2016 Scion iA Review: Mazda Builds a Better Toyota/Scion

Discussion in 'General' started by cliff leppke, May 3, 2016.

  1. cliff leppke

    cliff leppke Cliff Leppke

    2016 Scion iA Review: When better Toyotas are built, Mazda will build them
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    Last fall, Toyota’s Scion brand managers crisscrossed the USA telling the public that it revitalized its somnambulant youth-oriented brand. Two new cars and a Weird Right ad campaign represented an offspring primed for resurgence.
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    Since then, Toyota announced it’s dumping the Scion moniker. It argues that today’s youthful buyers are neither afraid of their parents’ Toyota dealers nor Toyota’s vehicles. Next year, Scion products will wear Toyota badges.
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    When Toyota does that, perhaps it will replace the French-made Yaris with the plucky Mazda2-derived iA. Even better, add the iA’s hatchback kin to the mix. In other words, the new iA, built in Mexico by Mazda, is Toyota’s most appealing subcompact.
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    Let us count the iAdvantages: One, the overall noise level is restrained. Yes there’s wind rustle and some road rumble but highway trips do not require passengers to raise their voices. This is progress. Two, steering behavior is nicely weighted and responsive, although the tires lack grip. While there’s some road sense, it doesn’t communicate slippery surfaces well—the norm these days. That said: stability control and anti-lock brakes did their jobs well. I trekked through a Midwestern snowstorm with confidence. Prompt reaction to steering input plus good directional stability even on rough roads means it’s iAthletic.
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    Three, the front seat bottoms could be longer, but seat room and comfort are good—better up front than the Honda Fit. Adequate rear-seat legroom requires cooperative front occupant. Four, Mazda’s rotary knob-control infotainment system is pleasant to operate; there’s a rubbery palm pad that helps you locate the smaller console-mounted volume control or the larger mode-selector knob. You can twist, tap or bump this big knob to select items on the info screen. In addition, there are three forward mounted switches that select home, tunes and navigation. The info system’s touch-screen is mounted atop the dashboard where it’s eye friendly. Those seeking the king of mpg will dig its economy screen that reveals fuel usage at set intervals during one’s trip.
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    Five: there’s an economical yet sprightly engine. The twin-cam, 106-hp, 16-valve, 1.5-liter, four-cylinder mill is mated to either a six-speed manual (the smart choice) or a conventional six-speed automatic. The automatic is geared toward low-rpm operation (2000 rpm at 60 mph). There’s a sport-mode switch that produces much engine buzz. During everyday use, the mill sounds like a distant Hoover Concept One, but when you summon all of its ponies, that noise changes into a purposeful snarl. During my expressway trip, the tranny often downshifted without drama to keep things perking. This car has enough beans to play in traffic. Fuel economy in the mid-30s to low 40s is possible. I netted 36 mpg during winter weather; the trip computer indicated 42 on a highway trip. That’s good for an automatic.
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    Six: ride quality is actually very good: like it’s suspended on taut rubber bands. Frost-heaved pavement provokes sudden vertical jolts, yet the sensation is close to an ideal combination of damping and resilience. And unlike some small cars, this one has Mazda’s special sauce—the ability to corner or hold a straight line that inspires confidence.
    Other items worth noting: side view mirrors are large--a boon in city traffic, small electronic displays for tachometer and fuel wash out in daylight. The one lone analogue style dial—the speedometer—presents its info as if you’re supposed to read digits on a Jackson Pollack painting. In contrast, the headlights are effective.
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    Skimpiness means there’s only one overhead grab handle, and the headliner has unsightly plastic plugs. Soft-touch points on the doors and the dashboard’s blue-stitched center strip offset this. Nonetheless, the dashboard cover and door panels are mostly comprised of nicely coated hard plastics.
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    For safety, there’s a low-speed forward-collision mitigation system. For your gear, there's a trunk can swallow two golf bags; there’s a split fold rear seat too. The steering wheel’s switchgear tweaks the infotainment system. I preferred the console’s center knob.
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    In sum: A modest outlay ($17,595) buys one nifty, thrifty little sedan.
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  2. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    Leave it to an automotive journalist to proudly display a FCD screen showing 2.8 MPG. And the automatic trans is the "smart choice" ? Really , Cliff. Your opinion , maybe.
     
  3. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    I think he was saying the manual is the smart choice. But I agree about the 2.8 mpg. ????? Was the car running when you took that shot? Why was it running?

    This car desperately needs a hatchback. I don't know why anyone makes a subcompact sedan at all. They're just too compromised in both people and cargo space. (and look really awkward)
     
    RedylC94 likes this.
  4. RedylC94

    RedylC94 Well-Known Member

    Really? That's highly unimpressive for such a small car. You could do that with similar size cars over 40 years ago. And what's with the 17.5-mpg scale divisions on the stupid space-wasting bar graph?
     
  5. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    Remember , this guy is a "journalist". he probably is high-fiving himself for that "excellent" result.

    And where's the hatch , Toyota ? No one really wants another sedan.
     
  6. cliff leppke

    cliff leppke Cliff Leppke

    Cliff: the reason for the 2.8 mpg number is that i took that picture immediately after starting the car. Thus the short-term mpg was low. look at the trip average it's much higher--36.6. The review says the manual transmission would be the smart choice; it's more responsive, but those who want an automatic transmission should be happy with the fuel economy.
     
  7. cliff leppke

    cliff leppke Cliff Leppke

    Cliff: The current trip is 36.6 mpg. The very-short term mpg is low due to a recent restart. My experience with Mazda's manual transmission vehicles of this type is that they're more responsive, fun to drive.
     
  8. jcp123

    jcp123 Caliente!

    Interesting little car. The interior gives off a whiff of Mercedes inspiration. It does look a bit strange to see fairly obvious Mazda lineage on a Toyota (Scion, whatever), but it wears it pretty handsomely. It comes off as a classy little machine. Strange audio controls, but ok. I'd give em a try. Ditto for the iPad looking thing on the dash. I'm also going to presume the FE potential is top-tier, and reliability is above-average. I really really want to like this car.

    But.

    Not having proper analog gauges for fuel and tach do this car in for me. Yeah I'm a traditionalist. But honestly, electronic gauges should have stayed in the grave with pretty much all of the other rattiness that was the 80s.
     
  9. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I took a cheap shot , Cliff , and I apologize. I understand how those things happen.
    I see what the Prius fcd looks like after the dealer services it. Shudders.
     
  10. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    James , a Scangauge will cure all of that. If I need to see RPM , it's there. I have owned manual cars without a tach. You learn the efficient shift points and convert them to MPH.
     
  11. jcp123

    jcp123 Caliente!

    What I meant is that I don't like they way they made these gauges as a digital display rather than a real gauge.
     
  12. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I guess I do miss the nice analog gauges most of my cars had since the 81 Mazda GLC Sport. That car even had an analog quartz clock ! Needed to be re-set twice a year.
     
  13. BillLin

    BillLin MASS: 2018 Bolt EV and 2017 Prime

    Reminds me of the clock that's right twice a day, no setting required for daylight savings time.

    It is so much easier now to add an analog (looking) tach via OBD dongle and smartphone app. No running wires from the engine compartment like the old days.
     
  14. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    Except in the old days you didn't need to pay big charges for 4G data on smartphones. Most people today seem to accept their wireless phone bill , saying "What can we do? " In the old days , you just needed a low-tech , fool-proof wire. I NEVER had a tach fail on a car I owned. Motorcycle tach ,when they were cable-driven , yes.

    About the quartz clock , I was trying to say the ONLY time it needed to be corrected was for Daylight Savings Time , twice a year. Or if the battery needed to be disconnected. The good old days. Except for the horrible , fussy carburetor that Mazda had.
     
    BillLin likes this.
  15. RedylC94

    RedylC94 Well-Known Member

    Mine was so slow that it needed to be set more like twice a month. After about 25 years of running non-stop, it started taking occasional breaks during cold nights. The '82 had a digital clock---apparently the only change from '81.
     
  16. BillLin

    BillLin MASS: 2018 Bolt EV and 2017 Prime

    I don't like the monthly service costs either. I just say no to the XM radio once the free period expires. I suspect I'll foot the bill for future telematics features that allow for remote access to car diagnostics and status, GPS location, etc. Depends on what they (e.g. Ford) will charge for the service. I have 3 years to see if Subaru's mumble-link services are worth it. I like myFordmobile, especially in relation to a plug-in vehicle. I think my wife will just continue leasing with a different vehicle 18 months from now. The myFordmobile will not need direct out-of-pocket consideration. I don't need wifi provided by the car as I have that now with 500MB free 4G/month with one of those services where you just buy the device (mobile access point) and get lifetime free service. It cost me under $30.
     
  17. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    I sold my GLC when it was only eight years old. Maybe I got one of the "good" clocks.

    Was your GLC an 81 or 82 ? I don't remember.
     
  18. cliff leppke

    cliff leppke Cliff Leppke

    Edwin, I appreciate the apology. The Scion review and the fuel economy meter image were neither intended to brag about my fuel-saving exploits nor make Toyota/Scion/Mazda look foolish. They had a journalist purpose: creating a good read while showing you a useful info display. I must note that you do have a fine sense of writing style--you read between the lines--noticed that my journalism school background. My professors are always happy to hear that their many hours of instruction made a difference.
     
  19. RedylC94

    RedylC94 Well-Known Member

    '81, with the analog clock like yours. Although it wasn't particularly accurate by quartz-clock standards, at least it was 100% reliable for over two decades.

    Apologies for overlooking your question for nearly a week. And I just noticed your "horrible carburetor" comment. I had very little trouble with the carburetor, except for its horribly mis-calibrated electric choke. It overcompensated for ambient temperature changes, therefore overchoked in cold weather and underchoked in warm weather unless manually adjusted with the seasons.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2016

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