I’ve been car free for years. Having lived most of my adult life in large cities with excellent public transportation, I’ve never seen the need for one. And once I became an avid bike rider, I felt a certain pride in the ability to commute to and from work without harming the environment with nasty carbon emissions. However, this last year I’ve noticed a shift in my anti-car stance. I have found myself renting a lot of vehicles for travel and I’ve been making the most of my Zipcar membership. While the convenience of an instant car has been awesome, the cost has put a dent in my transportation budget. Having recently moved to a new apartment with a parking garage, quite a luxury in the city, the prospect of getting a car has become more and more appealing. So it must have been synchronicity that brought Scion calling, asking me to come to California to take part in a test drive of their new Scion iQ.
How could I say no to two wonderful days in L.A. and an opportunity to test drive the Smart Car’s new competition? Scion flew photographer, Nick McGlynn from Random Night Out and I out to Los Angeles for the test drive, along with other bloggers and members of the press to learn more about the Scion iQ. In addition they also wanted to enlighten us to the various lifestyle initiatives Scion supports, such as; short films, art installations and Scion enthusiast’s events. Needless to say, it must be a lot of fun working for Scion’s marketing department! While we had a great time learning about the hip culture Scion cultivates, we were really looking forward to getting out on the road to see how the car performed.
When, I first saw the car all I could think was, ‘Wow, it’s so little!’ but one look inside and I realized it was actually quite roomy. Scion calls the iQ’s seating arrangement ’3 +1′ meaning you can comfortably seat 3 people and have a little extra room for cargo. If you really had too, you could squeeze 2 people in the back, but only if the driver is short. This is way better than the Smart Car, which only seats 2 with no storage whatsoever. So far, the Scion iQ looked pretty good. But how did it drive?
After attending a thorough briefing on the capabilities of the Scion iQ, it was time a test drive. Climbing inside I noticed the interior was nice, exactly what you’d expect from a new car but what surprised us even more was, we didn’t feel like we were sitting in a small car. In fact, the Scion iQ was a bit too roomy, if that’s possible! The only thing I wasn’t so keen on was the ’manta ray’ design of the navigation device. It was a little over done for my taste. I would have liked to have seen a simpler design. What we really wanted to check out was the turn radius, which Scion claims is 12.9 ft. My living room is 13 feet wide, could this car really turn a full circle in my apartment? You betcha! If I hadn’t seen it I wouldn’t have believed it, but sure enough, Nick did a u-turn in a narrow Venice beach alleyway with no problems whatsoever. Awesome.
One of the questions that kept coming up again and again was, how did the Scion iQ stack up against the Smart Car? As we were taking our test drive we drove right past a Smart Car and couldn’t resist putting them side by side. As I mentioned before, the seating in a Smart Car is super limited. The lack of passenger and cargo room in the Smart Car was blatantly obvious once you got them close together.
The Scion iQ was an awesome ride. And we had a great time getting to know the people at Scion, a really fun bunch. They really have passion for their jobs and I can’t blame them, it seems like Scion is really committed to creating not only a fun car to drive, but an eclectic sub-culture among Scion drivers. So what about the iQ, would I buy it? I’d definitely consider it. It has everything I’ve been looking for in a car: plenty of room for me and a couple pals, great gas mileage(it gets nearly 40 mpg) and easy to park, it’s so tiny it fits in half a parking spot. The sticker price is reasonable as well, at almost $16,000, it’s less expensive than other cars its size. Overall the Scion iQ performed really well, it was fast, easy to maneuver and would make a great car for any urban dweller. Much thanks to the Scion crew for inviting us!