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2016 Scion iM Review - First Drive

We test drive Scion's latest addition, a 5-door hatchback

Jun 29, 2015

By now, you might have figured out the 2016 Scion iM is essentially a much better looking Toyota Auris, with a price tag at $18,460 for the manual transmission and $19,200 if you opt for the CVTi-S automatic transmission. After driving it through coastal California, unfortunately, it's just as basic performance wise as you might imagine. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have room for growth.

2016 scion im rear hatch Photo 2/25   |   2016 Scion Im Rear Hatch

Right off the bat you'll notice the Scion iM isn't built for speed. Don't expect to be winning any drag races with it. Even with a more powerful engine than the iA, the iM still falls short in the excitement department. Scion proved with the FR-S that a fun car doesn't need to have gobs of horsepower, but the iM lacks a pep under WOT and could have better suspension. I hoped for a hot hatch like the AE86, EK9 or Volkswagen GTI but found a stylized people mover. Not to say the aftermarket won't be able to up the driving enjoyment - we'll have to wait and see.

Inside the cabin is the premium feel of leather and piano black accents. The iM seems ideal for the urban driver whose commute constantly involves navigating through the city. In a place like San Francisco, Calif., the standard Hill Start Assist feature is suited perfectly for the extremely steep streets. Additionally, in cold mornings the standard power-folding mirrors are heated to clear up fog or frost, and passengers will appreciate the dual-zone automatic A/C control. The iM was a quiet ride on smooth surfaces, too, helped in part because of the acoustic layer windshield, foam type insulation, and floor silencer sheets. Parking in tight spots was also a breeze thanks to the quality backup camera and center display.

2016 scion im driver side front view Photo 6/25   |   2016 Scion Im Driver Side Front View

Inside the cabin is a premium feel of leather and piano black accents-feel being the operative word. The center console is user friendly and in front of the driver, an excellent looking dashboard with a center info graphic display much like on our old project Lexus NX. Still, at the back of your mind you're reminded that it's still a Scion and not it's more expensive cousin Lexus. The iM seems ideal for the urban driver whose commute constantly involves navigating through the city. In a place like San Francisco, Calif., the standard Hill Start Assist feature is suited perfectly for the extremely steep streets. Additionally, in cold mornings the standard power-folding mirrors are heated to clear up fog or frost, and passengers will appreciate the dual-zone automatic A/C control. The iM was a quiet ride, too, no doubt because of the acoustic layer windshield, foam type insulation, and floor silencer sheets. Parking in tight spots was also a breeze thanks to the backup camera.

Scion even brought out a TRD variant of the Scion iM that's been fitted with TRD swaybars and an intake. I'm no professional driver, but if you were to blindfold me, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the base iM and one with TRD parts. Based on the tC platform, the iM uses high-strength steel and special reinforcements in the chassis structure, which in my experience helped make the hatchback a decent driving experience.

We're sure most, if not all, will agree that the striking iM concept seen at auto shows last year was the for hope production trim. Again, if you get a more aggressive front bumper and throw on some 18-inch Rays wheels it will be closer to the concept. Given the choice, I'd choose the iM over the iA. It has better styling, slightly more horsepower, and slightly better handling. It is cool the premium features come as standard equipment.

2016 scion im passenger side rear quarter view Photo 10/25   |   2016 Scion Im Passenger Side Rear Quarter View

For those sold on the affordable hatch, note that air suspension company Air Runner has already made a kit for the Scion iM. At the end of the day we have to remember that Scion can't cater to only performance junkies. The Scion iM has potential in the aftermarket industry. Air suspension company Air Runner has already made a kit for the five-door hatch. It's only a matter of time before somebody guts out the interior, swaps in a rad motor and takes it rally racing. On the other hand, in stock form it does just fine as an urban vehicle. While Scion may be growing up, it hasn't forgotten its stylish fun roots but we hope to see a bump in production performance with future updates.

2016 scion im driver side front view Photo 14/25   |   2016 Scion Im Driver Side Front View
2016 scion im front view Photo 18/25   |   2016 Scion Im Front View
2016 scion im driver side profile Photo 22/25   |   2016 Scion Im Driver Side Profile

That New Car Smell
The Sticker Pricing: $18,460 Manual; $19,200 Automatic
Engine: 1.8-liter 16v DOHC 4-cylinder
Scale Tipping: 2,943 lbs Manual/ 3,031 lbs Automatic
Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive
Footwork & Chassis: Front MacPherson struts; Rear double wishbone; 23mm , front 22mm rear stabilizer bars
Brakes: 11.7" front 11" rear disc brakes
Wheels & Tires: 17" alloy wheels
At the Pump: 27/36/31 Manual; 28/37/32 Automatic (city/highway/combined)
The Competition: VW Golf, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, Ford Focus
Deep Thoughts: Has potential to be a cool car with the help of aftermarket parts. Like the iA, the Scion iM is equipped with primo standard equipment.

Jofel Tolosa
646 Articles

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