Scion iQ
by Ryan / September 14, 2011

Scion recently invited MOCO LOCO out to California to try out their new city car, the iQ. Contributing editor Ryan Heiser spent an afternoon with Scion team and the micro-subcompact - here's what he had to report.

(Click the images below for full sized images)


When you think about Toyota, do you think about design? About urban? Premium? Toyota's youth-oriented sub-brand Scion has recognized that transportation needs are changing and is ushering in the iQ to push the company in a fresh new direction.

The Car

The first thing you notice about the iQ is just how compact it really is, but Scion wants you to know that their new car is all about space. It's almost a given that it boasts the highest combined MPG in any non-hybrid on the road today - but what isn't so expected is that it has 11 air bags, and navigation, and a Bluetooth stereo, and four seats(!).


One of the great things about this diminutive car is that it feels like a real car. When you're in a Smart, you almost feel like you're driving a golf cart or a toy. Not the case here. The experience is quite entertaining; face forward and you'll never know the difference between this and a larger car, turn around however, and you'll find the rear half of your car missing.

With only a ten-foot overall length, the iQ is defined as a micro-subcompact. In fact, it's the world's smallest four-seater, and uses innovative small-space solutions to overcome the stigma traditionally associated with "micro" cars. It's also the easiest car in the world to park, which makes it an urban miracle maker.

The iQ Project

Scion is famous for its quirky, guerrilla-style advertising, individuality, and community. This ideology is deeply ingrained in everything the company does, while I was in SoCal it was inspiring to see them sponsoring so many art and design events and productions alongside the launch of the iQ.

Promotional video for "A Product of Design", curated by Gluekit

Scion will be hosting design shows in and around LA, including "A Product of Design" curated by Gluekit (which opens September 17th), opening a "Project Museum" that spotlights influential cultural movements, and have created a 3D film of mashup art from Sage Vaughn, Josh Graham, Ana Serrano, Franki Chan, Evelyn Lee, and Todd Edwards.

Borrowing a page from BMW, Scion will even be creating ten "Art Cars" from artists including Dust La Rock, David Chloe, the Melvins, and Mishka.


Scion iQ Art Car concept by Gluekit

In another creative exploration in association with the iQ, Scion invited ten artists to imagine their ideal live/work space, with the only requirement being the dimensions - 10x10x10.


Exterior view of Ryan Staake's live/work space

I came away from my day with the iQ thoroughly impressed - I think there are a few key areas where the car, and the brand, are really nailing it. Simplicity, authenticity, and design.

Of note, this is a new, "lighter" side for the Scion brand; earlier advertising and marketing had a certain "dark," rebellious mood. This is a forward-looking car that is efficient, modern, and fun, and has an enthusiastic and committed community behind it.

Says Scion in their new iQ ad campaign, "i am going to be BIG" - I concur.


See more from my brief stay in San Diego in this photo gallery.


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