Scion’s Sporty Compact Hatchback
Scion says it “appeals to a youthful audience” and is the “test laboratory” for Toyota by offering products that “stand apart from the crowd.” With the all-new 2016 iM five-door hatchback with the six-speed manual, how close does Scion get to doing and being exactly what they set out to be?
The iM has a sporty look and flavor so it may be exactly what you’re looking for, if pushing cornering limits and winning drag races isn’t your thing.
The front-wheel drive 2016 Scion iM has a 1.8-liter four-cylinder, 16-valve engine putting out 137 hp and 126 lb-ft of torque running on unleaded regular. Our test car had a six-speed manual and an EPA rating at 27 City / 36 Highway / 31 Combined. The manual had relatively long throws so extra attention was necessary to make sure each desired gear was realized. It did come with standard hill start assist, which worked well and was appreciated as it provides about two seconds of holding on an incline when pulling away from a stop sign or traffic light. With the optional CVTi-S seven-speed automatic transmission, the car squeezes an extra mpg and is rated at 28/37/32.
In 368 miles of spirited (translation: high revs and pushing the manual transmission through its paces) 65-percent highway/35-percent city driving we averaged 28.2 mpg. If I drove even a bit
more conservatively (Ho Hum), I easily could have exceed the EPA combined estimate of 31 mpg. But why risk disappointing Scion that tells me to have fun in the iM!
The sweet spot for the power band is in the 2nd–3rd-4th gear sequence in the 3,000–4,500 rpm range, where the engine pulls its strongest. Take it up-to 5,000 rpm and the engine has just about reached its pulling maximum. The iM’s 3,000-pound curb weight keeps it from being considered quick as our 0 – 60 test runs at just under 9.0 seconds showed.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The 2016 Scion iM handles flat in slow-to-medium tight cornering, but understeer was present when pushed hard. The 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels shod with 225/45R17 all-season tires were matched to the front MacPherson struts and shocks and double-wishbone rear suspension. The overall ride was confident and planted at highway speeds, but the electric power steering was calibrated so the handling was vague and soft and made the iM not so engaging to drive. It became clear that Scion designed the iM to be more of an economy and commuter car than a sports car. This is fine, except the iM looks sporty, so expectations for zippy cornering on the twisties were unfortunately not fully realized.
Stopping was straight with no fading from the front ventilated and rear solid disc brakes, assisted by the four-wheel anti-lock brake system, brake assist, smart stop technology and the electronic brake distribution system.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The 2016 Scion iM is a sharp-looking compact hatchback and, as said earlier, has a sporty look. The pointy nose and piano-black lower and upper honeycomb grilles are set-off by swept-back—what Scion
calls “sharp-eyed”—(Halogen) headlights and side bezels. The raked windshield morphs into a sloping roofline with a shark fin antenna, ending in a spoiler atop the rear hatch finished-off with LED taillights, rear window wiper and chrome tipped exhausts. It’s all very aerodynamic and sporty and comes in colors such as Blizzard Pearl and Electric Storm Blue. The exterior design was by far the most appealing aspect of the 2016 Scion iM.
Driving Experience: Interior
The simple, no-gimmick and clean design of the Scion iM interior was appreciated. Sliding into the black and dark grey cloth seats (no leather option) with manual adjusters places the driver before deep-set gauges that were illuminated with a soft blue light. Included was a 4.2-inch information display. The three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel with contrasting top stitching had audio and telephone controls and was positioned by the tilt and telescoping steering wheel column. Sightlines were improved by removing the rear seat headrests, and using the heated, power-adjustable outside mirrors. For safety while backing, there is a rear view camera. For changing lanes, the outside mirrors have LED turn indicators.
Three adults can sit in the back seat of the iM, but to keep them on friendly terms maybe limit the rear occupancy to two. Where the back seat shines is when the 60/40 split, reclining and fold-flat seats are laid out, providing good storage space that is also accessible from the easy opening liftback.
The infotainment system is centered on a seven-inch color display for the AM/FM/CD/MP3 HD radio, featuring Aha. Driven through six speakers, the infotainment system was also equipped with
an USB port, iPod connectivity, Aux-in jacks and Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free telephone – all capable of being operated from the steering wheel. The radio had an On/Off/Volume knob, but for added driver safety and convenience, Clean Fleet Report would have also liked to see a channel selecting knob.
Interior features include cruise control, a dual-zone automatic climate system, remote keyless entry, voice recognition, power windows (with one touch up and down for the driver’s side), power door locks and outside mirrors, multiple cup holders, carpeted floor mats and cargo mat ($185 option), center console with storage and 12-volt accessory outlets.
Safety and Convenience
The 2016 Scion iM came with safety and convenience features including eight air bags, a tire pressure monitoring system, vehicle stability control, traction control system, projector beam Halogen headlights with fog and running lights, wheel locks, first aid kit and an anti-theft engine immobilizer.
Pricing and Warranties
Base pricing for the 2016 iM with the six-speed manual transmission is $18,460; with the CVTi-S seven-speed automatic, the base price is $19,200. Clean Fleet Report’s 2016 iM with the six-speed
manual transmission and optional equipment had an MSRP of $19,038. All prices exclude the $795 freight and handling charge.
The 2016 Scion iM has not been rated by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The 2016 iM comes with these warranties:
- Basic – Three-year/36,000-mile
- Powertrain – Five-year/60,000-mile
- Roadside Assistance – Two-year/24,000-mile
- Corrosion Perforation – Five-year/Unlimited-mile
- Factory Scheduled Maintenance – Two-year/25,000-mile
Observations: 2016 Scion iM
All Scions come with “mono-spec pricing” that the company says offers “full features and full value.” The thinking behind this is to make the iM stand out in a very crowded field that includes the Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Kia Soul, Ford Focus and others. They are doing a good job with a high-content hatchback for under $20,000.
But, price is not necessarily what buyers in this category are most concerned with. Number one is performance, and this is where the Scion iM comes up a bit short versus some of their competitors. The Scion iM with its high highway mileage, comfortable ride, roomy interior and standard equipment make it better-suited as a commuter car than a sporty five-door.
Don’t get me wrong, the 2016 Scion iM has a sporty look and flavor and that may be exactly what you are looking for. Assuming, of course, your interest is not in pushing cornering limits and winning drag races.
When at your local Scion dealer, take an iM for a lengthy test drive. Find some highway onramps for hard acceleration and tight corners to judge for yourself if the the sporty looking Scion iM is actually sporty enough to be parked in your garage.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle, which does not address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology, during which we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements. Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class or are among the top mpg vehicles on the market. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at email@example.com.