2016 Scion iA and 2016 Scion iM - Sons of Toyota Lose Quirkiness, Keep Value - First Drive Review

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"Drive...He Said" just returned from a Scion Automobiles media preview in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

It was a first chance for seat time in the all-new 2016 Scion iA and 2016 Scion iM automobiles.

You see, the "Son of Toyota" brand for Generation Y once thrived on the xB and xD slightly larger than Kei cars. There was even an iQ "Squished-Mobile" competition for Smart For Two.

All just evaporated. Poof. Gone. Vanished.

That left the sporty, but not as small family convenient,  Scion TC and the Subaru-made  Scion FR-S  on the shelf.

Scion group vice-president Doug Murtha insists that Scion is still attracting customers on average 15 years younger than its competition. While value and packaging are key selling points, an aging Gen Y seeks higher style.

- Cryptic Zoom-Zoomer:

WHAT: Subcompact B category , front-wheel drive, city small family 4-door notchback car; iA is basically a re-nosed and -bumpered and --badged DJ-series Mazda2 (Demio); The 1500 cc 4-cylinder powerplant with Mazda Skyactiv technology generates 106 hp; Transmission choices: a 6-speed manual or an optional 6-speed torque converter automatic, each with Skyactiv technology.

Chassis layout: front strut/ rear torsion beam. Front disc and rear drum brakes stop iA16"-inch alloy wheels standard. Voice-commands run Bluetooth connectivity; audio, and optional navigation.

Long standard goodies list: cruise control, 2 USB ports, keyless entry, push-button start, tilt  & telescoping steering wheel, carpeted floor mats, pod-style 7"-inch touch screen w/ center console rotary dial control, 60/40 locking folding split rear seat backs, power locks, windows, power heated side mirrors, first aid kit

WHEN: On sale: September 1, 2015

WHERE: Scion dealers, North American market. For 2016, Scion is rolling out industry first: "Pure Process Plus." Initially through limited dealerships, most transaction documents can be completed and exchanged via email. The Scion vehicle is white glove delivered to the customer.

HOW MUCH: Price w/6-speed manual transmission = $15,700; Options: 6-speed automatic transmission = + $1,100 ; GPS SD-card Navigation with 2 years data update = + $300

HOW THIRSTY: 42 miles-per-gallon

HOW SAFE: 8 airbags, extensive use of high tensile steel, laser based Pre-Collision braking up to 18 mph & full Brake lock Override upon rear impact

WHERE MADE: Assembled by Mazda in new Salamanca, Guanajuato, Mexico plant

GOES LIKE: Light enough for confident freeway merging and brisk stop-light getaways; Six-speed transmission never lets engine speed fall off too much for meaningful shove; Sport mode can cough up passing some dozing cars on the fly; Steering is slightly overboosted at speed, but grip is decent; Brake pedal response is good & firm.

FEELS LIKE: Soft touch materials abound; Robust, but adequately comfy fabrics; Switchgear refined as in any Mazda6; Cabin remains wind & road noise free at 85 mph; Doors close with solid thud; Panels fit nicely;  Accent details seem upscale; Seats a bit too narrow at the shoulder for wider folk; Left of center Gauge Pod victim of sun glare.

HOW APP-licable: Aha, Pandora & Stitcher music; 6 Speaker stereo

LOOKS: That "Shnoz," which swallowed a whale for lunch, is "Love It or Hate It." The rear quarters are a chip off the narrower sleek Mazda3.

VALUE: Possibly unbeatable on standard features for $$ . No-haggle "Pure Pricing." Warranty: 3 yrs/ 36k mi. bumper-to-bumper, 5 yrs./ 60k  mi. powertrain + 2 yrs./ 25k mi. scheduled maintenance

COMPETITORS: Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Chevy Sonic

 

2016 Scion iM ( - Euro-Hatch (You can call it "Sportback"):

WHAT: Compact A category , front-wheel drive, small family 5-door hatchback car; iM is a re-branded, Euro-designed MC-series Toyota Auris; An 1800 cc 4-cylinder gas powerplant with direct & sequential injection & variable valve lift pumps out 137 hp; Transmission choices: a 6-speed manual or optional Continuously Variable Transmission with 7-step ratio spacing & Gear Hold in fast corners.

Chassis layout: front strut/ rear double wishbone independent; Four wheel disc brakes, front vented, stop iM; 17"-inch alloy wheels standard; Voice-commands for Bluetooth connectivity; audio, and optional navigation.

Long standard goodies list: cruise control, 2 USB ports, keyless entry, push-button start, carpeted floor mats, integrated 7"-inch touch LCD infotainment screen, 60/40 folding split rear seat back, power locks, windows, power heated side mirrors, tilt & telescoping leather wrapped steering wheel, 4.2" LCD multi-function display

WHEN: On sale: September 1, 2015

WHERE: Scion dealers

HOW MUCH: Price w/6-speed manual transmission = $18,460; Options: CVT sequential shift transmission = + $740 ; GPS SD-card Navigation with 2 years data update = + $300; TRD air intake & suspension bits also on offer

HOW THIRSTY: 28 miles-per-gallon

HOW SAFE: 8 airbags, high tensile steel

WHERE MADE: Takaoka plant, Toyota City, Aichi, Japan

GOES LIKE: Revs must surpass 3000 rpm for enough out-of-corners grunt; Kill traction control and dump clutch for tail wagging; Six-speed manual gating is long, but direct in throw; Clutch pedal re-engages too high; Steering is quick, but feel inert; Low body roll; Decent ride for 17" wheels; Not the worst undesteerer in class; Brake pedal linear but low in initial travel bite.

FEELS LIKE: Contrasting white leatherette across dash and plenty of soft places to touch; Supportive sport buckets; Corolla intuitive controls ; Drum tight build; 7" Center stack touch infotainent display suffers from wash-out and has laggard response; Seat distance from pedals relative to steering wheel adjustment not ideal.

HOW APP-licable: Aha with Facebook & Twitter feeds; 6 Speaker Pioneer stereo.

LOOKS: Sharply creased with a bit of Civic Si out front; Sleeker than Scion TC .

VALUE: Feature wise, for sure. Power-wise, needs more. Warranty: See above for iA.

COMPETITORS: Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra GT, Kia Forte 5, 2016 Chevy Cruze hatchback, Volkswagen Golf....Mazda 3

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