The Corolla iM returns unchanged for 2018 in its second year as a hatchback companion to Toyota's well-known compact sedan. While Corolla is a household name, iM is a newer badge brought over from the slow-selling Scion line that disappeared after 2016.
It's tempting to think of the iM as a successor to the Matrix that effectively served as a Corolla hatchback up to the 2014 model year, but it's based on a European model called the Auris that rides on a shorter wheelbase and so offers significantly less rear-seat space than the sedan and is smaller inside overall than the old Matrix.
The iM's motivation comes from a 1.8L four-cylinder borrowed from the Corolla LE Eco trim, tuned for 137 hp and 126 lb-ft of torque and offered with either a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable (CVT) automatic.
Unlike the sedan's wide array of trims and equipment levels, the iM comes in a single, nicely-equipped trim that includes heated front seats, seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth, dual-zone automatic climate control and keyless entry. It's what you can't get here that makes the iM stand out: niceties like passive keyless entry, navigation, smartphone integration and heated rear seats aren't available even as options. Those are strange omissions in a marketplace that's seeing small cars creep upscale, including Toyota's own Corolla sedan, which has added a new upscale trim to its range for 2018.
We like the way the iM looks, but its performance is pretty underwhelming with the CVT, which has to works hard to take advantage of what performance is available from the little engine. This design might be a recent addition to the North American market, but as the Auris it's been around in Europe since 2012, which explains why it feels so lackluster compared to other compacts.
At least the iM's fuel consumption estimates are attractive, at 8.3/6.5 L/100 km (city/highway) with the CVT and 8.6/6.8 with the six-speed.