Scion's iQ surprise: I fit, it's quick

Scion iQ -- nimble with a 12.9-foot turning radius. Photo credit: SCION

I'm 6-2 and, well, let's just call it above my high school basketball playing weight. So I approach micro-cars with some hesitation. Let's face it: I'm the worst-case scenario for micro-car designers.

There used to be limits: no more than 15 minutes in the original Morris Mini for me and no way in the Renault R-18 – my size 14 shoes always depressed two pedals at once.

Yet in an age of clever design and better materials, I almost always fit in modern micros. I fit in the Smart. I fit in a variety of European-market micros. If I cloned myself, four of me would fit in the Tata Nano. (Forget the downright roomy modern Mini and Fiat 500 – they're not micros but mini-cars.)

But micros have been largely utilitarian, a way to get from A to B.

So I was impressed when I hopped into a Scion iQ today here in Detroit. Not that I fit in either front seat of a car only 10 feet long. Not merely that I also fit in the right-side back seat. Like I said, interior packaging has really advanced.

No. What impressed me is that the iQ was fun to drive. It's a pure city car, and Scion is absolutely right to aim it at young, urban types when it goes on sale Dec. 1.

Because for city dwellers, it performs. I don't mean straight-line acceleration, which is adequate. I mean agile. I mean responsive. I mean easy to park in tiny spaces.

Out on the streets of central Detroit, I enjoyed driving it.

Then the iQ did something I had never done before in a road-licensed vehicle. On an ordinary side street, I slowed, eased to the right curb, spun the wheel and made a U-turn. No Y-turn. No pulling into a stranger's driveway. No sweat.

Scion calls it a 12.9-foot turning radius. To a city boy, that's the get-out-of-street-free card.

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