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2016 iM: Scion Hatches a New Hatch

By Sue Mead, September 5th, 2015

Scion says its new 2016 iM hatchback is "waku-waku, doki-doki." Translation: Over-the-top excitement.

This Japanese brand within the Toyota stable was developed to attract the young and young-at-heart in the American market. Scion believes its all-new 2016 Scion iM offers excitement, an impressive array of standard features, top-notch safety, and an affordable price. We agree.

Scion has re-energized its portfolio with two new offerings: the 2016 Scion iM hatchback and the 2016 Scion iA sedan. While the sedan is essentially a Mazda2 -- with the exception of a Scion-trimmed front and rear -- the iM is an updated version of Toyota's Auris, a hatchback popular in Europe.

The five-door, five-passenger iM has a lot going for it, and will attract the attention of hatchback enthusiasts, sedan buyers seeking more utility, or consumers looking for the versatility of a small SUV, but wanting a different footprint. It comes with good looks, more room and stowage than its compact category might suggest, and a competitive price, which starts at $18,460 for the manual transmission version and $19,200 with the automatic (along with a $795 delivery charge). It joins competitors like the Ford Focus, Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra Touring, and the VW Golf.

The 2016 iM has looks that resemble the Toyota Matrix, penned to give an impression of forward motion. Its length, at just under 171 inches, is similar to others in its class. Sporty touches come from its windswept headlamps, a chrome exhaust tip, piano black grille treatment, 17-inch alloy wheels, and 225-width tires.

Stepping inside, you'll find an attractive cabin that features piano black trim, contrast stitching, round vents, soft-touch accents, and nicely bolstered front seats. In the rear are 60/40 split seats that fold flat to improve in cargo carrying. It can hold up to 21 cu.-ft. of goods in the back.

Motivating the iM is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 137 horsepower and 126 lb.-ft. of torque and is paired to a standard six-speed manual or an available continuously variable transmission; the CVT comes with a sport mode and a manual-like sport shift mode that has seven computer-optimized shift points.

EPA fuel economy is good for its segment with 27 mpg city/36 highway/31 combined with the manual transmission and 30/37/32 mpg with the CVT.

We drove both the automatic and manual versions of the new iM in preproduction prototypes, but concentrated our review on the manual model, with Toyota's TRD package that was spawned from its racing development group. The cabin is roomy and airy in the front with a windswept windshield, however the rear is better served for two passengers, rather than three, and for riders under 6 feet, as the hatch's contour slopes downward in the back, making shorter headroom.

We found good power for everyday driving, especially for a vehicle of its class and price, and four-wheel disc brakes that did their job, stopping the iM in a measured manner. The electric power steering carved turns well over a course of highway motoring and driving along the tight and winding canyon roads in coastal southern California.

The iM's handling was clearly enhanced by the TRD package's specialized air filter, lowering springs, and anti-roll bars that work with the stock suspension to tighten the handling in corners and during passing maneuvers. We were also impressed by the standard Hill Start Assist that holds the iM for 2 seconds and keeps it from rolling backwards, an aid to drivers who are challenged by manual transmissions and steep grades.

The Scion iM comes in one well-equipped trim, without factory options, although a few items can be dealer-installed, such as a navigation system, roof rack, cargo accessories, a pet carrier, and a TRD performance upgrade package.

Notable is Scion's long list of standard safety attributes including the Star Safety System, with stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, a brake assist, and "smart stop" which, under certain conditions, reduces engine power when both gas and brake pedals are pressed at the same time. Also onboard is a rear backup camera.

Specifications

Base price $18,460 (as tested: $19,255)
Curb weight 2,943 lbs.
Displacement 1.8-liter
Engine type 16-valve 4-cyl. w/EFI
Epa mileage rating 27 mpg city, 36 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 14 gal.
Horsepower (net) 137 at 6100 rpm
Overall length 170.5 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 126 at 4000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD compact hatchback
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