Scion just rolled out two brand-new 2016 models for the subcompact and compact segments — with this iM hatchback being the firm’s shot against the Kia Forte5, Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Sonic. The single-trim entry price of below $20,000 is set to be fairly well-equipped and roomy versus the rivals mentioned; the iM is almost the exact same size as the Ford Focus and VW Golf.
But those expecting a credible threat to those car’s performance might be underwhelmed. The chassis seems fairly promising with a double-wishbone independent rear suspension paired with sport-tuned electronic power steering. Big rubber and a standard sport body kit are nice to have at all price levels, as are the LED accents and LED brake lights.
The iM runs a 1.8-liter four-cylinder putting out just 138 horsepower through a standard six-speed manual. The auto option is a ‘seven-speed’ CVTi-S that Scion promises will be much more responsive than is typical for the genre of transmission. A sport mode and autostick manual shift selections are possible with the automatic, which also delivers a very impressive 37-mpg highway efficiency rating.
Overall, the Scion iM will major in being well-equipped at all price levels, being a responsive handler and easy to park with its city-friendly dimensions.
Design-wise, we are less than thrilled with the iM’s style versus the very-cool concept shown earlier this year with the same name. Despite being an all-new look front and rear, there are strong Toyota Matrix cues in the jumbo door openings and glasshouse. The iM will also share the fundamental drivetrain of the Matrix, but will be far more comfortable thanks to a double dose of cabin insulation and standard 7-inch display audio plus 4-inch gauge screens.
On sale this Fall, the iM should be a volume player for the Scion brand as it broadens its appeal beyond the aging xB and xD box-cars.
2016 Scion iM
Five Doors, a Hatch and Room for Adventure:
All-New 2016 Scion iM Ready to Fire Up the Fun Hatch Segment
Distinctively cool versatile 5-door design
An expected MSRP of under $20,000 for fully equipped mono-spec model
High fun factor and high fuel economy estimated at 37 MPG highway
Choice of 6-speed stick shift or advanced CVTi-S with 7-step shifting
Roomy cabin with premium amenities
Sophisticated chassis for sophisticated moves
NEW YORK, March 31, 2015 – If the badge on the all-new 2016 Scion iM stood for “instant message,” the message to young buyers would be that they can now get a fun-to-drive, high-style, high-content, high-MPG rated hatchback for a whole lot less than they’d expect. The all-new Scion iM arrives in dealerships this fall, starting under $20,000. In true Scion practice, that’s for a mono-spec model equipped like an upgrade model from competitors.
The Scion iM hatchback joins the all-new 2016 Scion iA sedan for a one-two punch in the subcompact and compact segments.
The all-new 2016 Scion iM is the answer for young buyers looking for a sporty hatchback, but who still need to pay for things like rent, food, school loans and weekend fun with friends. Its bodylines are ripped. The cabin is roomy, refined, versatile and high-tech-equipped. The 1.8-liter DOHC engine is eager to rev and very easy on gas. The chassis, with sophisticated double-wishbone rear suspension and standard 17-inch alloy wheels, is ready to smooth out urban bumps and tame adventurous curves. For more hands-on driving fun, a six-speed stick shift is also available.
For safety, the 2016 Scion iM comes with eight standard airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag and a front passenger seat cushion airbag.
Design: The Meaning of iM
In the name, the “i” stands for individual. Intriguing. Easy on the customer’s income. For the M, think modern, multi-faceted and magnetic. The iM could be a first new car, but don’t call it “entry level.” It will easily compare to hatches that start in the same price neighborhood but then demand a higher tax bracket when you add in needed upgrade options.
The Scion iM shows a familiar face, with a hexagon lower grille, sharp-eyed headlights and side bezels with honeycomb mesh pattern seen also on the brand’s FR-S sports car. That aerodynamic expression carries into the profile, which conveys dynamic movement from the lower front to the rear. It’s like a “swoosh line” rendered in steel.
Detailing on the Scion iM belies the affordable pricing. The piano black grille treatment, standard sporty body aero kit, LED daytime running lights and taillights leave an unmistakable signature. Also true to the Scion way, the color selection gives the design tremendous visual pop: Blizzard Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Black Sand Pearl, Barcelona Red Metallic, Spring Green Metallic and Electric Storm Blue.
One Spec: Fun
Gas prices come down. Gas prices go back up. Young buyers like to avoid pain at the pump no matter what. The 2016 Scion iM offers a sweet spot of performance and efficiency, with Scion estimating a 37-MPG highway fuel economy rating. Then comes the fun side. The 137 hp 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine uses Valvematic continuously variable valve timing (lift and phasing) technology to offer a broad torque curve, so the iM feels responsive in all situations.
For driving purists, the Scion iM has a standard 6-speed stick shift that’s a slick shift, making for an engaging and active driving experience. Got hills? The Scion iM comes standard with Hill Start Assist, which helps prevent roll-back when you’re pulling away from a stop sign or traffic light on an incline.
The optional automatic is also perfectly suited to the 1.8-liter engine. It’s an intelligent Continuously Variable Transmission that’s been sport-tuned for driving pleasure. That’s why it’s called the CVTi-S. Not all CVTs operate as responsively as the CVTi-S in the Scion iM. This one’s got both a Sport mode as well as manual shifting capability with seven stepped shift points.
In Sport mode, the CVTi-S alters shift points and also provides a livelier feel through the electric power steering programming and accelerator responsiveness. G AI-SHIFT logic detects lateral G force during cornering and maintains engine speed by restricting unnecessary shift changes.
Using the console shifter, the driver can make fast, sequential shifts through the transmission’s seven predefined steps, accompanied by the familiar sense of positive shift engagement. The 4.2-inch TFT multi-information display within the instrument cluster displays M mode activity, including the “gear” position, and other vehicle information.
It’s Got the Moves
In the Scion iM, instant gratification behind the wheel will turn to long-term love down the road. Driving enthusiasts know well the value of a high-strength body structure and a sophisticated four-wheel independent suspension. Based on the tC sports coupe platform, the 2016 Scion iM checks those boxes by using ample high-strength steel and special reinforcements in the structure. And it goes further, making the rear suspension the double-wishbone type, a design offering the added benefit of not impinging on cargo room.
Add in standard 17-inch alloy wheels with fat 225/45R17 tires, and the Scion iM delivers a tight, taut road feel and a compliant ride quality. The Electronic Power Steering (EPS) system makes low-speed maneuvering a breeze and provides good feel and less assistance at highway speeds. It also helps boost fuel efficiency, because the system consumes power only when assist is needed.
Premium Interior without the Premium Price
Inside, it will be love at first seating in the standard bolstered front sport seats. They fit the body like a glove and also integrate a Whiplash Injury Lessen (WIL) structure for occupant protection.
High quality materials abound throughout the Scion iM cabin, where the layered dashboard design combines sports car-inspired instrument panel styling with easy to reach, easy to use controls. With ideas borrowed from the luxury car realm, the Scion iM keeps noise outside with an acoustic layer windshield, foam-type insulation and floor silencer sheets.
The Scion iM’s premium feel on the road is matched by a lengthy roster of premium amenities – all included as standard with the brand’s famous mono-spec strategy. Start with versatility, which comes from the 60/40 fold-down rear seats and standard cargo cover. A roomy glove box and console box are augmented by numerous front door pockets and storage bins throughout.
As a Scion, the iM naturally comes with high-grade standard multi-media system. The 6-speaker Pioneer sound system will play from a variety of sources, including iPods, of course, and other devices. You control it all through an easy to use 7-inch Pioneer Display Audio unit that also includes standard HD Radio and Aha. It’s through that screen that you view the standard rear view backup camera.
Real leather wraps the steering wheel, an unexpected detail in this price class.
The sporty wheel puts fingertip switches for audio, multi-info display and hands-free phone calls via Bluetooth at your fingertips. The 4.2-inch color TFT multi-information display (Scion’s first) between the main instrument gauges provides displays for the car’s audio system and other functions.
The Scion iM keeps the value surprises coming. All cars in this segment come with air conditioning; the Scion iM steps up a class with dual-zone automatic A/C control. And on cold mornings, the color-keyed heated power-folding exterior mirrors (yes, standard power-folding mirrors) get fog or frost cleared up in a hurry. Auto on/off headlamps are another convenience inherited from a higher segment.
Build It Your Way
One could buy the Scion iM, choose the color and be perfectly happy with the result. For those who see the car as a blank canvas, Scion offers a full range of dealer-installed accessories. A sampling includes:
Navigation upgrade kit, body graphics, cargo area enhancements, interior light kit, all-weather floor mats and more. A roof rack system expands versatility. The
Scion iM will also offer a line of TRD (Toyota Racing Development) performance accessories, including an air intake system, anti-roll bar, lowering springs and more.
Scion drivers love their pets, and so does Scion. The iM will offer a range of cabin enhancements to take the stress out of carrying furry friends. Available through dealers, pet-friendly accessories include a dog harness with tether, door guards, seat pet barrier and even a grass pad, which discourages your doggie from standing on center console.
A number of Scion dealers have inaugurated Pure Process Plus, which allows customers to research a car through Scion.com, find it at a dealership, apply for credit and secure a price, all without leaving the couch. Scion will continue working with dealers and Toyota Financial Services to fine-tune the process and plans to significantly expand its reach in 2015.
Like all Scion models, the 2016 iM is covered by a three -year/36,000-mile limited warranty and five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. It also comes with Scion
Service Boost, a complimentary plan covering normal factory-scheduled maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first, and two years of 24-hour roadside assistance.
Scion continues to be the test laboratory division for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. From its start in 2003, Scion’s goal was to offer products and processes that stand apart from the crowd. Scion offers distinctive vehicles that reflect owners’ passions with a model line-up that includes the iconic xB urban utility vehicle, the tC sports coupe, the FR-S rear-wheel drive sports car, and the premium micro-subcompact iQ. The all-new Scion iM 5-door hatchback and the all-new iA sedan will arrive this fall. Scion also appeals to a youthful audience by offering a simple, no-haggle buying experience and by engaging with potential customers in meaningful and creative ways. For more information, visit www.scion.com.
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.