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Actual rating will vary with options, driving conditions, habits and vehicle condition.
The standard features of the Scion iA Base include 1.5L I-4 106hp engine, 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), side seat mounted airbags, curtain 1st and 2nd row overhead airbags, airbag occupancy sensor, air conditioning, 16" aluminum wheels, cruise control, ABS and driveline traction control, electronic stability.
Starting at: $15,700
Some of Mazda’s mission from Scion was to make the iA feel sporty. That mission was limited by cost, however, stuck with the basic suspension of MacPherson struts in front and torsion beam in rear, with drum brakes. But if anyone can make such a car fun to drive it’s Mazda, and they have.
The iA feels lively and light, with only 2400 pounds to toss around on 16-inch alloy wheels. The handling is athletic, and the electric power steering feels good.
The composed ride makes the iA feel like a bigger and more expensive car. Even over bumps at higher speeds, it’s smooth.
The acceleration from a standing start sure won’t knock your socks off, but it gets better as it goes (with only 2400 pounds to carry).
The 6-speed automatic has a sport mode that does a good job of keeping rpm at 4000 for spirited driving. Too bad the digital tachometer is small and gimmicky, almost unreadable with a gray display at the edges.
The 6-speed manual gearbox is delightful, with short throws and precise shifts. However, only 10 percent of buyers will go out of their way to choose it, and fuel economy is lower.
With Mazda as a partner for this car, it’s no surprise the Scion iA looks like a Mazda, with a bold trapezoidal grille and blacked-out front fascia that sweeps out and down. It also looks like a small version of the Kia Forte. The nose might be the most aggressive of any subcompact. The headlamps and taillights look more Scion, while the chrome and black piano trim looks trendy.
The profile, too, looks Mazda-like. The sculpted fenders flow in arcs over the wheels to the rear end, which brings the trapezoid shape back.
Inside, the Scion looks more like a Mercedes-Benz, with circular vents and an upright touchscreen like in the CLA-Class. Overall, the narrow cabin feels more like a cockpit than other subcompacts, and is definitely posh for such a low-cost car, with good fit and finish, and soft-touch trim. However, the upholstery material looks cheap.
Tall drivers benefit from a driver’s seat that adjusts up and down and slides forward and back a full 10 inches.
No surprise, the back seat is cramped for two adults, though there are three seatbelts. The good news in back is that the flat-folding rear seat opens to a large trunk.
It’s hard to go wrong with the iA for the price of less than $17,000. Great powertrain, four doors, fun handling, and generous standard equipment.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. Sam Moses contributed to this report.
The 2016 Scion iA is available with manual transmission ($15,700) or automatic ($16,800) with the automatic. It is well equipped, with air conditioning, keyless entry, push-button start, tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, power mirrors, seven-inch touch-screen, six-speaker sound system with music streaming, steering-wheel controls, voice recognition for audio and phone, Bluetooth, USB port, compatibility with Aha, Pandora, and Stitcher, and a 60/40 rear seat that folds flat.
Scion dealers offer many custom and personalization features.