Automobiles

Scion's latest concept looks awfully familiar

The new Scion iM Concept hints that the automaker is preparing to bring the European Toyota Auris hatchback to the North American market.

Scion/Toyota

Scion has unveiled its latest concept car early. The iM Concept, which was due to bow at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, is essentially a rebadged and glitzed-up version of the Toyota Auris hatchback, a model that has been available in European and global markets since 2012.

If the Auris' spec sheet is any indicator, the iM is a five-door compact wagon that will most likely be powered by the same 132-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-banger that you can find under the hood of the familiar Toyota Corolla. This isn't an engine that's known for its pulse-racing performance. Then again, there's always the small chance that Toyota will fit the iM with the tC's more potent 179-horsepower, 2.5-liter engine...a very small chance.

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The iM Concept is based on the Auris which, in turn, is based on the familiar Corolla. Scion/Toyota

The Auris also shares the Corolla's platform and underpinnings, but the iM concept has been augmented with wide-body aerodynamics and a lowered ride height made possible by a height-adjustable race suspension. The wheel arches are filled with 19-inch forged alloy wheels. Vented front brake rotors gripped by four-piston calipers peek from behind the wheel spokes. The compact was fitted with more aggressive front and rear fascias that feature deep air intakes, LED fog lights, and race-inspired styling, then the entire exterior was sprayed with custom-blended "Incrediblue" paint.

"The iM Concept combines sleek styling with the versatility of a modern hatchback to catch the eye of Scion customers," said Scion Vice President Doug Murtha, adding that we should "stay tuned for more on how we will bring this vision to the road."

The most obvious explanation for going to the trouble of building and showcasing the iM Concept is that Toyota is planning on bringing the European hatchback, wearing a Scion badge, to the North American market soon, where it could fill the compact wagon-shaped gap in Toyota's lineup left by last year's departure of the five-door Matrix from the US market.

We'll get our first look at the iM Concept and hopefully hear more about the automaker's plans when the concept debuts in the sheet metal next week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.