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2016 Scion iM: First Drive

2016 Scion iM: First Drive

Scion has made a name for itself by making funky, youth-oriented cars and hatchbacks sold at reasonable prices. That recipe hasn’t changed with the new 2016 Scion iM, but the ingredients have most definitely gone premium. I recently found myself at the national press launch of both the iM and its brother, the iA sedan, where I got to spend plenty of time tossing each car through the Malibu canyons along the California coast. One thing became glaringly apparent: it’s all about the content.

Sure, Scion has always sold its vehicles in “mono-spec” trims, with each model offering the same content besides color and transmission choices, but the new iM ups the ante with features and equipment coming standard that are normally optional extras – even on some entry-level luxury nameplates.

The iM boasts an impressive number of airbags and other safety features, Bluetooth within is standard 7-inch infotainment display, an engine that gets 37 mpg on the highway, and 17-inch wheels that look like they belong on a Lexus. And that’s just the surface.

Beyond content, the iM rides on some impressive underpinnings that make it as fun to drive as it is practical. Independent suspension at all four corners with stiff sway bars keeps things level and tight without killing the ride, and relatively wide 225-series tires hold the road with surprising tenacity. And don’t forget, the iM comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission.

Of course price is a huge factor for Scion and its customer base. Well for $18,460, the iM’s base price backs up the inexpensive Scion promise. For those who don’t want to row their own, a CVT is optional, with its base price starting at $19,200. Not bad for a hatchback than can haul five people or the entire contents of a college dorm room while not getting less than 30 mpg.

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2016 Scion iA: First Drive

2016 Scion iA: First Drive

Scion is taking full advantage of Toyota’s global reach and its relations with Mazda. The iM hatchback is Scion’s version of the Corolla hatch, or as it’s officially known, the Auris. What’s more, the iA sedan is Scion’s version of the upcoming 2015 Mazda2 Sedan. Both the iM and iA benefit from their respective namesakes’ characteristics. For the iA, that means Mazda-like driving prowess and an efficient yet powerful SkyActiv powertrain.

Those benefits were clearly evident in the iA at Scion’s national launch for both cars. The twisty canyon roads in the eastern section of Malibu, California proved the perfected place to size up the Scion-ified Mazda.

Now the iA won’t directly compete with anything Mazda is offering because Mazda won’t bring is sedan version of the 2 – only the hatchback. Conversely, Scion won’t offer a hatchback version of the iA. In reality, the iM hatchback serves that role and keeps the two automakers from robbing sales from each other. It’s a nice partnership that should benefit both greatly.

Mazda’s benefit is Toyota’s half ownership of the Salamanca plant in Mexico where both the iA and Mazda2 are built. Cost sharing and platform stretching are good for the bottom line. But how does all this affect the iA as Scion’s first sedan? Are the cost-cutting measures a bad thing? Keep reading to find out.

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2016 Scion iM & iA First Drive: What Do You Want To Know?

2016 Scion iM & iA First Drive: What Do You Want To Know?

Scion has invited me to be one of the first journalists to drive its newest models in the sunny state of California. Both the 2016 Scion iA and 2016 Scion iM are new to the brand in the U.S. for 2016, though both the iA sedan and iM hatchback are rebadged versions of other cars sold around the world. Regardless, the two new models add some much-needed life to Toyota’s youth-oriented brand.

So now is your chance to ask questions about both cars in the comment section down below. You ask, I respond: it’s that simple. I’ll have the questions ready to ask Toyota engineers and designers at next week’s launch.

Though some info will be embargoed until Monday, June 29, I can give answers to technical questions before then. Those will largely be answered in the comment section. After the Embargo is lifted, you’ll have the chance to read my full review on both cars with all your questions answered, including driving impressions.

Remember, both the iA and iM are new to Scion, but have been in production as other cars. The iA sedan is a reworked 2015 Mazda2 Sedan – meaning it has some big shoes to fill with regards to driving dynamics. The iM, on the other hand, is known as the 2015 Toyota Auris in many parts of the world, and is basically a hatchback version of the 2014 Toyota Corolla. The iM’s platform also underpins the 2015 Lexus CT200h.

These new vehicles are expected to revitalize the Scion brand, so there’s a lot riding on them. Don’t hesitate to ask hard questions!

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Scion aiming for no less than 20,000 annual FR-S sales

Scion aiming for no less than 20,000 annual FR-S sales

The Scion FR-S may be the unfortunate love child created from the Subaru and Toyota sports car collaboration, but the American company still has ambitious plans for its latest sports coupe. It has revealed that it plans on shifting 20,000 units annually for the foreseeable future.

Scion’s vice president Jack Hollis stated that "We’re confident we can sell every one we get our hands on.” So it’s clear that Scion believes the FR-S can help give the brand that little boost of life it’s been looking for for many, many years. Not a great deal of reviews have been published about the Scion FR-S, but if it’s as similar to the Toyota GT 86 and the Subaru BRZ as we’re led to believe, then it should be a true sports car which Scion should be proud to sell.

Just as a quick reminder, the Scion FR-S shares the same 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder engine as both the GT 86 and BRZ, and produces no less than 200HP. Sure that may not sound like a lot, but the FR-S tips the scales at around 2,500 pounds and when combined with a manual transmission and rear-wheel drive, the FR-S promises to be the perfect, affordable driver’s car.

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Subaru/Toyota FT-86 will be badged as Scion in the US: Features extremely low center of gravity

Subaru/Toyota FT-86 will be badged as Scion in the US: Features extremely low center of gravity

The Toyota/Subaru FT-86 creation has been buzzing about the internet since the two announced their partnership, but after months of concepts and hearsay, a Subaru source has provided a bit of official information about the new sports car. The FT-86 will be arriving in the U.S. badged as a Scion FR-S and will feature one of the lowest centers of gravity of any vehicle out on the market. It will actually be right behind the Porsche GT3 and the Ferrari 458, thanks to the boxer engine provided to Toyota by Subaru. Subaru’s boxer engine has a flat, low profile that balances weight efficiently and provides quick handling response and flat, confident cornering.

We’re expected to see debuts of all the FT-86 variants when the Tokyo Motor Show opens its doors in December 2011 so we’ll have more details on those models at that time. Subaru’s version of the FT-86 is also being considered for an STI version which could come sporting a new generation, naturally aspirated (not turbocharged as with other STI models) 2.0-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine.

Speaking of the STI, Subaru sources also say that the new STI will take at least two years before coming to the market and will be drastically different from the base Impreza. In fact, this is part of Subaru’s plan to separate their conventional models from their performance models. The Impreza was put together with an eye out for economy, but the STI will be a different beast altogether. It will get its own engine, one that will have nothing to do with the Toyota engine created for the FT-86 project and will make it easier for Subaru to market the vehicle as a performance model. No specific figures were given, but we expect the new STI to carry a turbocharged version of the 2.5 liter boxer engine with more than 305 HP on tap. The engine will be mated to a fully synchronized close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission.

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