Written by: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography by: Stephen Spyropoulos
Buying your first car is a significant milestone in your life, one that you will never forget. After passing your G2 license exam, gearheads that are lucky enough are often graced with a hand-me-down family vehicle, a used car off Kijiji, or maybe even a set of keys to a brand spanking new Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, or any other entry-level vehicle. And now there’s a newcomer to that segment, the brand new Scion iM.
When Scion announced the arrival of the iM model to North American shores I could not help but notice that the car looked strangely familiar, like a friend you haven’t seen since the third grade. You knew his or her face, but you could never put a name to it. So I pulled out the Toyota yearbook and began searching. Lo and behold, the truth was revealed. The Scion iM is a Toyota Auris in disguise! The exterior shell, inner workings, and chassis all came from its Corolla-derived Japanese hatchback counterpart. No wonder.
This design has been around since 2012 and staying true to Toyota fashion, it shares the same 1.8-litre 2ZR-FAE engine that has been around since 2009. There is a reason why Toyota builds some of the most reliable products on the market, and that’s because they’ve been refining the same platforms for years on end. Not that it’s a bad thing but I couldn’t help but wonder, would this car be ready to compete in 2016 or would it feel a bit long in the tooth?
The Scion iM comes from the side of Toyota that we are not accustomed to seeing. The iM’s ripped-straight-out-of-Japan styling brings back memories of to the Scion xB when it first hit the market by storm in 2004. But instead of the xB’s controversial boxy look and appeal, the iM poses as a conventional hatchback with a factory body kit, a lowered suspension, a polarizing paint job, cool looking wheels, and an interior that looks like it had a bout with an aftermarket tuner shop. This car was clearly developed during the import-tuner craze of The Fast and Furious days, “iM ready for Importfest!”
Yet, I wonder why Toyota did not choose to use a more potent powerplant in the iM. Mated with a 4-cylinder 1.8-litre motor that delivers 137 hp and 126 lb-ft of torque, it takes a lengthy 8.6 seconds to get from 0 to 100 km/h. The power, or the lack of it, was perhaps the most prevalent and disappointing feature of this car. While at low speeds I had to give props for the Scion’s go-kart-like handling, rapid turn-ins, and peppy throttle response, the lack of oomph kept creeping back into reality.
However, fuel economy was ace thanks to the iM’s small engine, Eco Mode, and feathery 1,334 kg curb weight. Over the week I managed an average of 8.3 L/100km – not bad!
There are two transmission options available, a 6-speed manual and a Continuously Variable Transmission ($825), the latter of which was equipped on our tester. Take our advice and skip the CVT. The manual will supplement the otherwise innocuous driving experience with a few doses of driver engagement.
Due to the lowered suspension the car feels quite harsh over rough terrain. As we have seen in other Scions like the FR-S, handling is sporty and captivating, the chassis is brilliant, but as an overall package, it leaves much to be desired. Untapped potential? Perhaps. But there’s certainly no harm in a little extra power.
I liked the simplicity inside the iM: few buttons and a minimalistic design. While it did feel like the infotainment system could have used a few more knobs, the system was decent and includes USB, auxiliary, and Bluetooth capability. The seats were comfortable, though a bit snug in legroom and cargo space.
The Scion iM is entering the most competitive era of hot hatchbacks since the 80s and if it doesn’t come out swinging, it will drown in the competition. As tested, our Barcelona Red iM hangs around $21,990. At this quite attractive price point, I can understand that some sacrifices had to be made, but I feel like a more powerful engine matched with a sportier setup would attract the younger audience that Scion is aiming at.
While the force isn’t particularly strong with the iM, it does have potential. Scion has given customers a blank canvas and like the FR-S, the iM may need a helping hand from aftermarket enthusiasts. Considering the target age and the current incentives for school graduates, the iM makes for an excellent first car. It is very simple to drive and does not have the power to scare the daylights out of any rookie buyers. Though I’d have a hard time recommending the iM, it does make its case with Toyota’s renowned history of quality and reliability.
型号 Model: 2016 Scion iM
顏色 Paint Type: Barcelona Red Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $21,165
試車售價 Price as Tested: $21,990
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,600
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,330 / 1,760 / 1,405
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,335
引擎 Engine: 1.8L 4-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 137 hp @ 6,100 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 126 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: CVT ($825)
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson strut
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Double wishbone
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 8.3 / 6.3 / 7.4
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 8.3
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P225/45R17