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    First Drive: 2016 Scion iM


    • Heading Into the Mainstream

    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.

     


    2016 Scion IM 5


    The 1.8L has to be worked to get to its power zone. Now this would be great if the engine wanting to be worked with a nice engine note. This isn't happening in the iM as the engine sounds very unpleasant, telling you that you don't want to push the engine at all. Not helping matters is the standard six-speed manual transmission which has long throws and doesn’t feel precise when you put it into gear. Some people we talked to after the event said the CVT was the better as it seems more in tune with the engine’s behavior.

     

    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

     

     

    Year: 2016
    Make: Scion
    Model: iM
    Trim: N/A
    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



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    Very awesome review to read. Informative and interesting to know more about these new auto's. I can also honestly say that I am underwhelmed by the scion product line and would not be able to recommend it to anyone.

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    can you imagine the ad campaign?

     

    "Scion.  I M hip.  I M amazing.  I M revolution!  I M sexy!  I M, transport........"

    I M Mentally Dead due to your Ad Campaign.  :dizzy:

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    20k(base) for a 137hp/126tq car..  I realize power isn't everything in a car but man..dollar to power ratio is off on this one!

     

    On a seious note. Good review. I enjoy reading them. And it is cool that you can get some fun TRD parts for a car like this. That should help spark the aftermarket and youth to get into this. Also, at 137hp it should help parents feel comfortable buying/letting them drive theirs. Yet, they can still modify the car..good high school -> college car.

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    Just say no to Scion. Toyota's compact cars are some of the most uninspired on the market. They're a huge part of the reason people don't car about driving. If the reward when you get behind the wheel of the two most popular cars in America (Camry and Corolla) is flaccid acceleration and terrible, numb steering, it's no wonder the car culture in the US is dwindling.

     

    If you're shopping for a fun sub-$20k hatchback, my top pics are as follows:

     

    Chevy Sonic Turbo

    Ford Fiesta 1.0EB

    Ford Focus 2.0L

    Mazda 3 2.0L

    Honda Fit

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    ^ A friend of mine picked up a 1.0 Fiesta about a month ago. That is a fun little car.  Very tall gearing, but that is expected. Especially because it is a 5spd rather than a 6spd.

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    ^ A friend of mine picked up a 1.0 Fiesta about a month ago. That is a fun little car.  Very tall gearing, but that is expected. Especially because it is a 5spd rather than a 6spd.

     

    I don't know why Ford is such a holdout on 6-speed manuals in their mainstream compacts. They already have 6-speeds in the ST models, just gear that unit less aggressively.

    Edited by cp-the-nerd

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    ^ A friend of mine picked up a 1.0 Fiesta about a month ago. That is a fun little car.  Very tall gearing, but that is expected. Especially because it is a 5spd rather than a 6spd.

     

    I don't know why Ford is such a holdout on 6-speed manuals in their mainstream compacts. They already have 6-speeds in the ST models, just gear that unit less aggressively.

     

    I'm really not sure. It could still be a fuel economy thing by having them all tall gears..?  But I think the Fiesta is the only one with a 5spd. The Focus manual is a 6spd along with the obvious ST cars.

     

    Technically 4th is considered an overdrive gear at 0.95:1 and 5th is 0.756:1

     

    But it was a fun little car to drive. The clutch and gear shifter felt good. Not too long or too short of a throw. Clutch didn't feel SUPER light like I've felt in other manual economy cars. It grabbed at a good point. It was a fun driving experience. I didn't dirve it at highway speeds so I don't know how the power is at 70mph but I got up to 50 and it felt more than adequate for a car of its class.

    Edited by ccap41

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    Wait, the refreshed Focus uses a 6-speed manual now? That's good to know.

    Nope I guess I was halfway wrong. I knew the new 1.0 Focus got a 6spd and I guess I just assumed the 2.0 did as well. But, I was wrong.

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    Wait, the refreshed Focus uses a 6-speed manual now? That's good to know.

    Nope I guess I was halfway wrong. I knew the new 1.0 Focus got a 6spd and I guess I just assumed the 2.0 did as well. But, I was wrong.

     

     

    In that case it just reinforces my confusion. There must be some financial case for keeping the 5-speeds around. Oh well.

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    Wait, the refreshed Focus uses a 6-speed manual now? That's good to know.

    Nope I guess I was halfway wrong. I knew the new 1.0 Focus got a 6spd and I guess I just assumed the 2.0 did as well. But, I was wrong.

     

     

    In that case it just reinforces my confusion. There must be some financial case for keeping the 5-speeds around. Oh well.

     

    Completely agree.. It just seems odd to have a 5spd and a 6spd..then the auto.  Only thing I can really think of is just the way they are geared to the engines. They must have been designed together therefore they are at the right rpm for each gear/speed that they(the engineers) want. And redesigning isn't worth it till a new engine probably. Or the people buying them don't reall care as the take rate is probably pretty dang low.

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    I think it's a nifty car for the price. Nothing wrong with affordable little runts like these. I mean, the people buying these just want something simple and straightforward. 

     

    It's a good product for the money, but nothing special in this segment.

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