Last week, we introduced to the Scion iA. This model is part of a two-prong attack for Scion to get themselves out of the dark hole they currently find themselves in. The second prong to this attack is the Scion iM. Like the Scion iA, Scion turned to another maker - in this case Toyota - to see about using a current model to help revitalize their lineup. What they got was the European-market Toyota Auris hatchback as a replacement for the boxy xB. We came away impressed with the iA, will the iM be the same?
The only real difference between the Auris sold around the world and the iM that will be sold in the states is the change from Toyota to Scion badging. Otherwise, the iM is one of the best-looking vehicles that Scion, let alone Toyota has brought out in a while. Such details as a narrow grille, 17-inch wheels with a black outline, and distinctive side sculpting give the iM a sleek look in a class that tends to play it safe.
Moving inside, the iM isn’t going to set the world on fire in terms of looks. The dashboard is a simple design with a mix of hard and soft touch materials. Scion did a couple of things to the interior to make it look somewhat premium. Along the bottom edge of the dashboard on the passenger side and center stack, there is a piece of soft-touch plastic with stitching. Also, the center stack is finished with piano black plastic.
Interior space is average for the class with the iM offering 90.4 cubic feet of passenger volume and 20.8 cubic feet of cargo space. What that means is that you and a few your friends will be comfortable no matter where they sit and be able to carry all of their stuff. You’ll also be able to expand that space with a set of 60/40 split folding seats.
Standard equipment is quite generous on the iM with automatic climate control, heated outside mirrors, 4.2-inch TFT screen in the instrument cluster, six-speaker audio system, and a 7-inch touchscreen. The touchscreen is easy to use thanks to a simple interface and clear graphics, but Toyota’s infotainment system could use an update to make it slightly modern.
Power comes from the Corolla Eco’s 1.8L four-cylinder 137 horsepower and 126 pound-feet of torque. There is a choice of either a six-speed manual or a CVT. For fuel economy, the iM is rated at 27 City/36 Highway/31 Combined for the manual, and 28 City/37 Highway/32 Combined for the CVT.
We should state here that the particular iM we drove was equipped with some TRD parts - lowering springs and strut bar. This means we have some different ride impressions of this iM than other iMs available at the event. We’ll have some thoughts on the ride of the standard iM when we get one in for review in the future.
On some back roads, the iM felt planted and showed little sign of body roll. However, the iM’s steering felt rubbery and didn’t have much feel. But for most owners, this isn’t such a big deal. In city and highway driving, the iM did a mostly decent job of dealing with bumps and imperfections. Some bumps did make it into the cabin, mostly due to the TRD suspension components fitted on our iM. Road and wind noise were about average for the class.
The iM follows Scion’s ‘Mono spec’ mantra. That means every iA will come equipped with automatic climate control, 7-inch touchscreen, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, and a number of other features. The only real choices for a buyer are color, transmission, and if they want to spring for navigation. Pricing for the Scion iM starts at $19,255 for the manual, and $19,995 for the CVT. The prices put the iM in a good spot as many competitors such as the Mazda and Ford Focus are a bit more to match the iM in terms of features.
After spending some time with the iM, we came away somewhat mixed. While Scion has done a lot in terms of filling the iM with a lot a value, the powertrain doesn’t seem quite in tune with the vehicle. Now a lot this comes down to the manual transmission which isn’t a good fit. Pair this with the TRD parts which tended to make the ride a little bit worse, and it has left us confused about our feelings. We’ll admit that Scion is on the right track with iM with trying to reach a more mainstream audience, but we need some more drive time with it before we say whether or not it's a good fit for Scion.
Disclaimer: Scion Invited Cheers & Gears to a Two-Day Driving Event In Grand Rapids
Engine: 1.8L DOHC, VALVEMATIC, 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive; Six-Speed Manual, CVT
Horsepower @ RPM: 137 @ 6100
Torque @ RPM: 126 @ 4000
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/36/31 (Manual), 28/37/32 (Automatic)
Curb Weight: 2,943 lbs (Manual), 3,031 lbs (Automatic)
Prices: $19,255 (Manual), $19,995 (Automatic) - Prices includes a $795 Destination Charge
On Sale: September 1st