After ending a period of stagnation with the sporty FR-S coupe, Scion is looking to recapture its momentum among young, often first time car buyers with the new 2016 Scion iM. A sporty, stubby four door hatchback, the iM specialties standout styling and a suspension design that might make it among the best-handling cars in its class.

Scion-iM

Cruising down Pacific Coast Highway in a pre-production prototype automobile, you would think we’d get at least one knowing look. But we do not. Here we are in a major hotbed of automobile culture.

What’s New In Scion iM?

The iM’s story of meh starts with the styling. Scion did little to dress up the overwhelmingly trapezoidal Auris beyond adding a body kit, directional 17-inch wheels, and a bright exhaust tip. Granted, the result doesn’t hurt the eyes, but from an identity standpoint there is little for the observer to hold close. The all-black interior, however, is rather more enticing, yet it still fails to rise much higher than midpack in terms of design and accouterments.

Like other Scions, the iM comes ‘mono-spec’ the only choices you make involve exterior color and transmission and includes a fairly comprehensive amount of equipment, most of which we illuminated when we covered the iM’s launch at the 2015 New York auto show.

Unique Charactertistics

A recent concept edition of the 2016 Scion iM showed handsome graphite-colored 19-inch wheels, an aerodynamic body kit and all manner of curvy grilles and LED-accented air vents front and rear. Some of these will undoubtedly end up in Scion dealer’s accessory department, but the production model should feature a more subdued appearance.

The concept iM displayed another unique feature: a height-adjustable suspension with an independent rear multi-link design. If this makes it to production, it could make the iM one of the more athletic and responsive cars in its class.

Assessment

Perhaps this car’s greatest attribute is its value, which, at the price of $19,255 for the manual and $19,995 for the automatic, will make good on Scion’s promise of a sub-$20K MSRP when it arrives in Scion dealerships along with the Mazda 2–based iA this fall. Adding the navigation kit for an estimated $900 and the TRD bits, we still estimate that an iM with the manual would cost less than $23,000, or roughly the starting price of a four-door VW Golf.

We only wish it were a bit more interesting to look at and to drive, because if Scion is going to survive, it needs a following. And at first blush, the iM does not seem good enough to build one.

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