In our test drives this week, we got our first stint behind the wheel of the all-new 2016 Scion iA sedan.
It’s a car that represents a number of firsts for the brand and offers more than than meets the eye.
First of all, lets deal with the elephant in the room. Not only is this the first four-door sedan Toyota’s youth brand has offered, but it’s not a Toyota at all. It’s actually a Mazda2 re-badged as a Scion, with only a unique fascia up front to really make it different.
But this is not a bad thing. After all, the previous generation Mazda2 was widely acclaimed for its driving character, its quality and its value. It just for some reason didn’t sell well enough here for Mazda to continue offering it.
Enter Scion who needed a new model, and we have the iA. It comes in the brand’s mono-spec trim which means one way, mildly equipped for a reasonable price. Here that means a sedan which stickered at $16,495.
And at that price it was far more than a stripped down tin can. It had a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with all the connectivity options available today, push button start, and nicely trimmed seats.
The interior is clearly Mazda, but again that’s not a bad thing at all. It was comfortable and of a reasonable quality in build. It feels compact because it is, but not cramped. And rear trunk space is commendable for its size.
Driving the Scion iA showed it has adequate power from its 1.5 liter four-cylinder engine. Our six-speed manual transmission had excellent shifter behavior and clutch take up. It was in fact one of the best we’ve tested this year from any brand.
Fuel economy was good too. It’s rated at 31 mpg city, 41 mpg highway, and 35 mpg combined. But in my week with it, I easily achieved 38 mpg combined when following its dash board up-shift indicator mostly to the letter.
Handling? Not bad either for this class. It’s got Zoom Zoom after all courtesy of Mazda. It’s no sports car but does offer a level of feel and precision that it wouldn’t have if Scion would have re-badged a Toyota Yaris.
Which brings us to my takeaway here. We don’t see re-badged cars from one brand to the other much these days. But the Scion iA a.k.a. Mazda2, is actually a decent daily drive once you get past that little detail.