It is not often that a car can accurately be described as cute, and considered a compliment. However, the Scion iQ hatchback is just that, a cute micro-car that Toyota's younger brand name hopes will appeal to the hip, urban driver looking for a city car. The iQ is officially known as a micro subcompact. It is marketed towards urban buyers who need little more than a pair of seats and a bit of cargo room. While most people are just learning of it, the iQ has been motoring around Europe and Japan for a few years, under the Toyota brand.
The car measures in at a miniature 10 feet long. That may not sound small but the truth is that it is 6 feet shorter than a Toyota Camry. Meanwhile, the Smart Fortwo is a foot shorter, and is not as fancy as the Scion iQ hatchback in terms of what it has to offer.
The iQ is strong in almost every way the Smart Fortwo is weak. Driving this Scion on the freeway at full speed reveals none of the scary feeling that you're strapped to the front of a baseball fired out of a pitching machine, the way you feel when you're driving the Fortwo. The Scion drives like a much heavier car, due to smart engineering. The car is stable and well grounded, and only when you step hard on the brakes at high speed does the car become a little troubled. In fact, it scored miserably in braking tests as it takes 131 feet to stop from 60 mph, which does come close to competing in this segment.
The Scion iQ Hatchback is powered by a 1.3-liter inline-4 engine that delivers 94 horsepower and 89 pound-feet of torque. It accelerates zero to 60 mph in a sleepy 11.6 seconds. Clearly, this is not a vehicle you buy for performance. A continuously variable transmission comes standard, and there are no other options.
As mentioned, braking is lazy. When tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the iQ was given a "Good" rating in overall crash tests, but only received an "Acceptable" in frontal-offset and "Marginal" in side-impact. These are not impressive results. It does have a few thoughtful safety features though, such as child seat anchors, emergency braking assist, turn signal mirrors, stability and traction control, tire pressure monitoring and electronic brakeforce distribution.