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Monday, April 23, 2012

The Scion IQ Disapoints

The Scion IQ is refered by Toyota as a "New Urbanism -- a vehicle for a more progressive buyer". Interesting, I consider myself very progressive, I feel pressured that to maintain my progressive Club Membership I need to like this car! If I don't will Toyota turn me in, will my progressive standing be suddenly revoked?. 
My first impressions as I saw the car up close, I imagined that the exterior styling was done by Frigidaire, tasteful, boxy, tall and the light inside comes on when you open the door. Inspecting the exterior I noticed the typical great Toyota Fit and finish on the paint and body. When I first open the drivers door and saw the seats I honestly said to my self, "look they put on mismatching seat covers so that the testers would not soil the seats". Oops! How wrong I was! The burlap like seat fabric was the actual seat upholstery. The seat bottom in a Grey checkerboard pattern and the backrest in Grey burlap. Not one of my better first impressions. Being "progressive" I try to keep an open mind and hoped my children and grand children have taste closer to mine rather than the designer who picked the material combination for the IQ. 
Chanting the "progressive" mantra. I am certain that Scion knows its potential customers better than I do. I continued with my inspection of the interior, as I sat down in the drivers seat and pulled the door closed my ears were assaulted by a very un-Toyota like, hollow and tinny sound as the door closed. Yet the sound brought on a warm and fuzzy feeling, slowly my brain fondly recalled the memory of my father in laws 1968 Toyota Corrolla 2 door wagon, the door on the IQ sound it just like it! Turning my attention to the door panel material, what came to mind is that the plain smooth grain light and contrasting darker Grey vinyl is very simple and continued the Frigidaire theme of an easy to wash interior. As I looked around the rest of the interior and dashboard, the theme of hard plastic that is easy to clean surfaces continued through the whole interior, including the sum visors the headliner however was softer.
Being the "progressive" that I am, a vision popped into my head. If the old Soviet Union had stayed in power, this is the kind of car that they would have built for the people, minus the good exterior styling and the great fit finish of course,
Scion refers to the IQ as "a new premium micro-subcompact segment with a level of innovation that makes a car this size possible". Translation! If they say Premium enough times a certain number of people will begin to believe it.
I am beginning to think that my "Old School Urbanism" is about to become extinct! Cashmere coats with silk linings, Cole Hann shoes, Willson leather motorcycle jackets, plush Wilton wool carpets. Is the universe finally unraveling?
I have a different body proportion than my 6' 7" friend Mike, who test drove this car with me. My 6 foot frame consist of a longer torso than Mike, more padding on the bottom resulting in a problem with the seating position for me. I pushed the drivers seat as far rearwards as it would go to accommodate my legs. To reach the steering wheel comfortably I had to bring the backrest forward, putting my head firmly in touch with the headliner.
In the 60's and the 70's, cars such as the MGB GT and the Porsche 911 had rear seats that were only useable by legless children. The leg room provides by those sports cars, was greater than the IQ when both front eats are pushed all the way back. You can say, I also had

Lycra bathing suit and little else between the seat back and the hatch. When folding the rear seats down to be able to us the space, you first have to remove the head rest and find a place to stow them with their menacing steel shafts. If you are a "New Urbanite" mom or dad, and you want to put a baby seat in the back, you will have to do it from the right side of the car where the seat slides further forward and it will still be a very tight fit.
So I took it for a ride in its intended urban setting. Initial impression as we pull out of the parking lot is there is a lot of engine and road noise, once up to speed the droning continues. The 1.3 liter 96 horsepower engine provides adequate power and some very Singer Sewing Machine like noise. I am certain that this will be a good durable car in typical Toyota tradition. The 11 standard airbags will provide protection if the worse happens. Obviously this vehicle is aimed directly at the Smart car (IQ, get it!) But this segment is full of really great cars from Nisan, Ford, Kia, Fiat and yes Totota. For a car this small and a price range from $16,000 to $18,000 I expect more than just cute and great TV commercials
What I am really looking forward to is the FRS Scion all wheel drive sports car.

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