The Toyota-Engineered Scion
We Like: Having a practical replacement for the Toyota Matrix.
We Don’t Like: Its lackluster dynamics, obvious cost-cutting.
Want proof that Toyota is capable of engineering a small car? Look no further than the Scion iM. Better known to Europeans as the Toyota Auris, the iM showcases the kind of simple, reliable, and affordable basic transportation that Toyota made its name building.
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Based on Auris underpinnings, the iM takes up where the youth-oriented Toyota Matrix left off. Visually identical to the Auris—save for the boy-racer ground effects—the iM packages a small I-4 into a practical four-door hatchback body style. Making 137 hp, the 1.8-liter I-4 under the hood and its six-speed manual pairing proved adequate in city driving, but the iM quickly ran out of steam during highway testing. Slow as it is, the engine is quiet and smooth all the way to redline.
Some of us found issues with the manual’s long, vague shift action and poorly placed pedals. “It was like a joystick,” Scott Burgess said, “never knowing what gear you were going to throw into next.” Guest judge Chris Theodore summed up the iM’s driving dynamics: “It is competent at everything and exceptional at nothing.”
Elsewhere, the Scion iM appears to be a good value play. The interior design is thoughtful and intuitive, and the materials are of nice quality up front. A few judges complimented the Scion’s white leatherlike dashboard trim, which classes up the interior.
The back seat is a different story. Although the fold-flat back seats are comfortable enough for adults, the high material quality doesn’t make its way aft of the B-pillar. Plastics and materials in the back are decidedly cheaper than those found in the front, ruining the ambience of the cabin. “Cost-cutting efforts are quite obvious,” Ed Loh noted. “It’s cheaper-feeling back here than in the front.”
Although the iM is a breath of fresh air for the struggling Scion, it also illustrates everything wrong with the so-called youth-oriented brand. In simply importing a practical 4-year-old hatchback from Europe, Toyota continues to ignore the customers the Scion brand tries to target. “Millennials want brands that are authentic and credible,” Angus MacKenzie said. “Scion is neither.”
|2016 Scion iM|
|Price As Tested||$19,594|
|Vehicle Layout||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback|
|Engine||1.8L/137-hp/126-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|Length x Width x Height||170.5 x 69.3 x 55.3|
|Curb Weight (F/R Dist)||2,994 lb (60/40%)|
|Acceleration, 0-60 mph||8.9 sec|
|Quarter Mile||16.8 sec @ 82.8 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||128 ft|
|Lateral Acceleration||0.80 g (avg)|
|MT Figure Eight||28.3 sec @ 0.58 g (avg)|
|EPA City/Hwy/Comb||27/36/31 mpg|
|Energy Consumption, City/Hwy||125/94 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 Emissions||0.64 lb/mile|