2016 Scion iM Automatic and Manual Hit the Test Track [Video]

2016 Scion iM
Nathan Adlen with the 2016 Scion iM in manual and CVT varieties.

The all-new 2016 Scion iM is the brand’s latest compact hatchback and spiritual successor to parent company Toyota’s discontinued Matrix.

Both the Matrix and the iM are Corolla-based hatchbacks, although the iM has a few tricks up its sleeve. First off, even though it shares the basic architecture of the Corolla, it actually shares the independent rear suspension with the Scion tC coupe, making it a much better handler.

The iM isn’t new for those who live outside the United States. It is basically a Scion-ized version of the Toyota Auris, and shares that car’s styling and chassis. The Scion version, however, has extra sporty bits like the full body kit and aggressive front air dam, along with nicely styled alloy wheels.

Under the hood is a 1.8-liter four cylinder making 137 horsepower and 126 lb-ft of torque. These numbers are a bit low, and the iM is predictably tepid off the line. The power is sent to the front wheels through either a six-speed manual or a CVT automatic. TFLCar took both of these to Bandimere Speedway in Colorado to see which one was faster.

2016 Scion iM

Handling is predictable if not exciting. The CVT tends to push more thanks to the extra 88 pounds over the front wheels, although the independent rear suspension helps save the iM from being a total bore. The manual feels significantly sprightlier than the CVT and enjoys corners more, although neither one is a performance standout.

The six-speed manual, while being much more entertaining than the CVT, isn’t a particularly stellar manual. It’s an economy car all the way, with long throws and a soft, high clutch take-up. Compared with the iA – the iM’s Mazda-built stablemate – there’s no contest, as the iA’s manual is a joy to use.

The iM is a very practical car. The front seats are roomy and comfortable and there is room in the back for real people to sit. Space behind the rear seats is on par for the class, as is the space with the seats folded. Others in the class, especially the Hyundai Elantra, have more room, but the iM is perfectly usable for most tasks.

2016 scion iM toyota corolla hatchback
2016 Scion iM

Scion has a one-model, no-haggle sales model, so the only real option is the transmission. The as-tested price for the iM manual is $19,594, while the automatic is $20,334. They represent solid value in the compact class.

At the pump, the CVT gets slightly better mileage than the manual, at least on paper. The six-speed is rated at 27 mpg city, 36 mpg highway and 31 combined, while the CVT is rated at 28 city, 37 highway and 32 combined.

On the TFLcar scale of

  • Buy It,
  • Lease It,
  • Rent It,
  • or Forget It,

The 2016 Scion iM manual gets a Lease It, while the CVT gets a Rent It.

Check out the full video review for more information on the 2016 Scion iM: