SCION IQ & Mercedes C250 Coupe
By Kelly Foss, MyCarData.com
The IQ from Scion is yet another micro sub-compact that has popped up on our streets. The IQ as an expression of the New Urbanism. This minimalist viewpoint holds that a car, a dwelling etc. should be no bigger than it has to be. That means that if you’re a “city” dweller and that’s where you spend your time, the IQ makes perfect sense and is optimized for that environment. If you’re on the freeway hours a day, then you may want to think carefully before you buy this car. As one of the Toyota reps at the press launch noted, if you are a freeway person, why not just buy a Corolla? Good point.
So how small is the IQ? It’s really small. It’s bigger and more substantial than a Smart car, about the same as the Fiat 500 but smaller than a Mini Cooper. The car is 10 feet long and weighs only 2,100 pounds. It’s the world’s smallest 4 seater. From the driver’s seat, it looks and feels like any other compact car because of an optical illusion and the way that your mind plays tricks on you. The illusion fades into incredulity when you drive by a large plate glass window and see the car reflected in it. You look where you’re sitting and the interior space around you…then you look at
the reflection in the window…the interior again…then the reflection again. Pretty soon the reality of its petite dimensions sink in and you become a more defensive driver.
The IQ follows the Toyota tradition of being well designed and well built. Under the skin, the car is rock solid and has an impressive body structure. It comes standard with 11 airbags! We couldn’t even guess where to put 11 airbags in this vehicle but upon inspection, they were all present and accounted for. New locations include a rear window bag and two in the front seat bottoms to guard against passengers submarining (sliding forward under the seatbelts).
The IQ is a 2 door with a hatch and seats 4. It is powered by a thoroughly modern 1.3 liter 4 cylinder gasoline engine connected to a CVT gearless automatic transmission. The car has adequate power and will breeze down the highway quite comfortably. It has an EPA combined fuel economy rating of 37 mpg which Scion claims is the highest of any non-hybrid vehicle. The car handles and rides very well for its size. It feels substantial, like a “real” car.
Though minimalist by design and mono-spec like all Scions, the car does offer some upgrades plus many dealer installed options. For example, three different audio packages are available as well as a navigation system, a variety of wheels and several eye catching colors.
The IQ has all the great engineering and build quality of other Scion and Toyota products. The car has been distilled down to the essential elements that urban dwellers value. The starting price of $15,000 seems fair for this high quality, high efficiency premium micro-compact.
MERCEDES C250 COUPE
Mercedes has been systematically upgrading their product line for the past several years. The E Class is classier, the S has more luxuries and even the C Class, their entry model in the U.S. market, has grown in size and substance.
I recently tested the new C250 Coupe. The new C Class Mercedes have been a big success primarily due to the increase in size and improved styling. As good as the sedans look, the new coupe is visually stunning. It’s a perfect example of how the proper shaping of sheet metal can totally transform a vehicle. The C Coupe has the dimensions of a compact but the styling proportions and lines of something much above that. It’s a skillful balance of high style and quality components delivered at an attainable price.
The C Coupe is available in three levels: the 201 horsepower C250 mentioned above; the C350 with 302 horsepower; and the performance AMG C63 with a raucous and highly aggressive 451 horsepower V8. All models have Mercedes’ excellent 7-speed automatic transmission.
My test C250 was the picture of efficiency. With the turbocharged 1.8 liter 4 cylinder engine, it offered very satisfying torquey power. Under normal driving, the engine routinely operates in the 2,000 rpm range which provides a poised and relaxed drive. The 7-speed transmission is perfectly matched to harvest the best from the engine. The combination delivers V6 acceleration and superb efficiency. The EPA fuel economy rating is 21 city and 31 highway but on freeway cruises the C250 was routinely indicating 40 mpg and I averaged 27.4 mpg in a week of driving.
The interior of the C Coupe also exudes class and elegance. The components are well crafted and expertly put together yet don’t stray onto Mercedes’ luxury turf. Though smaller and less expensive, the C Coupe still has Mercedes presence and its rock solid feel. The car’s ride is responsive yet civilized and most of the din of the outside world is filtered out. The C Coupe is an enjoyable car to drive and gets lots of attention from bystanders.
The cabin is sport oriented but not to the point that it repels the daily driver. The car provides very comfortable seating for four. The buttons and controls are classic Mercedes and follow the corporate pattern. An edgy black interior with shiny trim and a more elegant lighter colored interior with burl walnut are offered.
It’s a very solid, high-quality car without S Class uber-techno complexity. The C Coupe delivers the Mercedes experience in a satisfying manner with great efficiency at a price that won’t break the bank.
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