2016 Scion iM Review: fun, practical urban wheels

Scion has renewed its urban vehicle offering with the 2016 Scion iM, a five-door hatchback vehicle that combines swift handling and efficiency.

The Scion iM is powered by a 137 horsepower 1.8 litre dual overhead cam four-cylinder engine featuring the VALVEMATIC continuously variable valve train. This engine has been proven in other Toyota products over time and is a known reliable and efficient unit. In the iM, this engine returns fuel efficiency ratings up to 7.4L /100 km (city/highway combined) when equipped with the CVT, or 7.7L /100 km (city/highway combined) for those with the manual gearbox.

Scion iM up close and personal

Scion iM up close and personal

This engine is paired either with a six-speed manual transmission or a sport-tuned continuously variable transmission (CVTi-S) with seven stepped shift points.

At the wheel, this Scion handles the corners well but does not punish the passengers with a harsh ride. The model tested had the six-speed manual transmission and these gears were well spaced, allowing a very good use of the engine’s power band. The iM as offered for 2016 will never be mistaken for a sports car; its role is to bring sporty handling, practicality and decent performance to the urban segment.

Scion iM Stick shift

The shift

About practicality, the iM has a very tight turning radius, a very useful feature when time comes to park in a tight urban parking spot or maneuver a U-turn on narrow city streets.

Style-wise, the iM comes to Canada with a full-body aerodynamics kit including modern rocker panels and sporty 17” alloy wheels with low-profile tires. Details include a honeycomb front grille, side fenders, muscular front bumper, aggressive angular headlights, LED daytime running lights and tail lamps, shark-fin antenna, and a rear spoiler.

The side profile of the Scion iM

The side profile of the Scion iM

Every Scion iM comes equipped the same way as this hatchback is offered as a mono-spec configuration (corporate language, meaning there is no trim level). The sole question mark is whether you’d prefer a manual transmission or the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

The inside proves to be a nice place to spend time, with a pair of comfortable front seats that also offer a decent amount of lateral support while providing the driver with the good sitting position typical Toyota and Scion. The leather-wrapped steering wheel tilts and telescopes while the gear lever for the six-speed manual transmission, also leather-wrapped, falls into hand when needed. All other controls, from the steering wheel-mounted radio and Bluetooth controls to the dash-mounted ones, are well laid out and easy to use.

Of note is a nifty receptacle at the bottom of the centre console, in front of the shifter, which houses a USB plug as well as 12V power, providing a safe spot for the driver’s smart phone.

Rear passengers will find decent space and a comfortable seat, a feature not often found on vehicles aimed to urbanites. Said rear seat can flip down, divided 60/40, offering a flat cargo surface for those times when bigger objects are being carried around.

The good side of this “no trim level” policy common with other Scion products is a vehicle coming very well equipped from the start. Standard features includes, amongst many other details: a 7” Display Audio System with streaming Aha Radio, six speakers, Bluetooth connectivity, and steering wheel-mounted controls. A 4.2” full-colour multi-information display, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual-zone climate control, front sport seats, white accent stitching, power folding and adjustable heated exterior mirrors, power door locks with keyless entry, and power windows with driver’s side auto-down function are also part of the package.

The 2016 Scion iM steering wheel

The 2016 Scion iM steering wheel

Safety-wise, the Scion iM comes with eight airbags and active front headrests with whiplash protection, Hill Start Assist, a standard back-up camera and the six active safety technologies of Scion’s Star Safety System, which include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Smart Stop Technology (SST).

Exterior colours range from the conservative Black Sand Pearl, Blizzard Pearl (white, as seen on the iM pictured ) and Classic Silver Metallic to more dynamic colours like Electric Storm Blue, Barcelona Red Metallic and Spring Green.

While the iM is considered a one trim-level package, Scion does offer a few options, like the Premium Display Audio System with Navigation, Bongiovi Acoustics DPS, cargo net and cargo liner; a short option list that will keep the selection headache to a minimum.

This peppy urban vehicle will set you back $21,165 for a manual transmission iM and $21,990 if equipped with the CVT.

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