Scion iA — All new and with a touch of Mazda

By David Finkelstein

It was some 12-years ago when Toyota Motors launched its Scion automotive line in the United States. Its business model was to offer personal-sized vehicles, aimed at a select customer base that included first time buyers and younger motorists. The major difference with the Scion offered at Toyota dealerships was the dealer installed “post assembly add-ons” for personalizing the customer's beloved means of transportation, regardless of model.

Cars would arrive stateside-all pretty much equipped the same from the factory with the exception of body colors and transmission choices. From there, the dealer network would get busy making "your Scion" as unique as possible with back-room/bolt on goodies.

This business direction of course even continues today. As a matter of fact, when ordering the all new 2016 Scion iA four door, front-wheel-drive sedan, the car can only be requested with a choice of the outer body color and the choice of a six speed manual gear box or a six speed automatic.

The compact iA competes in this class of automobiles with the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa and the Chevrolet Sonic. Also worth bringing to your attention is the simple fact that iA is jointly engineered, developed and manufactured in conjunction with Mazda Motors at their assembly facility in Mexico.

The vehicle has a front end design that clearly resembles a new Camry, but in miniature! iA also has multi-reflector halogen headlights coupled with daytime running lights, chrome elements that surround the front grille, and an attractive hexagon lower grille assembly with a piano black front bumper.The iA is bold in appearance while having a fairly elongated hood, a short rear deck assembly and sculpted body side stampings with a distinctive character about it.

The iA has a modern-looking swept-back A-pillar body post design positioned at the windshields frame for helping the car stand out. Body contours continue this theme into the rear combination lamps and trunk area of which I might add, have the rear tail lamps integrated into the trunk lid cover itself. The exhaust outlets are chrome tipped.

The Scion iA features quality interior materials through out. Although it's designed to seat five, back-seat comfort room may be somewhat compromised for full-size adults. 60/40 split fold-flat rear seats are also included. From the drivers seated position, there is plenty of unobstructed viewing of the road and surroundings, the dash assembly is easy to understand and its layout is simplistic. But right out of the Mazda design play-book, the standard ignition start button is completely obstructed by the wiper control stock, the same problematic issue with the Mazda CX-5 SUV.

The glove box is fairly large for stowing your things but when it opens, it doesn't have any damping system, therefore if you aren't cautious, it will smack the front seat passenger on their knees!

The cars performance is quite spirited for it's small 1.5L DOHC direct injected 4-cylinder, 16-valve engine thats rated at 106-horsepower. The EPA numbers are 33-mpg city and 42-mpg highway with the automatic transmission. When equipped with the manual gear box, expect 31 mpg city and 41 mpg highway, slightly less fuel efficient than with the automatic. This is do-in-part to the cars throttle mapping and other variables such as transmission gearing.

The sedan delivers sporty handling, precise, responsive steering and a progressive positive braking feel when cornering. There are disc brakes in the front and conventional drum brakes on the rear. A partial list of standard equipment includes 16-inch tires and wheels, low-speed pre-collision breaking system and a rear view backup camera with a combination 7-inch display screen that also shows the audio system.

Its touchscreen design has a remote interface with voice recognition. Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio is included at no extra charge as well as Aha, Stitcher and Pandora connected services providing music streaming and access to thousands of radio broadcasts, Internet radio stations and podcasts.

Six speakers and steering wheel mounted audio controls plus keyless entry and cruise control are also included as well as power windows and door locks and two-tone seats.

All models also come with a no-cost, two-year/25,000-mile maintenance plan and 24–hour Roadside Assistance. The base MSRP is $15,700 when equipped with the 6-speed manual. That doesn't include the posted $795 necessary for dealer shipping and destination charges. The factory's policy is for “no haggle pricing” to further streamline the buying experience.

The new iA for 2016 clearly offers up a lot of value for the MSRP. Plan to see it at Scion dealerships nationwide in September. Keep in mind though, only some 80 percent of Toyota dealerships handle Scion automobiles.