By on March 27, 2015


We don’t have the rights to run the spy photos of the Scion iA concept, but you can check them out here. The above rendering, from TopSpeed, is 99.9% accurate, for better or for worse. On the surface, it looks like an uglier version of the Mazda2 sedan, with the unfortunate catfish maw grafted on in place of the rather handsome Mazda front end treatment. The on paper sepcs aren’t exactly thrilling either.

We at TTAC estimate a 1.5L Skyactiv 4-cylinder making 106 horsepower, with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic gearbox. From what we’ve seen, the tablet-style screen present on all Mazdas will make its way over, and it’s possible that even the excellent HMI Commander knob will too.

On the surface, it seems like a cynical attempt by Scion to cash in on the low end of the market without building a car of their own. But this kind of thing has been happening for years and years in the Japanese Domestic Market. The Civic (well, really the Domani, aka the Acura EL) itself was lent out to Isuzu and sold as a Gemini, with literally no modifications beyond a couple of “Isuzu” emblems slapped on in strategic locations.

The iA will at least have a different front end (ugly as it may be), and the dealer network for Scion is a lot more extensive than Mazda.  106 horsepower seems a bit lackluster, but keep in mind that in hatch form, the car weighs 2270 lbs. The Skyactiv unit will almost certainly return outstanding fuel economy, and both gearboxes are among the best in the industry. It’s basically the Isuzu Gemini we never got – and it won’t amputate your legs in an accident.

And let’s not forget this either: Mazda can use ever dollar that comes its way. The deal with Toyota is probably a nice cash infusion for the company, and helps use some capacity at its new Mexican plant.

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36 Comments on “Generation Why: Invasion Of The Bodystyle Snatches...”

  • avatar
    Mr. Orange

    Would this vehicle make Toyota, when it comes to the US market, one of the largest foreign purveyors of badge engineering.

  • avatar

    The Blah Mobile for the Me-Too folks.

  • avatar

    Man oh man. That is one ugly front end. Looks like a dead catfish on wheels

    • 0 avatar

      It doesn’t look any better on the Toyota Camry or the Ford Focus RS, either.

      • 0 avatar

        The response by car people is the same everywhere you look. I wonder why they don’t stop implementing it?

        1) Can’t turn around before it’s everywhere. Will make any new design look gorgeous.

        2) Toyota-people buy blindly – all they need to see is the batch.

        3) You can only get so much attention with bland, pleasant design. All PR is good PR.

  • avatar

    You know what’s scary? Look closely at many of the cars coming out this year and next, and you suddenly realize that Nagare was AHEAD of its time.

    I’m awe-stricken.

  • avatar

    so ugly it’s almost cute.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Gasp, what is it with Toyota?

    Did they have a fetish to hire stylists that even Bangle fired?

    Toyota front ends win the “what can we do to really make this far fugly” contest hands down.

  • avatar

    I’ll be interested to see how they price this vs the Mazda2. If the price is equal or greater than the Mazda2, there isn’t any point in considering it, given Scion’s set pricing structure, unless you really want a sedan. Granted, there are some dealers that discount Scions (they offer the same price to everyone), but those are pretty uncommon.

  • avatar

    I’d have to go for the Mazda version, since it looks *far* better…

  • avatar

    I just don’t see the reason for this to exist – at all.

    If I walk into a Toyota showroom with a Scion subdealer in it I’m faced with the:


    Speculation – probably in that pricing order.

    The Yaris hasn’t broken 1K units per month in forever, and is over 50% fleet. The Yaris itself has no reason to exist.

    The iA is going to be the better car likely between the Yaris and the iA. HP numbers are about the same but the iA will have “zoom zoom” and benefit from more modern under-pinnings than the 4-speed auto, steel wheel shod with rear drum brakes Yaris.

    But Scion has no haggle that’s the sticker price buddy take it or leave it pricing. So right next to the iA is the Corolla LE, with sexy LED headlights, more room, and more power and well, for the demographic that’s looking at an iA, it says Toyota not Scion, and it’s a Corolla. Corolla = Maytag washing machine with wheels.

    The Corolla has give me, low down, low payment leases, 0% financing and cash on the hood. Right now there is a $139 a month lease with $2600 down, 0% for 60 months, and/or $500 cash on the hood. That’s before the dealer slashes the sticker price on the Corolla.

    The iA appears dead on arrival. The best it can hope for is cannibalize what few retail sales of the Yaris happen eacn month, to the detriment of total volume.

    I just see no reason for this car to exist. Additional headwinds against it, the huge mountain of evidence that American buyers, and for that matter global buyers in this category, don’t want small sedans. They want cute utes like the HR-V, Trax, Duster, etc. etc. etc. The want the Kia Soul, and they desperately want Scion to build a “new” first gen Scion xB with a little more grumf than the gen 1 and modern features to compete content wise with vehicles like the Soul.

    When you look at buying trends, demographics, and what consumers want, the iA is a stunningly tone deaf offering to the market.

    It seems almost ironic that what Scion needs to possibly justify itself as a stand alone brand going forward is a cute ute. The problem that Toyota has, that RAV-4 sitting on the showroom floor next to it…

    • 0 avatar

      Perhaps it supposed to be a Nissan Sentra competitor of sorts, just an ugly low budget sedan for people who want new cars but can’t afford something decent.

      • 0 avatar
        formula m

        They are reliable transportation that’s economical maintain and fuel. Corolla and Sentra are cars. With everyone driving a pickup truck the second vehicle in a house hold are often good, reliable small cars. $40K plus for a truck and $20k for a 2nd car. Or you can get two cars that are “something decent”.

      • 0 avatar

        Except the 2 *is* decent. Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.

        Or do you mean ‘decent’ in the sense of being oversized and overweight compared to more economical offerings?

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Versa. Being Scion, they’ll put a kickin’ sound system and touchscreen head unit in it, and release a special edition with gaudy paint and wheels every three months.

    • 0 avatar

      Gotta keep that CAFE in check.

  • avatar

    This is basically a win-win, IMO. Mazda wins in that it gets to produce a vehicle that can be sold in Toyota’s massive (comparably) dealer base under a nameplate that most assume is an inexpensive Toyota. The extra sales should help them move more volume through the Mexico facility and the development costs of the platform for the US market are spread over a larger volume. Toyota/Scion gets a win in that it doesn’t have to convert a JDM product to US standards like it has had to do with the xA, xB1, xB2, and xD. It also gets new product quickly with a reasonably small investment. This won’t directly compete with the 2 in that one is a sedan and the other is a hatch. Plus, it isn’t a bad looking little runabout. It certainly doesn’t look as goofy as a Fiesta sedan, for example.

  • avatar

    I don’t get all the fuss over the spy shots and the rendering, so much paranoia over shots of a very average car.

    Mazdas are known for firm “enthusiast” suspension while using thin body materials and such, should Toyota tune the suspension to their liking all that you’re left with is a cheap ugly sedan.

    Say hello to the latest Chevy Prizm.

  • avatar

    I don’t want a Mazda 2, and I’m certainly not interested in a Scion.

    100% success!

  • avatar

    Bringing ’em on over from a Mazda factory in Mexico to round out a scintillating product lineup at a Scion dealership near you. And the crowd roared.

  • avatar

    I actually think it looks alright, not that I’d ever buy one.

  • avatar

    I’d be willing to bet more AARP members than Millennials end up buying the Scion iA.

    I understand sometimes, automakers just have to make a buck. But Toyota doesn’t seem to take Scion seriously, so why should we?

  • avatar

    I can’t understand how this makes sense with the Yaris and base Corolla in the same showroom. Maybe the funds could be used to make them better or diversify their trim levels. Seems so…1980’s GM or 1970’s Chrysler

  • avatar

    It looks like a mean little bunny, like Bunny Foo Foo picking up the field mice and bopping them on the head, and dropping f-bombs on little old ladies for walking to slowly through the crosswalks.

  • avatar
    Poppa Gilley

    Scion…. time to stick a fork in it.

  • avatar

    As I understand it, Scion’s supposed to be aimed at people my age(21) or more likely just a tiny bit older. But man, their failing hard. I’m guessing if I asked the next 10 guys or girls I see, they probably will know Scion’s a car company, maybe know their made by Toyota, possibly know a model they make, but overall have zero interest in finding out more or even buying one.

    My point being? What’s the point of Scion? Why do they use their resources on it? They don’t really seem to be going anywhere, and definitely not anywhere fast. Toyota already builds a car for people my age, the Corolla. Unless it’s a truck, it seems every person who posts on Facebook “hey, I bought a new car” with a picture they’ve just bought a Corolla or a Civic.

    Kinda rambled, but to the car, it’s meh. The front doesn’t look like anything in particular just bland. But the curves and lines on the rest of the body look off to me.. it doesn’t come together or look right without the Mazda front end treatment.

  • avatar

    Scion management can now put shark jumping on their resume. As a long time scion owner, I am done with the brand.

  • avatar

    God that’s ugly! Saves money though, no styling needed. Just slap a black bar across the middle of the grill, DONE, sell it! Like how Hyundai ruined the Genesis Coupe.

  • avatar

    So Mazda’s ultra modern, direct injection Skyactiv 1.5L is rated at just 106hp? Doesn’t Toyota’s relatively ancient 1.5L engine from the Yaris already generate about the same figure?

  • avatar

    I would think that this move is all about crashworthiness – Toyota doesn’t want to spend a fortune on a “clean-sheet” Scion that will see limited sales.

    Which is why you’ll never see the original xB again – wouldn’t get through the IIHS without a “poor” in the ratings somewhere.

    Seems like the Mitsu grille will “direct” hapless pedestrians quite nicely to the soft hood.

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