2016 Scion iM: First Drive Of New Compact Hatchback Page 2

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2016 Scion iM drive event, Philadelphia area, Sept 2015

2016 Scion iM drive event, Philadelphia area, Sept 2015

Enlarge Photo

We did wonder how well the swathes of piano black trim--not only around the Pioneer audio system's 7-inch touchscreen display but also on door-panel inserts--would last without tiny scratches, not to mention the dust they accumulate.

We drove a pair of iMs, one CVT and one manual that was also fitted with optional TRD (Toyota Racing Division) lowered suspension and alloy wheels.

Our main impression of the CVT-equipped car was that it droned and whined to a surprising degree when asked for substantial power.

RELATED: Scion iQ To Be Pulled Off Sale As Tiny Car Fails To Sell In U.S.

We weren't racing around, mind you; that was just in half an hour of heavy stop-and-go Philadelphia rush-hour highway traffic.

While the car felt slightly heavy for the available power, the ride was smooth. We were surprised at the amount of tire noise transmitted into the cabin on harsh road surfaces, though.

The iM's European focus shows through slightly in its electric power steering, which provided better road feel than most other Toyota products.

2016 Scion iM drive event, Philadelphia area, Sept 2015

2016 Scion iM drive event, Philadelphia area, Sept 2015

Enlarge Photo

The brakes, on the other hand, were squishy and felt less firm and predictable than those of the smaller iA. They worked fine, they just didn't give a particularly nice pedal feel.

Inside, we noted with amusement the switch on the driver's door for power folding heated mirrors--an unusual feature on compact hatchbacks that comes standard as part of the "Monospec" single trim level meant to simplify iM ordering and stocking.

That trim level includes items like dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, LED running lights, a backup camera, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Like the iA, the only choices a Scion iM buyer faces are the transmission, paint color, and whether or not to fit a $900 navigation system wrapped into a package with a higher-end BeSpoke audio system.

The manual iM was more fun to drive, though it didn't come across as particularly powerful, requiring downshifts of as many as three gears to get maximum power at speed during that same rush-hour Philadelphia highway driving.

2016 Scion iM drive event, Philadelphia area, Sept 2015

2016 Scion iM drive event, Philadelphia area, Sept 2015

Enlarge Photo

The suspension was definitely tighter, but while the car didn't look significantly lower than the stock model, it's been a long time since we've driven a car that hit its bump stops multiple times in standard driving.

Almost made us feel like a 24-year-old tuner kid, which was amusing--but not something we'd want to live with every day.

We weren't able to get any useful gas-mileage information on our relatively short drive loops, but we look forward to testing the Scion iM on our usual test cycle sometime this year.

The 2016 Scion iM carries a base price of $19,255 with the six-speed manual gearbox, and $19,995 with the CVT. Both prices include a mandatory $795 delivery fee.

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