23,000 miles later and still running like a boss! For the last year, we've been putting our '16 Scion iM project car through its paces. Ninety percent of the time, the five-door hatch acts as my daily driver. The little fella also doubles as the office rental car. For example, if Jofel needs to visit bae in the Bay, I don't hesitate to throw him the keys for the 800-mile round-trip journey.
You might be wondering why the iM though... Well, the answer is simple: It's versatile, economical, and easy to drive. It can carry all of our camera equipment and luggage while also being able to transport the staff. The iM also gets great gas mileage (27/39 mpg city/highway), just what we need when our bosses keeps cutting our travel budgets. Lastly, it has some surprising creature comforts that we can't complain about, like navigation, 7" touchscreen, and Bluetooth—it even has power-folding mirrors and a back-up cam so I don't end up smashing into Jofel's FR-S. What the car does lack in is a bit of performance, but with a 137hp, 126-lb-ft 1.8L four-cylinder, and a car that drives off the dealership lot at less than $19K, you can't expect too much. But we hit up DC Sports to see if we could free up a few extra ponies and give it a little more oomph.
Two basic bolt-ons to give any restrictive engine power are an intake and header combo. DC Sports developed a cold-air intake system that relocates the air filter outside of the engine compartment and into the bumper for cooler air, which usually means more power. An intake also improves throttle response and gives you an additional noise in the mid-to-top end. The DC 4-2-1 header is a ceramic-coated, stainless steel piece with CNC mandrel bends and equal-length primary piping and is designed to give more power in the low- to mid-range. Smooth exhaust gas flow is the final product, which should in turn make more power as well.
Before installing the parts, we made a quick baseline dyno read at SP Engineering, where we registered 115.1 whp and 108.5 lb-ft of torque. After we installed the DC goodies, we strapped the iM back to the dyno and saw an 11-whp gain that was consistent throughout the rpm range. When all was said and done, our little iM put down a 126.4 and 114.1 lb-ft of torque. It's nothing groundbreaking but enough extra power to notice when we're passing grandpa holding up the fast lane!
Keepin' It on the Cheap
We realize no one is going to spend thousands of dollars on parts for their iM, so we made sure all of our mods made sense. So far, we've lowered the hatchback on RS-R springs ($249) and added the DC Sports header, intake, and strut bar (official pricing is yet to be released, but expect it to be affordable). Originally, we had some Konig wheels matched to Falken FK450 tires, a package that costs around $1,500. After a few months, we decided to upgrade to something a bit more stylish and "JDM" with 18x8.5" WedsSport SA20Rs ($370 each). Stay tuned as we'll have a full photo shoot of our iM in a future issue!
DC also threw us its new front strut bar for our iM. It's a solid one-piece design that helps eliminate body flex and increases torsional stiffness. It was a breeze to install and looks sharp!