trunk. Its fuel economy is also similar.
The iQ then, is more of a gimmick. A very cool one, but a gimmick none the less. It’s something you buy for the size factor. You buy one with your heart, not your brain. It certainly stands out in a crowd, and makes zipping around the crowded streets of Toronto as simplistic as possible. The iQ’s tight turning radius makes u-turns an absolute blast. On top of that, it’s definitely impressive that they actually managed to squeeze in a back seat, no matter how useless it may be. The Smart car may have been the first in the segment, but it’s no longer the best.
2014 Scion iQ Series 10 Gallery