Although the Scion iQ has a pretty unique look, it is often mistaken for the Smart ForTwo, which preceded it in the marketplace by several years and first brought the idea of small city cars to Americans. The two models are the shortest cars on the market, and both seem to end just past the door.
The iQ's aggressive lines give it more attitude and presence than the Smart. If you don't look past the side door, it almost looks like a conventional car, with more visual weight given to the (still very short) hood. Its height and width are similar to a subcompact, and it's more slab-sided and substantial than the Smart. The large wheels add to a road-hugging stance that amplifies the car's strong front proportions, giving it a beefy look even if it isn't that large.
The little Scion's cabin has nice detailing on the trims and finishes and relatively sensible, straightforward design. The one design highlight is what Scion calls a "manta ray" theme of swoops and embossing, both on the top of the center stack and on the door pulls. The grim nylon seat fabric isn't up to the standard of the rest of the interior, though, and there's a lot of black for such a small space.
The "3+1-seat" interior is accomplished by a passenger instrument panel that's moved several inches closer to the base of the windshield than the driver's. That means the front passenger will sit considerably farther forward than the driver if the rear seat on the car's right is occupied, which feels slightly odd at first. The fourth seat behind the driver is for a very, very small living creature--or more likely backpacks, bundles, and packages. Scion says it's intended for children, but we think parents would have a tough time getting offspring in and out of that rear spot.