Scion appears to be growing up. The brand which launched in 2003 with non-mainstream vehicles, a unique buying process, and a marketing campaign aimed at young buyers was a breath of fresh air. But the industry collapse back in 2008 and an aging lineup has seen Scion lose their key audience and drift into obscurity. So what does a brand aimed at young people that is treading water do? For Scion, it was time to get creative and work somewhat outside the box. Thus at New York, Scion introduced the iA and iM. What makes both of these vehicles different is they are actually rebadged version of other models. The iA is the sedan version of the new Mazda2, while the iM is the European Toyota Auris. So how do both of these new models stack up? First up is the 2016 Scion iA.
For the most part, the iA is quite the sleek looking vehicle with sharp lines and a distinctive profile. This is due to the Scion iA being a slightly restyled Mazda2, which itself is quite the good looking subcompact. The one part where Scion had responsibility in the design was creating a unique front fascia. It looks like Scion squished the tC's front clip into the space for the front fascia. Many journalists who saw the iA thought it was ugly. But Scion explained they wanted something that was polarizing to stand out in a somewhat crowded class. They got that with the Scion iA for better or worse.
In terms of seating, the front passengers get a set of supportive bucket seats. The back seat is standard for the class with enough head and legroom for most passengers. However, you should tell your passengers to put the seat rests up Otherwise, they’ll be wondering why the backseat is trying to eat their back.
Power comes from a 1.5L four-cylinder with 106 horsepower and 101 pound-feet of torque. There is a choice of either six-speed manual or automatic. In terms of fuel economy, the iA is rated by the EPA at 31 City/41 Highway/35 Combined for the manual, and 33 City/42 Highway/37 Combined for the automatic.
For the suspension, the iA employs a McPherson strut front suspension and a torsion-beam axle in the rear. As for braking, the iA uses disc brakes around.
On to the drive!
The Scion iA seems perfectly suited for the city as the 1.5L engine is more than capable of getting up speed at a decent rate. On the expressway and country roads, the engine struggles to get up to speed. This is somewhat surprising when you take into account the iA's curb weight of 2,416 pounds for the automatic. At least the six-speed automatic is smooth and quick. But the iA begins to redeem itself when it comes to ride and handling. Ride quality was very composed and was rarely unsettled by any potholes or bumps. Handling reveals a bit of Mazda influence with iA feeling planted when pushed. The steering has a good feel and weight when you are hustling around.
Scion appears to be going in gracefully with maturing if the 2016 iA is any indication. Teaming up with Mazda to build this subcompact sedan proved to be right call since a lot this vehicle just works and drives pretty well. If you can get over the front end, then the Scion iA is worth a look.
Disclaimer: Scion Invited Cheers & Gears to a Two-Day Driving Event In Grand Rapids
Engine: 1.5L DOHC, Direct-Injected, 16-Valve Four-Cylinder
Driveline: Front-Wheel Drive; Six-Speed Manual, Six-Speed Automatic
Horsepower @ RPM: 106 @ 6000
Torque @ RPM: 103 @ 4000
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 31/41/35 (Manual), 33/42/37 (Automatic)
Curb Weight: 2,385 lbs (Manual), 2,416 lbs (Automatic)
Prices: $16,495 (Manual), $17,595 (Automatic) - Prices includes a $795 Destination Charge
On Sale: September 1st