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Scion’s smart ‘city car’ lives up to its name

I found a car that doesn’t need reverse gear. Really. The start and endpoints of a day in the Scion iQ were the same, essentially a circle.

I found a car that doesn’t need reverse gear. Really. The start and end points of a day in the Scion iQ were the same, essentially a circle. All day, I drove, manoeuvred, parked, stopped, started, accelerated and turned.

There were wrong turns, tight turns, U-turns. Reverse gear? Not even once.

Along a meandering and pretty shore road, my drive partner and I did everything we could to throw our test vehicle into the tightest circles possible.

And both of us giggled uncontrollably every time.

The 2012 Scion iQ has a turning radius of just four metres and in the delicious Hot Lava colour, it matched my Kate Spade bag quite nicely, thank you very much.

Thinking about spending the day in the world’s smallest four-seater, I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive since I’m almost six feet tall. Would I have to be pried out of the thing? Would I be sporting bruised temples, ankles, elbows and a pretzeled spine?

First off, it might technically have four seats, but the back is strictly for toddlers and passengers of the canine variety. If I dared suggest any of our three leggy daughters sit back there, I would get dirty looks and plenty of eye-rolling.

We most certainly were not in Alabama in mid-July, but, on our drive day, we were treated to an unseasonably warm day and the world’s smallest air-conditioning system handled it with aplomb.

Scion, the youthful offshoot of its Toyota parents, boasts that the iQ, in direct competition with Italian-heartstring-tugging Fiat 500 and Germany’s Smart ForTwo, has the flattest gas tank, no thicker than a can of soda and half as thick as standard gas tanks.

The “iQute” also has the world’s first rear-window airbag, which is proper because if you’re in that back seat, you want to know that there’s something between grave danger and your head.

I spent equal time in the driver’s seat and in the passenger seat of the iQ.

The passenger’s side is interesting and innovative. There is no glove box. A drawer that slides out from under the seat takes care of that storage requirement.

On the driver’s side, the seat and positioning are comfortable. Enough room for long legs and arms and plenty of head room for those days when my hair is oh-so-’80s.

Acceleration is surprisingly rapid. Although the passing lanes on the winding roads of our driving route were short, the iQ didn’t hesitate. It felt confident and sure-footed while enjoying a small spurt of 115 km/h on the highway.

You just have to keep in mind that 94 horsepower is 94 horsepower. The iQ doesn’t think it’s bigger than it is but, like the ad says, it is bigger than you think.

I like the Scion iQ’s micro size yet macro personality. When you’re in it, there is no sign of a Napoleon complex. The iQ is small and proud of it.

I like the way the tires are jauntily pushed out to the edge of the vehicle. I like the smooth seat-gliding levers on either side of the passenger chair. And, even though I didn’t see them, I like the class-leading 11 airbags as well as the great fuel economy.

 
 
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