Preview: 2016 Scion iM

What does the Canadian automotive market need? More sporty, versatile, five-door hatchbacks, of course. Scion answers the call with the reveal of the Scion iM hatchback here at the 2015 New York Auto Show. Based upon the European market Toyota Auris (and the tC), the iM seeks to fill the mainstream gap in the Scion lineup.

The iM was first shown at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show in concept form wearing a very aggressive body kit (complete with wide front and rear fenders), 19-inch wheels, four-piston front brake calipers clamping onto large ventilated rotors and adjustable coilover suspension - basically, adhering to the formula that most hot-hatch lovers would want to apply to their vehicle.

Scion's lineup has always been known for their youthful, innovative and unique designs - often appealing to the younger crowd that wants something different. And while they're all extremely cool, they've never been known to appeal to the mainstream car-buying market. Scion sets out to forge their way out of the niche market and into the mainstream fold with the iM.

Unfortunately, like most sporty-ish cars, the production-ready version isn't quite as cool. Gone are the wide body fenders and the extremely aggressive body kit. Gone are the big brakes up front. Despite this, the iM is a sharp, purposeful looking hatch that retains the same sporty feel.

Appearance-wise, the iM is unmistakably a Scion/Toyota product. The hexagonal lower grille, LED projector headlights with LED running lights and side bezels with the honeycomb mesh pattern are similar to the FR-S setup. The piano-black grille integrates smartly with the headlight housing, giving the iM a handsome, and sporty front end.

The profile carries on the same style with the upper line being carried all the way from the front fenders to the taillights. The lower lines add contrast with a with a "swoosh" indented into the doors. This gives the profile a dynamic and fluid feel that will certainly appeal to younger buyers.

The body kit comes standard with all iMs and while nowhere near as aggressive as the kit on the concept, it still looks good and certainly complements the dynamic body lines. Colour selection is Scion through and through - bold, punchy and fun: Blizzard Pearl, Classic Silver Metallic, Black Sand Pearl, Barcelona Red Metallic, Spring Green Metallic and Electric Storm Blue.

The iM is powered by Toyota's tried and true 137-hp, 1.8L, DOHC, inline-four, mated to your choice of either a six-speed manual (with hill start assist) or the 'seven-speed' CVT with sport mode. This is generally more than enough horsepower for the type of buyer the iM will more than likely attract while returning a decent fuel mileage score (no official numbers as of yet, but expect it to be good).

Handling duties are well taken care of on the iM. As it's based on the tC sports coupe platform. The iM employs four-wheel independent suspension with a double-wishbone rear setup and high-strength steel and special reinforcements in the structure. The rear wishbone setup, along with being far more capable than a solid beam axle, has the added benefit of allowing more cargo space. Rolling duties come courtesy of standard 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in rather wide-ish 225/45-17 all-season tires.

Today's younger, professional market, demands a quality interior with all the modern convenience features. The front seats have decent bolsters and feature good support and comfort. The sporty theme continues throughout the rest of the interior. The layered dashboard design looks modern, feels good and combines a sports car-inspired instrument panel with easy to reach and intuitive controls. The Scion iM keeps noise levels civil with an acoustic layer windshield, foam-type insulation and floor silencer sheets.

Scion knows its market and realizes the need for an above average multimedia sound system, standard. The 6-speaker Pioneer sound system will play from a variety of sources and devices. A 7-inch Pioneer Display Audio unit (with back-up camera) that also includes Aha radio is also standard.

For that added premium feel, the steering wheel and shifter knob is wrapped in real leather with contrast stitching. The smart wheel puts controls for audio, multi-info display and hands-free phone calls via Bluetooth at your fingertips. The 4.2-inch colour TFT multi-information display between the main instrument gauges provides displays for the car’s audio system and other functions, enabling you to keep your eyes facing forward, a Scion first. For serious audiophiles, a Bongiovi DPS Acoustics sound upgrade is available, or the aftermarket beckons....

Most buyers in this segment are prone to take passengers out of town, go on road trips, or just out and about the town. The iM shows its versatility and makes road trips a breeze with its 60/40 fold-down rear seats and standard cargo cover. A roomy glove box and console box are augmented by numerous front door pockets and storage bins throughout the car.

To keep things cool, the Scion iM comes standard with dual-zone automatic A/C control. Auto on/off headlamps are another welcome standard convenience.

True to the Scion brand, there are options aplenty to satisfy the discerning modern buyer. Buyers can choose to add on a Navigation upgrade kit; cargo area enhancements; and interior light kit to name a few.

Even better news: The Scion iM will also offer a line of TRD (Toyota Racing Development) performance accessories, including an air intake system, lowering springs and more.

While we realize production models can rarely be as cool looking as their concept counterparts, I really was hoping for the wider fender flares. As far as the rest of the car goes, if Scion can keep the price down, I expect this car to be a big hit. It looks sharp, has a gorgeous (for its class) interior, comes with great equipment standard and is fairly customizable.

Appearance-wise, the iM is unmistakably a Scion/Toyota product. The hexagonal lower grille, LED projector headlights with LED running lights 4/9/2015 10:01:59 AM