You know, Toyota had a tough year back in 2011. Recalls and bad publicity all around had tarnished the brand in some eyes. But they have recovered, and I doubt many folks even remember what is known in the company as the year it all went wrong.
But one thing that had been working since 2002 was their Scion brand. Aimed at the young buyer, it flourished for years.
Scion means a young heir to the family name and fortune. But that Scion has now been disinherited.
Another reality of the marketplace has sunk in. Like Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Mercury, Saturn, Plymouth, and a host of others, Scion is soon to be history. Very soon.
But never fear, the cars, all three of them, including the lovely little hatchback iM model we drove this week, will survive. They’ll just be called Toyotas, as they are everywhere else in the world. And yes, that includes the gorgeous, fun and tres cool little FRS two-seat sports car.
But our focus right now is on the new iM, which is essentially a Toyota Corolla in a much snappier suit of clothes.
The iM shares the platform of the Corolla, albeit with a better rear suspension. It also shares the 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with a relatively paltry 137 horsepower, and I think some of the lukewarm reviews it’s getting stem from a misunderstanding of this car’s place in the food chain. It is an attractive, sporty, quick, nice handling little sedan with lots of standard equipment and a multi-speaker Pioneer tinnitus generator.
Inside is…well…lot’s of plastic, but in Toyota’s defense, it’s first rate plastic which isn’t as easy as it sounds. The back seat is just roomy enough to keep claustrophobics from clawing at the sunroof to escape, and on the road this little car is just a blast. OK, 0-60 miles per hour takes about 8.5 seconds, but it feels much quicker.
And though the 1.8-liter mill won’t frighten any Camaros, it won’t embarrass you either, if you opt for the 6-speed manual gearbox. The optional CVT automatic will now doubt turn it into a sleek, school transport module.
The mileage won’t disappoint either, with the stick-shift model covering 27 miles per gallon in the city, 36 on the highway.
But getting all this, plus Toyota quality and resale for just under $20,000 is a feat in and of itself, and a reminder of why we all came to love them in the first place.