When Toyota decided to quietly drop its Scion line of vehicles there was some disappointment among buyers who thought the offshoot had some very worthwhile models in its range. Thankfully, two Scions have been subtly transferred to the Toyota range including what are now the 86 coupe and the iM hatchback, which will now be known as the Toyota Corolla iM. Since Toyota didn’t have a hatchback Corolla in this market, the Scion fit the bill perfectly. It’s worth remembering that Scion was far from being a complete failure and the range posted many achievements. Most automakers like to think they have good penetration into the youth market but Scion beat all competitors and the cars had the youngest buyer demographic in the entire North American industry. We should also remember that Scions were always built by Toyota to the same standards of reliability and quality as any other product from the brand.
The Corolla iM is a medium-sized four-door hatchback and can be compared with rivals like the VW Golf , Honda Civic Hatch and Hyundai Elantra GT. Cars like this are popular among people who don’t necessarily need a crossover or an SUV, but find sedans don’t have quite the cargo room they need. The Corolla iM becomes almost wagon-like when you fold down the rear seatbacks and the big hatchback gives outstanding access, even for quite large and bulky loads.
The iM is very nicely styled and has a great stance with its wedge-profile bodywork, clean lines and contemporary looking front end. The nose has black honeycomb grilles above and below the bumper line that look very sporty and also admit lots of cooling air to the engine compartment. My test car was equipped with 17-inch cast aluminum wheels and low-profile tires, which added to the sporty ambiance. Glass areas are generous and visibility from the driver’s seat is exceptional. As with any Toyota, there’s no faulting the high level of panel fit and finish.
The iM is powered by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels. My car came with a six-speed manual transmission which functioned very well indeed with smooth, positive shifts. Toyota builds some of the best manual transmissions in this class and the car is great fun to drive as you can eke out a little more performance with some deft gear changes. There is an automatic available and that’s probably the way most buyers will want it, but those with a leaning towards enthusiastic driving will prefer the manual box. Fuel economy is outstanding for a non-hybrid car.
The car is very well equipped even in basic form and my version had no options added at all. It didn’t seem to need any either. You get air conditioning, electric power steering, a decent sound system, steering wheel controls, a 7-inch touch display screen with voice control, anti-lock disc brakes all round and one of the easiest hands-free mobile phone hookups in the business. Following the maker’s Toyota Safety Sense technology, there are multiple air bags and stability control systems. Toyota Roadside Assistance is included in the reasonable sticker price and the warranty is three years or 60,000 km.
It’s great to see a hatchback Corolla in the market and for many buyers; this will be the best choice in the range. Nicely built and enjoyable to drive, the iM is a welcome addition to the best selling model in this class on the world market.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Four-door, five-seat hatchback
ENGINE: 1.8-litre, four-cylinder
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual (auto available)
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 9-secs
FUEL ECONOMY: 8.3-litres/100 km city; 6.5-litres/100 km hwy.
PRICE: Base MSRP $22,540