Scion has announced a bargain $99 per month lease rate for its iQ mini car, hoping to boost deliveries as competition in the segment grows with Chevrolet’s recently released Spark off to a strong start.
Both cars are sold with the same goal in mind: bringing buyers in with an entry-level car and hoping they stick around for a bigger purchase later on. But the two brands are seeing very different sales results. Chevrolet has already sold more than 4,800 Sparks in the U.S. since its quiet launch in late July. Scion counts almost 6,200 iQs out the door, but that’s since January. In September the brand only sold 548. Now the Toyota sub-brand is offering its micro car through a 36-month lease that costs $99 per month with $1,969 due at signing.
Chevrolet Spokesperson Annalisa Bluhm chuckled a little, saying the Spark is “eating [the iQ] for lunch.” It’s hard to argue with that based on the sales figures, but Scion isn’t ready to admit defeat either and says the lease program isn’t a response to the Chevrolet’s stronger sales.
Instead, Scion representative Craig Taguchi says the brand thinks there are probably people who haven’t had the chance to experience the car, something the lease is meant to mend.
But why haven’t they had that chance? You don’t have to look much farther than the two car’s starting prices to understand. While the Spark starts at about $13,000 after delivery, the iQ will cost more than $16,000.
“The current iQ lease is successfully driving traffic to Scion showrooms where customers are realizing how cool the iQ really is and how well it fits into their lives,” Taguchi said, pointing out that the iQ is the world’s smallest four-seater.
Then again, anyone with a little wheel time logged in the iQ knows how tough those rear seats can be to use. As AutoGuide found, it’s possible to fit three adults in the car, but very uncomfortable.
It’s something Bluhm highlighted in the Spark, which is about two feet longer than the iQ. “I always encourage people to get in the back seats,” she said. “The spark is roomy. It fits four adults. You can still fit things in the back. You can go shopping with friends.”
While there’s no question the Spark is the more practical choice, the iQ comes almost fully equipped while entry-level Sparks run without tech options like bluetooth device pairing. The price difference between starting MSRPs might be enough to sway some buyers, but that won’t matter, at least not for a few months.
Only sold in 18 cities so far, the Spark is so new that lease programs haven’t been ironed out yet, meaning the iQ can actually be cheaper than the bargain bin Spark — for now.