We tested both the 6-speed automatic and now the 6-speed manual gearbox Scion iA compact sedans – and we found out quickly which one is higher on the fun-to-drive meter. The difference between the two is more than driving dynamics and also comes down to fuel mileage and price. Recently, we have been driving the 2016 Scion iA 4-Door Sedan with a 6-speed manual gearbox.
We also drove the new Scion iM models and we’ll tell you which one is our favorite out of everything.
The 2016 Scion iA is an all-new vehicle. As we stated earlier this year when driving the automatic iA: “Toyota partnered with Mazda to bring out this new subcompact sedan, targeting a younger generation of buyers. It looks like they hit the mark.”
Features & Options
Our 2016 Scion iA tester came with the 6-speed manual transmission ($15,700) and is well equipped for a subcompact car. It features keyless entry, push-button start, tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, power mirrors, seven-inch touch-screen, and six-speaker sound system with music streaming. It also comes with steering-wheel controls, voice recognition for audio and phone, Bluetooth, USB port, plus compatibility with Aha, Pandora, and Stitcher. A 60/40 fold flat rear seat was also included.
MSRP: $16,470 including destination.
We were impressed the moment we stepped into the Scion iA’s cabin. The upright touchscreen and circular vents come right from the page of a Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. It’s unusual to find this kind of material quality and fit and finish in a subcompact, costing less than $17,000. There’s lots of soft touch materials used throughout and the infotainment system features the kind of connectivity a high-tech generation wants.
The 7-inch touch-screen sits on the dash. It caught and kept our attention with its easy to read display. Room up front is typical for a subcompact and rear passengers will feel a bit cramped on longer jaunts around town. For cargo, the rear seats do fold flat and open up to the sedan’s trunk.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The new Scion iA is powered by a 1.5-liter engine producing an ample 106 horsepower and 103 pound-feet of torque. The iA engine comes from Mazda, using direct injection with a high 12:1 compression ratio. The four-cylinder powerplant is tuned for fuel efficiency and achieves an EPA-estimated 31/41 city/highway mpg and 35 combined with the 6-speed manual gearbox.
The 6-speed automatic gets better fuel mileage at 33/42 city/highway mpg and 37 combined.
The automatic wins the fuel economy contest.
There’s a lot to like about the Scion iA sedan with the manual gearbox. It’s a driver’s car from the start and offers plenty of fun for driving enthusiasts. We had the car during a winter snow storm in Denver and the heavy, wet snow was more than the front drive sedan could handle. Unfortunately, we parked the car and had limited seat time with the manual iA.
Before the blizzard, however, the Scion iA carved the dry mountain curves with ease and little body lean. The manual gearbox is a joy to shift with crisp changes up and down in the gears. The 6-speed manual is more fun-to-drive than the automatic by a mile!
On the open road, we had to downshift into fifth on the mountain hills as 6th gear is tall and more of an overdrive. It was easy to find the right gear as we motored through the city streets before the snowstorm. Handling is sporty and the suspension is just right with MacPherson struts in front and torsion beam in the rear.
If you want a more engaging driving experience we like the Scion iA manual by far. For fuel mileage and city commuting in traffic, the Scion iA automatic is the way to go. Our personal preference would be to sacrifice one or two mpg and go with the sportier driving machine, the 6-speed manual. It’s fun-to-drive, offers a more engaging driving experience and it still gets excellent fuel mileage overall.
The iA automatic does run about $1100 more which is another reason to chose the manual shifter. Not everyone likes to shift and that’s why Scion offers the automatic, and it’s more fuel efficient. It’s a good alternative.
We also test drove the new Scion iM 5-door hatchback automatic and 6-speed manual models. Which would we choose out of the four models? We like the iM manual because of its sporty driving dynamics and the utility of the 5-door hatch.
It’s our pick of the four models.
*Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy