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New York show: Toyota's iQ test

Going green: Toyota believes younger buyers will want the sub-Yaris iQ in America and Australia.

Toyota tests the water for its iQ runabout through US youth-oriented Scion brand

9 Apr 2009

TOYOTA flagged its interest in the tiny iQ for the US market by showing a kitted-out version of the cute city runabout at the New York motor show last week.

Wearing the badges of its Scion youth brand in the US, the supermini was hard to miss in its bright green paint, 18-inch wheels, rear spoiler and wildly flared wheelarches.

Toyota already sells the iQ in Europe and Japan, but Australia is also interested in getting the car here in the next few years as a sub-Yaris model in Toyota Australia’s range to compete with the likes of the forthcoming Suzuki Alto, Mazda1 and Hyundai i10.

Toyota Australia vice-president David Buttner told us late last year that “sub-Yaris would be a nice place to be, particularly with the downsizing that we’ve seen and that is now sustainable in the Australian marketplace”.

However, for the US, Toyota believes the Scion brand’s younger image is more likely to resonate with potential iQ buyers.

Scion vice-president Jack Hollis said the company will judge public reaction before deciding whether to bring the iQ to the US.

8 center imageLeft: Toyota's Scion iQ concept.

“Traditionally, small vehicles have been thought of as being basic, but the iQ concept is just the opposite, with its innovative features and iconic urban design,” said Mr Hollis.

“Our young, trend-setting buyers are creative and innovative forward thinkers, and we think they will appreciate what iQ has to offer.” Toyota first revealed the three-door iQ as a concept at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show before introducing the tiny urban runabout in final production form at the Paris motor show in October 2008.

The New York show car wears bodywork produced by Huntington Beach, California car customiser Five Axis and will be displayed at other car shows around the country before a decision is made regarding the US market at the end of the year.

Of course, if the iQ does make it to America, it will naturally come with the regular bodywork styling, which has been widely praised and last year earned it Car of the Year honours in Japan.

The angular bodykit includes a deep front air dam that emphasises the iQ’s wheel-at-each-corner stance, a custom lower grille, narrow upper opening, deep side skirts and, of course, those wild flares.

As well as the spoiler that extends from the roof, a diffuser that is designed to accentuate the iQ’s trapezoidal rear shape incorporates a single centred exhaust.

The interior features plenty of youth-oriented audio/visual entertainment options controlled via a retractable ten-inch LCD screen that includes the navigation system.

If it makes it to the US, it will become the fourth Scion model alongside the Avensis-based tC two-door coupe, the Corolla-based xB wagon and the Yaris-based xD five-door hatchback.

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