By Barbara & Schaffer
San Francisco – Automakers like to toss out statistics and Scion has a big one as they increase their model lineup by nearly 67 percent. That’s what happens when you expand your model lineup from three to five.
When Toyota created the Scion brand in 2002 to appeal to Generation Y consumers (that’s people who at that time were born from 1977-1994) it seemed like a great idea and the trendy smaller cars looked like they may be a big success. They were good cars, but the brand didn’t seem to advance much from that point and they made only small additions to the lineup. The only new and exciting entry since the brand’s beginning was the FR-S sports car Scion developed with Subaru in 2012.
With the introduction of the all-new 2016 Scion iA Sport Sedan and the Sporty and versatile 5-door Scion iM is trying to shift the brand into a higher gear, and these new models look as if they might work. Both the iA and iM are about the same size (which is about the same as a Ford Focus) but the iM has a more powerful engine than the iA, more sophisticated suspension and a bit more premium feel.
Both models are derived from other brands, but now they are Scions, which are arriving at dealerships in September.
2016 Scion iA Sport Sedan
As Scion’s first sedan – the other Scions have been hatchbacks – the iA has a lot going for it including a super low price, roomy interior and very good fuel economy. Plus Scion planners have made the buying process very simple with what they call a “mono-spec” configuration.
The 2016 Scion iA has a base price of $16,495, including the destination charge — that’s for a six-speed mono-spec model. With a six-speed automatic transmission, the price is $17,595.
The “mono-spec” model means you can only buy the iA one way, with a choice of two transmissions and seven colors. It’s much like walking into a grocery store and buying a can of soup that comes in two sizes and seven flavors. And like the soup, there’s no dickering on the price, either.
The equipment list for such and inexpensive car is impressive, however. It has features like push-button start, keyless entry, pre-collision safety system and seven-inch multimedia system with voice recognition. The windows are power, it has cruise control and just like the luxury cars, it has a large dial on the console to duplicate some touch screen functions.
There is Bluetooth, steering wheel mounted audio controls, rear-view camera, Pandora®, Aha™ and Stitcher audio sources along with USB and power outlets. Once you buy an iA, the dealers do have an available navigation system.
The Scion iA looks good. The styling is aggressive with the large mouth-like family grill leading the way, flanked by almost sinister looking eyes – okay, they are actually headlights. The body is raked forward adding to the forceful stance and it even has reasonable sized 16-inch alloy wheels – no hubcaps here.
The interior looks richer than the price would indicate. There’s stitching on the dash, carbon-fiber looking trim panels and lots of soft-touch surfaces. It seats five, actually more like four and one-half. The front seats are stylish buckets with a good range of adjustments, and the steering wheels is a tilt and telescoping model with a variety of controls on the face. The rear seat back is split 60/40 and expands the cargo space from the trunk when needed. The seats are any color you want as long as it’s a two-tone black and dark blue cloth.
Under the hood is a 106-hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It has direct injection and a double overhead cam. This is one of the smallest engines I’ve driven in recent years, and although I haven’t seen any acceleration times, there are some estimates of a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of about 10 seconds. The car feels spunky and agile though, thanks in part to its low 2,400-pound weight.
The body feels solid and it handled nicely on the tight corners we encountered driving through the windy roads in the Santa Cruz Mountains, south of San Francisco. Where the 2016 Scion iA really performs is at the gas pump. The EPA rates the automatic transmission version at 33 mpg city, 42 mpg highway and 37 mpg combined. The manual is listed at 31/41/35-mpg.
I would give the Scion iA high marks for value. It’s a great starter car or inexpensive commuter or running around town car.
2016 Scion iM Sporty Five-Door
With its racy exterior, hatchback roominess and spunky performance, the 2016 Scion iM was my favorite of the new cars that make up the 67 percent increase in the Scion lineup.
A spin-off of the Auris hatchback, which Toyota sells nearly everywhere but the North America, the new Scion iM has a stylish design that looks like it might be one of those fast, fun-to-drive pocket rockets. The Chief Engineer’s vision for the Scion iM sporty hatchback was “Wakuwaku Dokidoki.” “Waku Doki” is a Japanese expression for heart-pumping adrenalin rush. I wouldn’t say I get “Waku Doki” from looking at the iM, but it’s very attractive with a sporty persona.
The front face of the iM looks more like a Toyota to me than Scion; it’s attractive with the slim upper grille and trim projector beam headlights pods. Lower on the fascia there is a larger center air inlet, flanked by decorative side bezels. All the openings have a unique honeycomb mesh. The sides have an aggressive sculpted look especially with the side sport body kit and 17-inch alloy wheels. It’s finished with a broad rear stance.
Like the iA, the iM is a mono-spec full-featured car with choices limited to six colors and two transmissions. The equipment list includes all the power, AC, cruise and keyless entry features along with a rear backup camera, Pioneer audio with HD and Aha, auxiliary inputs, Bluetooth, etc.
The iM has a good inventory of safety equipment with eight airbags, including a driver’s knee bag and front passenger seat-cushion bag. It also includes Toyota’s Star Safety System which adds Vehicle Stability Control, traction control, ABS brakes, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and Smart Stop Technology. And it includes a first aid kit.
A 137-hp, 1.8-liter four cylinder engine drives the front wheels of the 2016 Scion iM. It is attached to a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional CVTi-S (Continuously Variable Transmission with Sport mode). The CVT is better than most and feels more like something with gears (seven) instead of belts and pulleys. The EPA rates the CVT version at 28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined. The manual gets one mile per gallon less in every category. Acceleration estimates from the buff books say 0 to 60 mph takes about 9.5 seconds – I could find no official test results.
My driving partner at the introduction and I were especially impressed by how quiet the iM is; the only noise came from the tire noise on rough road surfaces. When we were on freshly paved surfaces, you could almost hear your heart beat.
With the mono-spec configuration, pricing is simple: $19,255 for the manual transmission version and $19,995 for the CVTi-S model.
The 2016 Scion iM seems to have more substance, styling and character than the iA and a little better performance. It could easily be a comfortable first car, a good empty nest ride or a nice step up from a little econobox or used car. Get more information about the Scion lineup at http://www.scion.com/.