Ah, Scion. The younger, hipper sibling to the established and reliable Toyota brand. The new kid on the block. The one who’s had some growing pains over the past few years but is determined to make a dent in the ultra-competitive marketplace.
With an existing xB (small SUV), tC, (coupe) and FR-S (sports coupe) in the roster, it makes sense that their latest offering, the iM, be a hatchback to round out a youth-based lineup.
Canadians sure do like their hatchbacks, with nearly every manufacturer offering one. I’m a fan of the versatility and functionality of a hatchback. I always have been and probably always will be. I double as a musician, so it’s handy for loading guitars, amps, drums etc. I’m a fan of Ikea, so the hatch portion makes it easy to support the Swedish furniture folks. And overall, it generally offers larger cargo volume opposed to sedans.
The catch here is that the all-new 2016 Scion iM comes with a very tiny option sheet. The only relevant options are the choice of transmission, either a six-speed DIY gearbox or a six-speed CVT. An interesting strategy for sure, let’s see how the iM did on my week long test drive.
Appearance wise, the iM is handsome, starting with attractive 17” alloy wheels (the only choice available). It’s got an athletic-ish stance and isn’t out to reinvent the proverbial wheel design-wise. You’ll know it’s a hatchback at first glance. The rear end bears a slight resemblance to the current generation of Hyundai Elantra GT’s, which isn’t a sour point at all.
The strong slope of the front end gives a sporty feel and there’s a great flow throughout the exterior that makes the iM easy on the eyes.
While my tester came in Electric Storm Blue, there are five other colour options to pick from.
Engine-wise, there’s only one option, which is a 1.8L four cylinder DOCH 16-valve, six-speed motor putting out 137 HP and 126 lb-ft. of torque, which is plenty to keep this hatch in motion, whether it’s an urban or rural setting.
Of the few choices you get in the car, here’s one of them: You can pick the manual option, OR the two-pedal option CVT option, which is ever-so-slightly better rated for fuel consumption.
- City/Highway/Combined for L/100 km manual: 8.6/6.6/7.7
- City/Highway/Combined for L/100 km CVT: 8.3/6.3/7.4
Not bad for a car that runs on 53 L of regular gas with a curb weight of 3,968 lbs.
My tester was equipped with a manual gearbox and I found navigating the gears to be smooth, responsive and generally “fun” to drive. The same can be said for the steering/handling for this under-$22K car. It’s not going to win any races or awards for performance but what it will give you is stability on the road and with parent company Toyota supporting Scion, you’re getting their top notch build quality.
The halogen front lights, LED day runners and LED tail lights frame the stylish iM nicely and the road noise at higher speeds is minimal, which is impressive for the price point.
Inside, you’ll find a good looking interior framed by a seven-inch infotainment system. Standard features include a backup camera, sport-fabric seats (which are quite comfortable), 4.2” driver TFT display screen, dual climate controls, piano black trim, leather wrapped tilt/telescopic steering, Bluetooth capability, a six-speaker system and Aha Radio, to name a few.
Noticeably absent is a sunroof, CD player, satellite radio and navigation, although the dealer will fit you with an aftermarket option but since you’ve paired your smartphone to the iM, it looks like they want you to use your in-phone navigation app. It won’t be long before CD players follow the same route as the tape deck with the explosion of digital music.
As far as interiors go, I’m a fan of what the iM offers. It’s modern, simplistic and well laid out. The younger folks want to be able to sit down, have their phones connected and simply drive, and that’s what Scion’s latest offering provides.
Space-wise, there’s 588 L in the trunk and rear seating is good for two people, great for added cargo space and not quite ideal for long trips with three folks back there.
For a car hovering in the $20K range, the interior is well packaged and suits the style of the car.
Overall, Scion’s latest offering, I feel, will do well for the brand. The car looks good, drives well, is functional, fuel efficient, has plenty of standard features and is priced properly.
The obstacle will be in the strong competition the iM faces, competition that’s been around the block a number of times. However, having perennial powerhouse Toyota carefully keeping an active eye on things will increase chances for success for Scion’s newest offering.
Some may scoff at their “you’ll take what we give you” approach but Scion has jammed the iM full of lots of features and enough style that their strategy just may work. It’s not like they’re lacking in the quantity and quality department after all.
If you’re in the market for a compact hatchback, give the iM a whirl. There’s a long road ahead but Scion and Toyota are confident they’ll go far.