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2012 Scion iQ Week-Long Review By Michael Bernstein

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2012 Scion iQ…Smart yes, Mensa no.
by Michael Bernstein
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

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Upon first sight of the IQ, Scion’s latest sub compact looks more like a golf cart than a road worthy car, I thought my editor had made a mistake, how else could I explain why it was me, a full grown man of athletic size, that was looking then staring at this little, odd redish car-thingy that was in my driveway and awaiting my test drive.

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Yet the longer my eyes were cast upon the actual vehicle the more I liked it. It was small, yes but not the size of the swag iQ shown which was given to the international press during the iQ intro at the Paris Auto Show a few years ago.(Photo by Marty Bernstein.) Small the iQ is, but surprisingly size was beginning not to matter to me as I discovered just how muscular and attractive it was. I wanted in!

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Upon opening the door I was greeted by a very generous interior cabin that contained a dash and two front seats. The true beauty of the IQ is not what you are missing, like space, but rather what features and amenities the IQ possess: outstanding quality, great looks and a superior performance that comes with an ease of operation that was, quite frankly, rather refreshing.

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You don’t need a Rosetta Stone to operate the IQ. In fact Scion has simplified the driving experience by drastically reducing the clutter and after getting behind the wheel I started to realize that this car is different and different is good. The iQ is powered by an efficient 94-hp engine and a CVT transmission , delivering a camel-like combined EPA 37 mpg rating. The electronic power steering is, as one might expect, agile and responsive and its 10’ length makes it an easy car to park. For those concerned about safety, the iQ has 11 standard air bags.

Among the differences from a full size vehicles is the lack of a glove box, center arm rest, back seat or trunk space for that matter, but what is there was real cool and not bad looking either interior. The center water fall was beautiful in its simplicity, topped by a video information screen that is mounted high on the angular center dashboard; it then flowed downward to spotlight the other controls that front the driver and then ending at the vehicle’s gear shifter.

Contrasting colors, textures and fabrics of the interior surfaces was amazing and added to the appeal of the IQ. The front seats featured a solid black cloth backing that was paired with a plaid inspired print that adorned the cushion of both seats. The door panels continue this trend of using contrast but this time it’s in a monochromatic manner that used subtle hues of black.

The interior is edgy but classy and the radical trim lines that constitute the borders between the different materials used in its construction and that form its cabin highlight the IQ’s unique attraction. The video screen is housed in body adored with what can only be described as a glitter cast to its outer surface that came and went with the changing light of the day.

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This simplicity is extended to the vehicle information clusters and the displays and gauges they contain. Believe it or not there are only three total displays. That’s it. The speedometer and tach are centered perfectly above and behind the steering wheel, to the driver’s left is a led display and then there is the aforementioned video screen, sans navi and back up cam, and that makes up the entirety of it.

Lastly the Pioneer audio system added greatly to the overall interior environment, but enough on the interior because while its important in most vehicles it is especially true with the IQ because doing anything other than driving yourself and all the baggage we tote around these days is impossible with this car.

Don’t get me wrong there is enough room for two adult passengers but that’s about it. Thankfully there is ample room for the driver and that is all that matters because as it turned out the IQ was a blast to drive. Not only because this little car turned more heads and generated a buzz where ever I went, but also because the IQ was truly a roadworthy car that performed on the highway and the driveways of suburbia.

Really I wasn’t even out of the car in some instances before complete strangers would ask things like “what is it?” or “How did you fit in there”, as they pushed past me to look inside. That kind of reaction to a car is usually reserved for exotic sports cars, not one with an MSRP a little north of fifteen grand.

That being said I can’t help but notice the overall lack of usable space and frankly question the practical nature of a vehicle that has a maximum cargo capacity of one whole propane tank.

So in the final analysis of the intelligence of Scion’s latest sub compact, it’s about what is measurable that determines smarts. So instead of emphasizing what is missing, I chose to reward what I experienced and as it turned out, that was smart enough for me. The Scion iQ pricing starts at $15,265 with lots of interesting options and trim packages available at extra cost.