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The standard features of the Scion iM Base include 1.8L I-4 137hp engine, 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), side seat mounted airbags, curtain 1st and 2nd row overhead airbags, driver knee airbag, airbag occupancy sensor, automatic air conditioning, 17" aluminum wheels, cruise control, ABS and driveline traction control, electronic stability.
Starting at: $18,460
The Scion iM is not as quick as some of its rivals. The 137-hp 1.8-liter engine is not enough to move its 3000 pounds with much authority.
The CVT with seven steps is better than the 6-speed manual for spirited driving. The throws in the 6-speed manual are long and imprecise, and clutch travel is long. The CVT gets the most out of the meager power. Even if you don’t shift the CVT manually, its sport mode keeps revs up.
The ride can feel unrefined at times, and over the bumps it’s almost jittery.
The handling is sporty, with its struts in front, wishbones in rear, and wide tires. It can be driven with verve, something that can’t be said of many cars this size. But the electric power steering is oddly numb, and doesn’t transmit much road feel so it’s hard to find the limit of tossability.
It’s not easy to pull off making a hatchback look like it’s moving, but the Scion iM succeeds. Its nose thrusts, its tailgate slopes, its wide 17-inch tires give it presence, and black grille says it’s serious.
It cuts a fine form, like the departed Toyota Matrix, much enjoyed in its time.
The front sport seats are well bolstered, but the upholstery looks and feels fairly cheap, shiny in the sun and not rugged. The driver’s seat is height adjustable, while the rear seat is short on headroom. There’s not a lot of cargo room in back when the rear seatbacks are up, but they’re 60/40 and fold flat.
The dashboard is covered in fashionable piano black plastic that smudges with fingers. There’s a lot of upscale soft-touch trim. Swooping lines embrace round vents and a simple instrument layout, with a 7-inch monitor.
The acoustic windshield and silencing in the floor reduce wind and road noise, but it’s still constant.
Compared to the all-new Scion iA sedan, which is precise and eager (built by Mazda for Scion), the all-new Scion iM falls short. You still get a lot of function and style for the money, but the lame power, choppy ride and cheap upholstery are disappointing.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. Sam Moses contributed to this report.
Scion iM ($18,460) comes with the manual transmission or CVT ($19,200) and is well equipped, with a 4.2-inch color TFT multi-information display, Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary port. Also power-folding heated mirrors, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, keyless entry, and six-speaker Pioneer sound system. Navigation is available.
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