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On the road with Scion's 2016 iA and iM (photos)

We take to the Santa Cruz mountains in the two newest models in Scion's lineup.

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Antuan Goodwin
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1 of 40 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

2016 Scion iA

The 2016 Scion iA is the first sedan to wear the Scion badge. Starting at $15,700, it will also be one of the least expensive.

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2016 Scion iA

It's no secret that behind that Scion badge is a car that was designed and built by Mazda.

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2016 Scion iA

The iA separates itself from the Mazda2 upon which it is based with a Toyota designed front fascia and headlamp treatment.

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2016 Scion iA

This is a face that only a mother could love, but for now it's the only way to experience the 2016 Mazda2's performance in the US.

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2016 Scion iA

Under the hood, you'll find a 106 horsepower 1.5-liter engine.

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2016 Scion iA

The owner will have to choose between an automatic or a manual transmission. Both feature six speeds.

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2016 Scion iA

The iA rides on a MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear axle.

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2016 Scion iA

On the road, the iA is poised to be one of the best handling cars in its class.

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2016 Scion iA

Standard 16-inch wheels fill the iA's wells.

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2016 Scion iA

The cabin is identical to that of the Mazda2, save a few badge swaps.

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2016 Scion iA

The iA's instrument cluster features a large analog speedometer flanked by smaller digital gauges.

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2016 Scion iA

The tiny tachometer can be hard to see.

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2016 Scion iA

Push button start and smart keyless entry are standard features.

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2016 Scion iA

Infotainment is a sanitized version of Mazda Connect.

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2016 Scion iA

The 7-inch screen is touch sensitive, but when the vehicle is in motion this physical bank is where infotainment control resides.

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2016 Scion iA

The iA features a pair of USB ports, which makes up for its lack of a CD drive.

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2016 Scion iA

Map data is stored on an SD card.

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2016 Scion iA

The system is easy enough to navigate and more intuitive than Scion's own BeSpoke system.

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2016 Scion iA

However, the non-standard screen placement means that the iA won't be as easily modified as the rest of Scion's lineup.

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2016 Scion iM

The Scion iM is a world market import and another badge engineering job.

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2016 Scion iM

In this case, the Scion is based on Toyota's own Auris hatchback.

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2016 Scion iM

17-inch wheels are shod in 225mm wide tires.

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2016 Scion iM

The iM also features a unique suspension tune and sport body kit to stand apart from its Euro-twin.

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2016 Scion iM

This example has also been augmented with TRD lowering springs and anti-sway bars.

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2016 Scion iM

Under the hood is Toyota's 1.8-liter engine that outputs 137 horsepower.

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26 of 40 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

2016 Scion iM

This engine is an older design that uses port injection.

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2016 Scion iM

A TRD oil cap doesn't add any performance, but looks pretty neat.

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2016 Scion iM

I was disappointed to see that the TRD intake is merely an improved air filter in the stock airbox.

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29 of 40 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

2016 Scion iM

Another disappointment was the six-speed manual transmission, which featured a ridiculously long throw on the shifter.

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30 of 40 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

2016 Scion iM

I wasn't able to test the optional continuously variable transmission, but I suspect that this more efficient transaxle is the best choice for iM owners.

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31 of 40 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

2016 Scion iM

Scion is aiming the iM at younger drivers who want the utility of a hatchback.

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2016 Scion iM

Though spacious, the iM isn't much longer from nose to tail than the compact iA.

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2016 Scion iM

The cabin was very quiet at cruising speeds; the fit and finish were also nice.

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2016 Scion iM

Instrumentation is a simple bi-gauge setup with the automaker's first 4.2-inch color MID.

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2016 Scion iM

Display audio is standard and features HD Radio and Aha app connectivity. The optional BeSpoke upgrade adds navigation.

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2016 Scion iM

The iM was a competent driver, but I think the iA is definitely the more fun of the two.

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2016 Scion iM

A rear camera is standard safety tech.

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2016 Scion iM

The 2016 Scion iM starts at $18,460 for the manually shifted model.

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2016 Scion iM

With the iA and iM, Scion is using its mono-spec approach. The only options given to the buyer are color and gearbox.

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40 of 40 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

2016 Scion iM

The automaker will also be offering an array of dealer installed options and accessories, such as the TRD upgrades.

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