- Exceptional value
- Enjoyable manual transmission
- Refined road manners
- Upscale features and interior design
- Massive, usable trunk
- Sluggish accleration off the line with either transmission
- Some cheap-looking upholstery
- Somewhat cramped rear seat
- No available sunroof
The 2016 Scion iA isn't fast or particularly roomy, but it delivers a great blend of features and performance for a remarkable subcompact price.
The 2016 Scion iA is a generously sized subcompact, and prefaces two other small cars with which it will be closely related: new versions of the Mazda 2 and Toyota Yaris due within a year.
For Toyota’s youth-oriented brand, Scion, the iA is the badge’s first four-door sedan.
The iA has familiar proportions that look a lot like other cars in its class—unavoidable, maybe, in a car so small. It's easy to see Mazda's design influence in its sculpted sheet metal, especially in a profile that bears a strong resemblance to the Mazda 3. Front and rear lamps have a stronger Scion flavor, and the aggressive nose with a massive trapezoid containing the grille and blacked-out bumper lend a sporty appearance. Chrome trim is joined by trendy piano black treatments.
The interior, meanwhile, is more cockpit-like than other cars in its class, with circular vents and an upright touchscreen that gives its dashboard the look of a Mercedes-Benz CLA. The multimedia system uses a control knob sourced directly from Mazda.
The 2016 iA is powered by a Mazda 1.5-liter inline-4 engine making 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. It’s a different engine than the one in the current Toyota Yaris, and it combines direct injection with a high 12.0:1 compression ratio. It's linked to a standard 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 6-speed automatic.
The iA only weighs around 2,400 pounds, which makes it one of the lightest sedans in this class; and the new, stronger structure help bring a good combination of safety, ride quality, and handling. The layout of the iA, with a front strut and rear torsion-beam suspension, and rear drum brakes, calls out that this isn’t intended as a particularly sporty model; but with Mazda engineering has nevertheless given the car a sporty fun-to-drive flavor. Acceleration is sluggish from stoplights, but it's reasonably accommodating at mid-range speeds.
The Scion iA is sized very closely to the sedan versions of the Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Kia Rio, and Nissan Versa, among others. The overall length for the iA is about 172 inches, with a width of 66.7 inches, height of 58.5 inches, and it’s built on a 101.2-inch wheelbase—the same as the new Mazda CX-3 and upcoming Mazda 2, which likely won't be sold in the U.S.
The back seat can be cramped for adults, but the situation is better for the driver, who has a height-adjustable seat. The split-folding (60/40) rear seatbacks fold flat, and connects to a generously sized trunk. Front seats adjust fore and aft ten inches. All iA models include steering-wheel controls and voice recognition for audio and phone functions.
Safety equipment in the iA includes a full roster of airbags, including front and rear side-curtain bags, and a low-speed forward collision warning system uses a laser sensor to warn the driver of potential collisions. All iA models also include a rearview camera. Since this is an all-new model (and structure), it may be some time before we see a complete set of crash-test ratings for the iA.
The IIHS has deemed the iA a Top Safety Pick+ in its testing. Federal officials haven't yet released data from their testing.
Pricing is highly competitive, and the mono-spec iA will cost $15,700 with the manual transmission and $16,800 with the automatic. That’s for a very well-equipped model, not a stripped-down price leader. Standard features include air conditioning, keyless ignition, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, and power mirrors. The base audio setup is a 7.0-inch touchscreen Display Audio system with six speakers, Bluetooth hands-free calling and music-streaming capability, USB and analog-input ports, and streaming-app compatibility with Aha, Pandora, and Stitcher services.
Customization and personalization options—in lieu of options—have been a part of the Scion purchase experience from the start. And you can be sure there will be plenty of appearance add-ons, as well as perhaps some performance upgrades, on offer.
Fuel economy is good, but perhaps not as good as it should be. EPA fuel economy is rated at 31 mpg city, 41 highway, 35 combined for the manual version, and 33/42/37 mpg with the automatic.
By comparison, the Ford Fiesta's best ratings for a special 3-cylinder version hit 43 mpg highway; the Chevy Sonic tops out at 40 mpg highway for its most efficient version.