2011 Scion iQ

By July 6, 2010
2011 Scion iQ
On Sale: Early 2011
Expected Pricing: $11,500-$16,000

The 2011 Scion iQ goes on sale in the spring of 2011. Scion iQ is a city car, a microsubcompact.

When it hits the streets, it will be America's second city car, joining the Smart ForTwo in that role. City cars like the iQ are more familiar in Europe and other markets outside North America. These micro-subcompacts are much smaller than subcompacts sold in the United States, such as the Scion xD, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, and Nissan Versa.

Sometimes with space for just two passengers and their belongings, city cars are designed to be economical to operate and easy to maneuver and park in crowded urban centers. Micro-subcompacts must meet all government crash-protection standards.

At a length of precisely 10 feet, the 2011 Scion iQ will be about a foot longer than the Smart ForTwo. Yet it's 3.5 feet shorter than a Honda Fit, three feet shorter than a Chevy Aveo hatchback and more than two feet shorter than a Mini Cooper. The iQ's wheelbase (78.7 inches) is only a foot longer than its track (the distance between its front or rear wheels), so its four tires are spaced in something close to a square.

The iQ cuts a similar profile to the Smart ForTwo, though its design is a bit more angular. Its top edge rises from big, bold headlights up the windshield pillars, then drops dramatically at the rear hatch. A high beltline emphasizes its geometric character.

Inside the iQ, Scion has devised what it calls 3+1 seating. The driver and front-passenger seats are off-set slightly, with the passenger seat further forward. That makes one adult sized space behind the front passenger. Scion claims the space behind the driver can accommodate a child, small package, or pet. Slim front seatbacks maximize rear-passenger knee room.

The rear seat splits and folds in separate halves, creating a flat load surface. Scion says there's enough cargo space for two standard golf bags.

Using front-wheel drive, the Scion iQ is motivated by a 1.3-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine with Toyota's VVT-i variable valve timing. It will deliver at least 90 horsepower, substantially more than the Smart ForTwo's smaller three-cylinder engine (70 hp). Yet thanks to the iQ's continuously variable transmission, we'd expect EPA ratings on par with those for the Smart ForTwo (33 mpg City/41 mpg Highway).

Scion iQ will come standard with a six-speaker stereo, though there will be multiple upgrades for audiophiles. The base system will include USB and auxiliary ports to accommodate hand-held devices, and steering-wheel audio controls will come standard.

Perhaps to address perceptions about extra-small cars, Scion will load the iQ with safety-enhancing features. And we mean load. Active systems to help avoid accidents include electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, and traction control. The level of crash protection will be even more extraordinary.

Each iQ will come with no less than 10 airbags, including the world's first rear-window curtain airbag. This drops from the roof for head protection in the event of a rear-end collision. Other airbags include front-impact airbags, driver and front-passenger seat-mounted side airbags, side-curtain airbags front and rear, and driver and front-passenger knee airbags.

Scion has been vague about iQ launch dates, but consumers in the company's top selling regions of the U.S. could see the first copies just after the new year, 2011.

Pricing is a bigger conjecture. We'd guess a base price of $12,000 or a bit less, with loaded models potentially hitting $18,000 or so. The new iQ was first shown in production form at the New York Auto Show in April 2010.