First Look: 2011 Scion iQ

When Scion unveiled its tricked-out, Toyota iQ-based microcar concept at last year's New York auto show, executives insisted it was there to test America's appetite for ultra-small commuter vehicles. Apparently we're hungry for tiny transportation, as the automaker is using this year's show to publically unveil the 2011 Scion iQ.

Like last year's show car, the production iQ is largely a rebadged version of the Toyota microcar of the same name. From what we can tell, attempts to "Scion-ify" the car are limited to smoked headlamps, large Scion emblems, and horizontal grille inserts. The flared body kit and massive 18-inch wheels of the concept aren't carried into production, but knowing Scion, we wouldn't be surprised if similar parts will eventually be pitched to style-conscious buyers as dealer-installed accessories.

First launched abroad in 2008, the miniscule iQ is dwarfed by even the subcompact Yaris three-door. At 120.1-inches long, 66.1-inches wide, and 59.1 inches tall, the iQ is roughly the same size as a Smart ForTwo -- yet its packaging couldn't be any more different.

While the ForTwo's engine and transaxle are placed behind the driver and front passenger, Toyota placed the iQ's driveline up front. Although European models are available with two different engines and transmissions, the Scion will be offered only with a 90-hp, 1.3-liter inline four-cylinder with variable valve timing. A continuously variable transmission is standard, and will send power to the front wheels.

Packing that equipment in the iQ's nose allows for an entirely different interior layout. Toyota manages to squeeze in a rear seat, generating some additional versatility. By staggering the front bucket seats, the iQ's "3+1" seating allows room for an extra adult in back, along with a child or extra cargo. The rear seatback is split 50/50, and folds entirely flat.

We expect Scion to only offer one trim level on the iQ, but it should still have a decent array of standard features. No doubt in an effort to blunt the inevitable small cars are unsafe chatter, the iQ will be chock full of safety amenities, including ten airbags, stability control, ABS, brake force distribution, and traction control. A six-speaker sound system will be standard, as will a USB and line-level auxiliary audio inputs.

Final pricing and equipment lists have yet to be announced, but Scion expects to deliver the car to showrooms by early 2011.

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