The Scion iA and its sibling, the iM, are new vehicles for 2016. The iA is a sporty entry level sedan; the iM is a five-door hatchback. The duo is manufactured to appeal to millennials.

But there’s a surprise for consumers in the sub-compact market. Scion models are usually the less expensive offerings from parent company Toyota. The iA is actually a rebadged Mazda2. It’s offered in the United States since the Mazda2 isn’t.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

The Scion iA is a four-cylinder, 106 horsepower four-door subcompact with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. My weekly driver was the manual transmission option.

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Like its sibling, the iA has a substantial standard features list: 16-inch alloy wheels, turn-signal repeaters in the side mirrors, a low-speed forward-collision warning system, cruise control, air conditioning, keyless entry, push-button ignition, a backup camera, and Mazda’s 7-inch infotainment system screen.

The 2016 Scion iA is a new car in the sub-compact class.
The 2016 Scion iA is a new car in the sub-compact class. All images © James Raia/21015

As a sub-compact, the iA also has substantial interior space. I’m 6-feet tall and weigh 195 pounds. As a front-seat passenger, I was comfortable and had plenty of headroom and legroom. As  iA driver, I had no blind-spot issues and the seating was easily adjustable and comfortable.

The navigation system worked intuitively. The iA navigation screen looks like it’s retractable, but it’s not. It’s permanently affixed as an extension on the upper dash.

The ride quality is surprising. There’s a hint of sportiness, but it also periodically feels underpowered on steep grades. The exterior is edgy with sharp angles and an array of standard and bright color options like spring green metallic and electric storm blue.

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Perhaps the biggest surprise about the iA is that it’s so quiet. It’s superior to many vehicles more than the twice the price and boasting of quiet rides. The Scion iA’s top competitors include the Honda Fit (far larger cargo area), Ford Fiesta (far more performance) and the Nissan Versa (far less expensive). But the iA is the quietest compact I’ve driven.

My only concern about the iA is the oddly shaped front grille. It looks like a pouting fish.

Likes:

Strong value.
Engaging handling.
Refined interior for the class.
Superior fuel economy.

Dislikes:

Small rear passenger space.
The name iA. No one seems to know what it means.
Design of the front grille.

Facts & Figures: 2016 Scion iA

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 8.9 seconds.
Airbags: 6.
Fuel economy: 31 mpg (city), 41 mpg (highway), 35 mpg (combined).
Horsepower: 106.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $15,700.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.scion.com.
Price As Tested: $16,470.00.
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles.

What Others Say:

“The Scion iA has daring looks and a long list of amenities that make it hard to call it basic transportation.” — Car and Driver.

“Because Mazda has announced that it won’t be selling a Mazda-badged Mazda2 in the U.S. market anytime soon — and, as I recently learned, the iA is such a fantastic little car — I’ll welcome it wearing any badge it can.” — CNET.

“Scion is making its way back to significance in the U.S. market with this car, one that deserves strong consideration by buyers.” — Boston.com.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“The 2016 Scion iA may not find a niche in a marketplace stuffed with respectable and mass-selling choices from most manufacturers. But if value, a substantial list of standard features and superior gas mileage is important, the sub-compact is a worthy new choice.”

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