Sunday, September 27, 2015


There are two vehicles being exhibited here, both being appeared, promoted and publicized together by Scion, also stopped by one another on Scion showroom floors beginning Sept. 1 ... so we should present them together. 

The smaller hatchback Scion iM is a Scion variant of the Japan-market Toyota Auris. It has the same stage as the Toyota Corolla and Scion tC and sort of fills the same utilitarian wagon/hatchback part for Scion that the old Matrix wagon/hatchback accomplished for Toyota, just on a littler scale. The iM comes in only one trim level –-Mono Spec - so your just decisions are transmission and shading. With a 137-hp 1.8-liter four-chamber mated to a six-speed manual or CVT, it's really clear. 

The other section, the iA, is the mutant affection offspring of a marriage of corporate accommodation, an edgy snatch for deals, any deals, by a foundering division that figured out how to offer less than 60,000 vehicles aggregate a year ago. Where did the iA originate from? Mazda has this plant in Mexico that makes Mazda 2s, and the plant had a bit additional limit. Scion, the item arranging spending plan of which was rerouted into Toyota amid the Great Recession, required an auto to offer. Yet, it couldn't offer the Mazda 2 hatch on the grounds that that would be excessively comparable, making it impossible to the Scion iM. So Scion chose to attempt and offer a Mazda 2 car when even Mazda knew such a creature wouldn't offer in the U.S. market. Hell, Mazda can't even offer Mazda 2 hatchbacks and ruled against constantly offering the odd looking car in its own showroom

Scion, if you didn’t offer the fabulous FR-S, we’d stage an intervention.

Under the mutant skin (or what Scion calls “daringly curved sheetmetal”) and behind the gigantic whale-shark “trapezoidal” grille, however, the iA is basically a Mazda 2, which is a solid B-segment people mover. It has a 106-hp 1.5-liter four mated to a six-speed manual or automatic. It gets up to 42 mpg hwy. There’s room inside for a family of four and some of their luggage in the trunk. It’s a solid car once you look beneath the skin and ignore the provenance.

Considering the two cars’ circuitous lineages, they’re both surprisingly stable and even responsive to drive, at least by the standards of their individual classes.

The iM is remarkably quiet in seemingly all circumstances. We didn’t run a dB meter in it or anything, but we’ll guess it’s as quiet as sedans a class or two up. CVT transmissions are getting better all the time, and this is certainly one of the better examples of that increasingly popular technology. For just tooling around town, you might not even know it’s a CVT, despite Scion’s programming in seven of those fake “steps” in the shifting algorithm. Step sternly on the throttle and you might notice some higher-revving whine from the 1.8-liter four -- peak output of 137 hp comes well up on the tach at 6,100 rpm, so to really make it move you’ll need some revs. Torque peak of 126 lb-ft also comes higher up on the scale too, at 4,000 rpm. Those numbers will move the 2,943-pound manual iM and 3,031-pound automatic around the city at respectable, if not impressive, rates. The six-speed manual clutch engages fairly high up in the pedal travel, which means a little more work for the driver. Inside, there is plenty of room for adults both front and back. There’s not a lot of luggage space behind the second-row folding seats, but overall –- especially considering its $19,255 starting sticker -- it’s a perfectly competent competitor in the class. The question is how many buyers will want this over a Mazda 3 iTouring, Focus SE, Elantra GT or Golf S, the competitors Scion lists for it.

The iA, meanwhile ... well, Scion says that, of the focus groupers who liked it, style was one of the things they liked most. So there you go. Behind the wheel in the automatic (not a CVT), the car feels really plodding. Once you step on it, however, it shows its Mazda Zoom Zoom and responds with stable and predictable understeer on twisty mountain two-lanes. We are reminded that we liked driving the Mazda 2, too. The manual transmission is no short-throw Miata, though, requiring lengthy pulls to change gears and, again, longer clutch-pedal takeup before engagement. But if you’re feeling like your iA is too slow, that’s only in the lower rev ranges -- just stomp on the throttle, and it’ll rise nicely to the occasion. The tiny 1.5-liter manages only 106 hp total and 1 mpg more peak highway mileage than the 1.8 in the iM, though, another potential hit on iA sales. Still, 42 mpg highway is pretty darn good. And sticker price starts at $16,495, which is downright affordable. 

As they some of the time holler at us in those driving schools: Scion, what's the deal with you? Scion has had two strong hits in its 12-year presence: the first xB and the current FR-S. Some would say it's had stand out hit, and it's not the xB. On the off chance that you measure accomplishment by deals, it has no hits right now. The iQ? xD? After our top choice, the FR-S, all whatever remains of the Scions were what might as well be called an informative supplement in the titan corpse of Toyota: present all the ideal opportunity for no genuine reason and at times troublesome. 

Will these two new models haul Scion out of its demise winding? Deal objectives are mild: high 30,000s to 40,000 for the iM and 20,000 for the iA. So regardless of the possibility that these two surpass those numbers, it's far fetched they'll make Scion a player. We'll figure out without a doubt beginning Sept. 1 when the pair goes at a bargain. 

Good fortunes, Scion. In any case, meanwhile, find another xB or FR-S to make the division more than only a young deals trial, will ya?

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