Originally thought to be coming to the U.S. badged as a Toyota, the Scion iQ was eventually chosen to join the relatively small lineup of small cars offered by Toyota's youth-oriented brand - Scion.
Virtually identical to the Toyota iQ that has been on sale in Europe and Japan, the Scion iQ is the world's smallest four-seat vehicle. With a length of just 120.1 inches, the iQ is about half as long as a full-size pickup.
The iQ's functional "3+1" seating layout is the element that allows this subcompact car to lay claim to being the world's smallest four-passenger vehicle. With the driver's and front-passenger's seats being slightly off set, this seating arrangement allows for one adult behind the front passenger and a child, small package, or pet behind the driver.
Powered by a 1.3-liter four-cylinder, the 94-horsepower, 89 lb-ft of torque iQ features variable valve timing and is rated as a ULEV-II vehicle. The little four is mated exclusively to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) for the North American market, good for 36 city, 37 highway miles per gallon.
Engineering innovations like a compact air-conditioning unit, inverted front-mounted differential, and electronic power-steering system with compact steering column, all amount to significant decreases in front-end length. In addition, the iQ is equipped with a flat gas tank housed beneath the floor that reduces rear overhang.
The iQ comes standard with a six-speaker audio system and is available with multiple audio head units for various degrees of audiophiles.
All iQs are outfitted with USB and auxiliary ports, allowing personal devices to be easily integrated into the car. Steering-wheel-mounted controls command the audio system to adjust volume and shuffle through music sources such as CD, AM/FM, auxiliary input, or a library from your iPod or other USB device.
Active safety features include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), an anti-lock brake system (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Traction Control (TRAC).
The iQ comes standard with 11 SRS airbags, including the world's first rear-window curtain airbag. Other airbags include driver- and front-passenger airbags; driver- and front-passenger seat-mounted side airbags; side curtain airbags; driver- and front-passenger knee airbags; and a Scion-first driver seat-cushion airbag.
The most direct competitor for the Scion iQ is likely found in the Fiat 500, although the smart fortwo may also appear to those seeking the smallest possible city car. If buyers want a pinch more space in the subcompact, the Ford Fiesta Hatchback, Mazda Mazda2, Toyota Yaris Hatchback and Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback should be considered.