Read the full review and watch the video at AutoGuide.comA Smart-er form of urban transportation
While being a leader in any industry is usually determined by having an idea first, in the auto sector, it’s often the case that success is based more on getting a product right. Toyota has in many ways grown to be the global juggernaut it is today, thanks to exactly that: perfecting modest transportation for the masses. And it’s looking to do so again with the iQ, launched in America under the youthful Scion brand.
A “micro subcompact” car, the iQ is preceded, by over a decade, by the Smart fortwo. Then there’s the modern Fiat 500, which may have beat the iQ to our shores (due in part to a delay in its launch as a result of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami), but the tiny Italian city car is arguably less as a form of mainstream transportation, and more an accessory for wealthy housewives.
The idea behind the iQ is to deliver urban transportation, but not a sort of stripped-down approach one might take with a vehicle for emerging markets. Rather, it is designed for modern urban centers, not to mention the tastes and expectations of consumers there.
A SMALL CAR, BUT NOT A CHEAP CAR, OR AN INEXPENSIVE ONE
The iQ was designed to break the size-equals-quality hierarchy that is currently a part of the Toyota brand says assistant chief engineer Junichi Hasegawa. Luxury automakers are finally having some success at conveying the idea that luxury doesn’t depend on size, but selling that concept in a non-premium segment is far mode difficult.
As a tiny Japanese car you might expect the iQ to start at less than, say, a Yaris. It doesn’t. At $15,245 its over $2,000 more. In fact, you can almost step into a Corolla for the same money. That alone will make the iQ a tough sell for many. If the price is the same, but the size isn’t, then the value difference has to be made up in the rest of the car, from features to trim quality, uniqueness, exterior design and driving dynamics. Is it?
That’s what we’re in San Francisco to discover, being the first to pilot the iQ in a city that is sure to value its compact dimensions.