Scion launches its tiniest car

Scion launches the 2011 iQ at the 2010 New York auto show.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
Sarah Tew/CNET
Scion iQ
Scion's new iQ is based on the Toyota iQ, already available in Japan and Europe. Sarah Tew/CNET

NEW YORK--Toyota started selling its iQ mini car in Japan two years ago, and in Europe last year. It comes to the U.S. with the same model name, but under the Scion badge, in early 2011. Scion officially launched the new iQ at the 2010 New York auto show.

Designed as an urban car, the iQ isn't big on power, its 1.3-liter four cylinder engine producing just over 90 horsepower. With its continuously variable transmission, Scion says it will get fuel economy in the high 30s.

Of equal interest to city dwellers is the car's size. With a length of 10 feet, it should park easily. The iQ's front seats are asymmetrically aligned, giving the driver enough room to work the pedals, but only enough room behind for a child, whereas the passenger side seat is set forward, creating enough room in the rear seat behind for another adult. Scion calls this 3+1 seating.

With the rear seats in use, there is no cargo area. Space in back becomes available only with the rear seats folded down. Scion also keeps the iQ tiny through the use of a compact air conditioning unit and electric power steering.

Surprisingly, the iQ will come with 10 air bags, along with stability and traction control, and anti-lock brakes. And as a Scion, it gets a USB port for iPod integration standard. Scion will make different head units available, with navigation a possibility, judging from the way its other models can be configured.