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2016 Scion iA Test Drive

2016 Scion iA

The 2016 Scion iA is manufactured in Mexico with Toyota and Mazda’s consolidated efforts. While its design very much resembles the Mazda 2 model, are there other similarities to the Japanese auto? The Scion iA test drive will show.


The iA’s exterior is bold – it got a rather aggressive front with cutting lines, chrome trim, and a massive trapezoidal grille where lower and upper air intakes are placed. If to take a side view, it becomes obvious how much it relates to the 2016 Mazda 2 hatchback (in particular, the fenders converting into the arcs above the wheels). However, at the back, the influence of the Mazda 2 is less distinguished – the taillights are peculiar to Scion.

The iA uses the same 101.2-in wheelbase as the Mazda 2. However, it’s nearly a foot longer (171.7 in) than the car it’s compared to.


The only element that reminds us that we’re in the iA, not in the Mazda 2, is the Scion badge on the steering wheel. Everything else is squeezed into compact dimensions of the new car.

Paradoxically enough, copied design is the Scion’s characteristic feature that makes it look somewhat inconsistent with other Scions, with the new iM included. It means that high-quality materials and simple layout found in the Mazda 2 as well as the same colours and fonts are here. The iA also adopted its gauge cluster, 7-inch infotainment screen, iDrive control dial, etc.

Generally speaking, the cabin is comfortable. There’s plenty head- and legroom in the front. However, space in the back may seem cramped for tall passengers. Although there are 3 seatbelts there, really just 2 adults can be accommodated in the back.

A boot in the iA is spacious – 13 cubic feet – with the rear seats able to fold with a 60/40 split.

Driving Performance

The Scion iA’s mechanical part also shares some elements with the Mazda 2. An engine is among them. The Scion iA is powered by a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder 106 hp naturally aspirated SkyActiv engine that produces 103 lb-ft of torque. Those interested in purchasing the iA can choose from two types of gear boxes – 6-speed manual (standard) and 6-speed automatic with a Sport mode.

It may be a bit difficult and slow to accelerate the iA from a stop but as soon as you’re on your way, everything’s fine. It’s easy to control and goes very smoothly mitigating potholes. However, its tachometer appears to be useless as revs showed in grey on the grey background are impossible to read. Besides, it’s very small.

During the Scion iA test drive on the canyon roads not far from Malibu, CA, the car’s pretty poor uphill acceleration surprised us but in a city it performed perfectly well (its high technical specifications were fully justified).

Another feature that couldn’t be left unnoticed is the fact that the new iA isn’t a Mazda when it comes to turns. Surely, the steering is nice but it could be better like in the Mazda CX-3, for example. So far, the Scion’s undesirable body roll is felt.

Buyers cannot choose optional features they’d like to have in their iA except for transmission type and colour. The Scion iA is equipped with tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth, power windows, keyless entry, rear-view camera, and push-button start. Also, there are 7-in touchscreen, two USB ports, navigation system, the Scion Service Boost, etc.

The Verdict

The fact that the iA is analogous to the Mazda 2 is its disadvantage and advantage at the same time: the new auto didn’t just adopt the Mazda’s merits but flaws as well instead of making an attempt to surprise potential clients with some unique features other automakers would like to copy.

The Scion iA seems to be more expensive than it really is. Its interior and exterior are beautifully done. However, there’s little space for rear-seat passengers. Steering control could be better as well as acceleration. Still, the car’s on-road qualities are nice.

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