Over the years we’ve seen a lot of collaborations between various car manufacturers. Some result in products and shared technology while others didn’t. Ones that did usually result with engines or underpinnings used by both companies while others in entire vehicles. We’ve seen the likes of the Subaru, the creation of which spawned the Saab 9-2X. Then, very recently we saw the Toyota GT-86 platform, which was essentially a car developed with Subaru. Subaru’s car was dubbed the BR-Z (essentially almost the same car), and even Scion got a piece of the action with the Scion FR-S model. Obviously, most of them were sold in different markets but even so, we got to see marketing at its finest.
Back at the 2015 New York Auto Show we had a chance to see the 2016 Scion iA. A vehicle which is a Mazda 2 or a Mazda Demio depending on where you’re located. It’s Scion’s very first sedan and for those who don’t know it is Toyota’s very own child, essentially a company launched by them targeting much younger audience. Scion has great expectations from the iA, which along with the new iM is planning to take a decent chunk of the market in their respective segments.
Despite the fact that it’s a Mazda underneath, meaning great handling and lots of agility, Scion have been allowed to roam free regarding styling. They decided to make the iA a lot more energetic than what we are getting from the Mazda, as a sign of their much younger target audience. Now if we’re completely honest, the front of the iA isn’t good looking. Not even a little bit. It is original and unique, not just to the Mazda counterpart but to the competition too. But pretty? No.
The large grille opening looks like the mouth of the fish and the relatively low positioned headlights which do look like a fish eyes don’t help either. The front fascia looks like a mean fish, and not in a right way. The more you look at it, the more you see what we’re talking about. It’s one of those situations where the designers didn’t have a chance to stand back further and say: “Well, time to have a rethink.”
Credits, where credits are due, the photos, don’t do it justice. It’s not as bad looking in real life since you will mostly be looking at it from a higher point of view, a view where that appearance disappears but still, not exactly a looker.
The sidelines and arches, however, are distinctly Mazda. The character lines swoop up on the quarter panels just like they do on the Mazda 3 and the Mazda 6. The rear is slightly more Mazda than the front, but Scion has added their touch. The taillights have a clear housing and character lines that meet below the cutout for the license plate. Just like most Mazda’s (although it’s a Scion we know), it lacks spoilers and diffusers. The same can’t be said for the iM.
2016 Scion IA Interior Design
The interior is, well, Mazda. It’s unchanged, and that’s a good thing. If there’s anything Mazda are good at, besides reliability and engines, it is interiors. The Mazda 2 has a great cabin, with lots of styling features and interestingly designed lines, most notably on the dashboard and center console. It manages to look different and modern without being too controversial or differentiating from the expected standards for a small city car.
The dashboard is especially interesting with its three distinct segments. You have the driver’s area with the instrument cluster and the controls, the center stack with the main controls and the entire infotainment system, and lastly the smooth flat surface spanning in front of the front seat passenger. There’s a nice chrome accent, but that’s as glitzy as it gets.
The Scion uses the Mazda 2’s engine which is a 1.5-liter four-cylinder Skyactiv unit. Obviously being a Scion, the Skyactiv badging has been erased and in its place sits a Toyota logo. So this is a Mazda engine, seeing use in a Scion with a Toyota logo on it. Talk about confusion and brand is mixing.
It is, however, a really good unit. It develops 106 hp and 103 lb-ft of torque. Using direct fuel injection, a special piston head design, a high compression ratio of 12.0:1 and variable valve timing it’s able to deliver excellent fuel economy. It returns 31 mph in city driving, 41 mph on the highway making it for 35 mpg on the combined run with the manual and 33/42/37 mpg for the auto on city/highway/combined respectively. These are claimed figures so expect them to go down a bit in real world driving.
Despite its relative lack of weight, at just 2,385 pounds, it isn’t fast by any standards. The small economy oriented engine does have a drawback, and that’s speed and power. It’s enough to propel the car along at a decent pace but doesn’t expect it to perform at all. There’s no power when punching it above 40 miles per hour, showing the car’s weaker side. It’s primarily designed to be used in the city, although don’t let us stop you from driving it everywhere. It will more than happily sit at motorway speeds all day long just don’t expect to reach them too fast.
The six-speed manual gearbox works great, and although it’s the choice we would go for, being the driving enthusiasts that we are, most people will opt for the CVT automatic gearbox. In reality, it may be better because of higher mpg figures and non-tedious stop-start traffic but test both out to be sure which one is better for you.
The Scion iA starts at just $15,700 and for that price, it’s hard to fault it in any segment. You get everything you’re paying for and much more. Those drivers that want the automatic transmission will need to add $1,100 to a base price setting it to $16,800. If you’re thinking about getting one make sure to check out the competition first as there are some fierce opponents in this segment.