Rumors that Toyota will send its iQ super subcompact to America appear to be true -- with one twist. Our sources indicate the iQ will debut at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November not as a Toyota, but as the latest addition to the Scion lineup.
Even though the tiny three-plus-one seat iQ (three adults, one child) was designed for Europe and Japan, there is a strong business case for bringing it here as a Scion.
Toyota, busy with the launch of the next-generation Prius, doesn't need another small gas sipper to steal its marketing thunder -- particularly one that could poach sales from the Yaris, the brand's other high miler.
In addition, Scion desperately needs some buzz to improve its brand image. Though sales of the second generation xB and new xD models have been aided by rising fuel prices, Scion's overall image has been hurt by the more conservative second-generation models, and the tC coupe is about due for a redo. Critics and consumers alike have noticed the absence of the original fun and funky themes that launched the brand. A squat and striking iQ would definitely draw some attention back to Scion.
Not only is the iQ a perfect demographic fit for the young and hip urban dweller Scion has targeted since day one, it slots nicely into its lineup as the entry level offering. Positioned under $15,000, a two door, hatchback iQ wouldn't challenge the more traditional four-door, five-seat Scion xD hatch, but would likely give the Smart fortwo fits. For around the same price as the Smart, the iQ would offer additional passenger/cargo capacity.
The iQ moniker is spot on as well -- a play off the Smart that fits Scion's traditional two letter, lower/upper case naming convention. As for what would power a Scion iQ, it's doubtful we'd see either the 1.0L three-cylinder gas engine or the 1.4L turbodiesel available in other markets. Our bet for the U.S.-spec iQ is the 1.5-liter engine found in the Yaris, combined with a five speed manual or optional Multidrive CVT.
We'll have more details as they become available around L.A. auto show time, but you heard it here first: Toyota is going to get Smart by giving iQ to Scion and America.
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