2016 Scion iM 6-Speed Manual: Brother from Another Mother [First Impression]

2016 Scion iM

Two things stand out when you spend time with the 2016 Scion iM: its looks and its handling. It looks faster than it is and it handles better than you expect it to. Sure, it gets good mileage with the manual getting 27 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 31 combined, with the CVT achieving 28 mpg city, 37 mpg highway and 32 mpg combined. When compared with the Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra GT, Kia Forte 5 and Mazda3 (among others), the EPA’s numbers are simply “not-too-shabby.

The 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine makes 137 hp @ 6100 rpm and 126 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm. You have to rev it hard to eek out performance, but when commuting, the 2016 Scion iM is as easygoing as an old pair of loafers. Despite long throws and a soft clutch pedal, shifting is easy and somewhat rewarding. The real benefit is an altogether better driver’s car over the continuously variable transmission (CVT).
2016 Scion iM

When equipped with the CVT, the 2016 Scion iM becomes docile and a bit lethargic. It’s slower from 0 to 60 mph, slower on the track, it weighs 88 pounds more than the manual and it’s less balanced. Around our test track, the 2016 Scion iM 6-Speed manual was downright fun around the corners. Other than the 1/9th mile straightaway, you can leave it in second gear and squirt out of the corners.

2014 Toyota Corolla LE Eco Profile

The 2016 Scion iM is based on the Toyota Auris, which is sold overseas. The basis for both vehicles is the “New NC” platform used for the Toyota Corolla. The main differences between the iM/Auris and the Corolla pertain to the utilitarian hatchback setup and the Corolla’s solid torsion-beam setup.

“Thank you Toyota for giving the 2016 iM a double-wishbone independant rear end!!”

2016 Scion iM

Indeed, the 2016 Scion iM best performance attribute was its sophisticated independent rear end. Despite light steering and little road-feel, the 2016 Scion iM with the 6-speed stick shift danced around corners with great adhesion. It was planted and never felt overtaxed despite aggressive driving. Conversely, the 2016 Scion iM with the CVT felt slower to respond and heavier around the corners. It’s slow to accelerate and it plows into the corners when pushed.

With a low MSRP of $19,255 for the manual and $19,995 for the CVT, there’s real value included; unfortunately, both Scions have few options. So, while you get a nice host of standard features, including dual-zone climate control, back-up camera and beefy wheels, there is precious little to design on your own.

Speaking of “design,” all of that body cladding? Yea, it’s all standard. That’s both good and bad. It’s cool if you’re down with Scion design as you get lots of plastic and an aggressive face. It’s a bummer if you want to forgo the cladding… you can’t. Even though the nose cladding looks like it’s two pieces, it isn’t. If you live in snow-country, the nose will plow involuntarily.

Still, it’s an attractive silhouette.

2016 Scion iM

The interior is, compared to a majority of compact hatchbacks it competes against, a bit small.
20.8 cubic feet and about 42.3 cubic feet with the seats down, (maximum cargo space numbers are based on the overseas Toyota Auris’ dimensions). The 60/40 seats fold fairly flat, but the overall interior size is on the smaller side for a compact hatchback.

Seating and interior materials are good quality, but the interior is about as entertaining as the Corolla; which is to say: it’s easy to live with. Nothing fancy and it certainly isn’t as jazzy as the exterior design. Back seats work well for children and average sized adults, but shoulder room is a bit limited.

2016 Scion iM

As a day-to-day commuter and family hauler, the 2016 Scion iM is great. It’s easy to drive, easy to park and it is very smooth on the road. I would go as far as to say it is one of the smoother vehicles in this class. Odd that Toyota didn’t stiffen the suspension given its sporty image.

Is the 2016 Scion iM a hatchback Corolla? Yes, but you should call it a “better driving” Corolla – because it is.

Other Perspectives:

2016 Scion iM: Manual vs. CVT transmission

Roman was invited to drive the Scion iM at press event. Here is an “The Important Stuff You’ve Always Wanted to Know” video of the 2016 Scion iM.

nathan adlen Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism – Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.