Scion iQ packs a lot into tiny package
The Scion iQ feels like a car George Jetson would be proud to drive, or in his case fly.
By Canadian standards, Nova Scotia is small. But it packs a lot into a relatively stout package, much like the 2012 Scion iQ. It too may not appear big on the outside, but interior space and how it handles the road will surprise you.
Power comes in the form of a 1.3-litre, aluminum block four-cylinder engine. A city car at heart, performance numbers indicate 94 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 89 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm.
Matched to a CVT transmission, accelerating quickly from a stop and merging into highway traffic is a challenge, so be prepared. Once up to speed, well I heard tale of a semi-professional driver who achieved a remarkable top speed of 181 km/h on a deserted road, going downhill with a tailwind. Now that is impressive and entirely believable, if I do say so myself.
Front-wheel drive is what you expect in most cars today and the iQ follows this path. Suspension set up sees front MacPherson strut and rear torsion bar. Vehicle stability control is standard, an integral part of parent company Toyota’s Star Safety System, along with front disc brakes, ABS, Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Distribution.
The outer design of the Scion iQ looks completely modern. It feels like a car George Jetson would be proud to drive, or in his case fly. Driving in Nova Scotia, we get plenty of stares and fingers pointed our way. Inside, the manta ray inspired cabin is designed to fit three occupants. This allows for storage in one half of the rear seat plus a small trunk area. City dwellers will love it. Adventure seekers should pack light.
Our main destination this week is the university town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Located in an idyllic setting on the Bay of Fundy; a side trip takes us to our first stop in Lunenburg, a city currently hosting the restoration project of the Bluenose II. A twisty, two-lane path is our route of choice and we put the Scion iQ through its paces. I am surprised at every turn, it responds easily to each switch of the steering wheel. Coastal drives are a highlight here and time seems to slow down. We spend a few hours touring the Bluenose II before it re-launches and we head back to Halifax and our journey north. Ninety minutes later we arrive in Wolfville.
The award-winning Blomidon Inn was originally a Sea Captain’s mansion built in the bygone era when sailing was king. Beautifully restored and fully upgraded to meet 21st Century technology requirements, it features 33 tastefully decorated rooms on multiple floors.
Creaking wood stairs and thick hand rails lead to our room. Amenities include a large living room with LCD TV, four-poster queen-size bed, tiled bathroom with pedestal sink and large windows looking out on acres of Victorian-inspired gardens. Meals are served in the main floor dining room, a Wine Spectator favourite for the past decade. We dine on mussels and a specially prepared chef’s selection of local ingredients.
The next day is dedicated to touring a region of Nova Scotia’s fast-growing wine industry and, of course, watching the tide roll out. Gentle sea breezes flow over low lying hills to produce some of Canada’s finest new wines. We navigate the ups and downs of this rolling countryside, basking in the sunshine and finding our way on country roads to the estates of L’Acadie Vineyards, Gaspereau Vineyards and Grand Pre Wines. As driver, the tasting for me will come later. For now, the backdrop of land and sea is equally satisfying.
Both the 2012 Scion iQ and the province of Nova Scotia make you feel welcome with every trip, or as they like to say in Nova Scotia, “Ciad Mile Failte”.
Where to Stay Blomidon Inn
195 Main Street Wolfville,
2012 Scion iQ
Price as tested (before taxes): $18,950
Options on test vehicle: Premium Pioneer Audio Upgrade ($595).
Configuration: front engine/ front-wheel drive.
Engine/transmission: 1.3-L 4-cyl./ continuously variable
Power/torque: 94 hp/ 89 lb.-ft.
Fuel (capacity): Premium (32L)
Fuel economy ratings: 5.5 L/100km city; 4.6 L/100km hwy
Observed fuel economy: 4.9 L/100km over 400 km
Warranties: 3 years/ 60,000 km (basic); 5 years/ 100,000 km (powertrain)
Competitors: Chevrolet Spark; Fiat 500; Ford Fiesta; Honda Fit; Smart Fortwo
Strengths: drivability; fit and finish; fuel economy
Weaknesses: limited storage space; polarizing style