Scion is Back With Two New Models to Show For It

2016 Scion iA.
The 2016 Scion iA.

Scion never went away. But for many enthusiasts and analysts, the brand’s best days in its too-short history can be seen in the rear view mirror.

Two New York Presentations

However, Toyota Motors has other plans for the Toyota sub-brand, launched in 2004 to appeal to young, urban buyers for the most part. At the 2015 New York International Auto Show, Scion unveiled not one, but two new models. Notably, both models target the same customer demographic this brand has always reached.

A double vehicle debut and launch is a rarity in this business, where new reveals are carefully orchestrated and unveiled, usually months apart. Perhaps sensing the urgency of these times, Toyota chose to reveal the subcompact iA sedan and the compact iM hatchback concurrently, with both models going on sale this fall.

Scion is technically a Toyota sub-brand, with those models sold at most Toyota dealerships across the nation. Initially, every Toyota dealer carried Scion, but a few years ago Toyota gave them the option to not carry Scion.

Toyota hasn’t made known the number of dealers that took them up on that offer and they haven’t said if those same dealers will be allowed or required to carry Scion products moving forward. For some dealers, Scion sales have been abysmal with limited showroom space taxing resources.

2016 Scion iM.
The 2016 Scion iM.

2016 Scion iA Subcompact

The Scion iA is the low-price leader for the brand and will replace the poor performing mini iQ after this model year. With a competitive price point of about $16,000, the tiny sedan should appeal to first-time car buyers as well as to families in need of a second vehicle.

The iA has several things going for it, including an estimated 42 mpg highway rating and a standard low-speed “pre collision” system. That system is designed to help mitigate crashes with sonars used to detect the risk of a rear-end collision with a vehicle immediately in front of it. Specifically, as the driver applies the brakes, the system doubles the brake force pressure. And if braking is not applied, automatic deceleration takes place.

The 2016 Scion iA is borne out of a partnership between Toyota and Mazda, with the latter building the iA at an assembly plant in Mexico. Thus, the Scion iA is a twin with the Mazda 2, itself a successful subcompact model as well as a competitor to the Toyota Yaris.

Under the hood of the iA is a 106-horsepower, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It will be paired with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. This model will come equipped with a chrome grille surround and tail pipe, 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry with push button start, and a tilt and telescopic steering column.

2016 Scion iM Compact

The Scion iM is an internal project and appears to be based on the platform underpinning the Toyota Corolla. The hatchback will be priced from under $20,000, a critical price point for young buyers. Unlike the iA with its gaping grille, the iM aligns closer to the Scion look with its hexagon lower grille. Furthermore, it will come equipped with distinctive headlights and side bezels, 17-inch alloy wheels, power folding side mirrors, and LED daytime running lights and LED tail lights.

Inside, this model will provide a 7-inch color display for audio functions, a 4.2-inch multi-information display, and a rear view camera. Furthermore, eight airbags, including a driver’s knee air bag and a front passenger seat cushion airbag are standard.

Under the hood is a familiar 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine making 137 horsepower. This engine will come paired with a gearless continuously variable automatic transmission that can be operated in manual mode, with seven “steps” mimicking gear points. A six-speed manual transmission will also be available.

Second Chance Scion

With two new models on deck, Toyota is breathing new life into Scion. Just as easily, the automaker could have cut its losses and moved on, but apparently it sees much potential in a brand that sold more than 170,000 units in its peak year, 2006. Sales last year came in at 58,009 units, down more than 15 percent in a market that registered a 5.9 percent increase for the year.

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Photos Courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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