2012 Scion iQ Photo
/ 10
On Performance
$6,995 - $13,863
On Performance
The 2012 Scion iQ isn't at all quick; but it's grippy and composed in corners and surprisingly fun and tenacious in the twisties.
6.0 out of 10
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PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10

Expert Quotes:

has the CVT-standard tendency to rev up to middle rpms, and then sort of sit there while it gathers speed
Winding Road

Compared to the Smart and even the Fiat 500, the iQ's freeway manners are completely unmatched, remaining calm and even comfortable at 80+ mph

from behind the wheel, it's Toyota's best small car
Automobile Magazine

feels remarkably secure at highway speeds with no noticeable crosswinds to terrorize us
Motor Trend

performance is sleep-inducing
Edmunds' Inside Line

The iQ's 94-horsepower, 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine is one of the smallest, weakest engines for the North American market, yet it can move this little 2,100-pound, front-wheel-drive minicar just fine. Provided you're running around town, or in the suburbs, on mostly level roads, the iQ feels mostly responsive and at ease.

With dual variable valve timing, the engine feels quite flexible and isn't peaky in the way that the Smart's three-cylinder engine is. And while no manual gearbox is in the works for the U.S. market, the little four works quite well with the belt-and-pulley continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which gives the engine enough revs when needed and avoids two common annoyances: the 'rubber band' feel to throttle response, and a surging feeling during moderate acceleration.

Part of the reason why the CVT in the iQ feels so responsive, we observed, is that its top ratio isn't really that tall. At highway speeds of around 70 mph, the tach was showing the engine spinning closer to four grand than three, which simply means that when you need more revs for passing, it's already much of the way there.

While the iQ can feel frisky, looking at a stopwatch will give you a reality check; it's actually very slow. Official 0-60 times are a finger-tapping 11.8 seconds—putting the iQ in the same range as many economy cars of the 1980s.

Whether on a curvy road or out on the highway, the iQ's width and excellent suspension tuning really makes a difference. The rather firmly tuned suspension loads and unloads in a very stable, progressive way—and being about the same width as a larger subcompact or compact makes it much more confident. Its electric power steering, too, dials down to allow a heftier, more stable feel on the highway while being quite communicative on those twisty roads. All models have front discs and rear drums, and brake feel is confident enough for all city-driving needs.

The iQ's turning radius is an incredible 12.9 feet. When we made a wrong turn on a narrow two-lane road, we were able to pull off a painless U-turn, barely needing the shoulder.


The 2012 Scion iQ isn't at all quick; but it's grippy and composed in corners and surprisingly fun and tenacious in the twisties.

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