The 2013 Scion iQ may be a tiny city car, but it has an aggressive personality and attitude that let it box above its weight. It somehow looks like a real car—much more so than the Smart Fortwo—due to its height and width, which match those of a subcompact, along with slab-sided proportions. From the side, it just appears to be a rear car with the entire rear amputated, though from front and rear three-quarter views, it's either a normal subcompact or a rather upright hatchback.
With its oversize wheels, the Scion iQ gains a measure of sportiness and an aggressive, road-hugging stance that serves it well on the street. Toyota's stylists entirely skipped anything retro--no MINI or Beetle here--and says their "J Factor" design language is based on Japanese fine art. We don't see it, but the U.S. isn't the prime market for the little iQ anyhow. The front end is blunt but softly curved, and the thickness of the roof pillar is offset by a playful reverse curve that wraps the rear window around from the back.
Inside the cabin, the iQ's interior is stylistically straightforward, with nice detailing and mostly better trims and finishes than those we've seen in recent U.S. Toyota products. It's let down only by the nylon seat fabric and the almost-all-black interior of some models. The one gimmick is a "manta ray" theme that not only appears at the door pulls but also decorates the top of the center stack.
To achieve what Scion terms "3+1 seating," the passenger side of the instrument panel is several inches further away than the driver's. To get a real person into the third seat, the front passenger's seat must slide forward noticeably--as the tracks are set up to allow--which can feel odd to the driver. On the other hand, we don't expect many iQ owners will ever have three people in one.