By Emme Hall.
Listen up, city dwellers! You can now park perpendicular to the curb. Of course, not in your everyday car, you need a special car, a different car, a super car, super small, that is. Welcome to the super small car comparison, the 2013 Smart Passion Coupe vs. the 2013 Scion iQ.
The Smart car features a 1L inline 3 cylinder engine, good for 70 horsepower and 68 lb/ft of torque. Power goes to the rear wheels via a 5 speed automated manual transmission. You’ll get an estimated EPA fuel rating of 34 in the city and 38 on the highway.
The Scion iQ has a larger 1.3L inline 4 cylinder engine with better power numbers: 94 horsepower and 89 lb/ft of torque. This little FWD scooter earns an EPA fuel rating of 36 in the city, 37 on the highway. You won’t be rowing any gears, however, as the iQ comes with a continuously variable transmission, or CVT as those in the know call it.
And how big is small? The 2013 Smart Passion Coupe has a wheelbase of just over 73.5”, a total length of 106.1”, and a width of 61.4”. It weighs 1808 pounds and seats two people. You’ll have to pack light, as luggage space is only 12 cubic feet.
There is room for four in the 2013 Scion iQ, although the owners I talked to said they liked their friends too much to ask them to sit in the back. The iQ is a slightly bigger car all the way around, with a wheelbase of 78.7”, a length of 120.1”, and a width of 66.1” It tips the scales at 2127 pounds. Leaving the rear seats up leaves a miniscule 3.5 cubic feet of cargo space, but fold those 50/50 split seats down and that more than quadruples to 16.7 cubic feet. Looks like my 5’9” frame is not taking any naps on long trips.
If you fancy yourself a designer, the Smart Passion car has a few tricks up its sleeve. You can customize body panels and design your own wrap. The folks at Smart will even change your wrap as many times as you want. The Scion iQ offers customization in the form of accessories. A rear spoiler, fog lights, mudguards, floor mats, an interior lighting system are among the myriad of options.
But what are these tiny cars like to drive? Both have such low curb weights that cross winds are a problem. The Smart’s suspension is pretty stiff and combined with a short wheelbase; you’ve got yourself a fairly rough ride. While it’s fun to snake through traffic in ways that SUVs just can’t match, the Smart’s transmission is a glaring problem. Shifting manually is vaguely smooth, but watch out if you put the car in fully automatic mode. It shifts abruptly enough to spill your coffee all over your new suit. If this car were a movie it would be the Steve Martin flick, “The Jerk.”
The iQ behaves more like a Japanese sedan than a Japanese microcar. Despite the short wheelbase, it’s composed and stable out on the road. Like the Smart car, it’s easy to wind through traffic and the thing turns on a dime. It would be great to drive this car with a manual transmission, as the CVT hinders performance somewhat. Step on the gas and it takes a bit of time for the iQ to respond. It’s not the worst thing in the world, as the go kart-iness of the handling is pretty fun, but it could be better.
Go kart-iness aside, both cars are pretty slow. The Smart Passion gets you to 60 mph in 14.1 seconds on the way to a top speed of 90 mph. The iQ is faster, but we’re still talking 11.6 seconds to 60 mph, with a top speed of 100 mph. Or so they say. I’m not sure anyone has actually been brave enough to try.
At $16,250, the iQ is the better buy here. Sure, it’s more expensive than the Smart, which will only set you back $14,890, but it’s actually feels like, well, a car. Don’t get me wrong, neither of these is going to satisfy any Drivers out there, but if you’re looking for a super small car that is super easy to park, check the iQ.