Toyota turned to a 'J-Factor' design theme, based on Japanese fine art, and completely skipped anything retro. On the outside, there's nothing overly gimmicky about the iQ; with nicely sculpted sheetbetal, a blunt yet curvaceous front end, and the playful curve in back, where the rear window wraps around—and of course those oversize wheels—the iQ feels unexpectedly assertive and sporty. Also, the iQ has several inches more width than most minicars—it's about the same width as the larger Yaris—so that gives the iQ a more stable, road-hugging look from the front or rear (plus more space inside).
Inside, the iQ has a few gimmicks—most notably the 'manta ray' theme that decorates the top of its center stack and appears at the door pulls. But if you look beyond those elements, the iQ's interior is remarkably straightforward stylistically, with nice detailing and better trims and finishes, overall, than what we've come to expect in recent U.S. Toyota products.
It's the instrument panel that you're likely to focus in on, as there's something odd about it. The passenger side of the dash goes several inches forward of where it does on the driver's side. Scion calls the iQ's seating '3+1'—and it's the smallest four-seater in the U.S. market—meaning there's room for three adults in the driver, front passenger, and rear right passenger positions. Essentially the front passenger seat goes farther forward, to allow easier access and more space on that side. The asymmetry might feel odd at first, but it's a detail we adapted quickly to.