New Toyota Auris Previews Next-generation Corolla IM Hatchback for North America

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

The Toyota Corolla iM is a bit of a paradox. The bodywork suggests it could be a fun-loving hot hatch, but the illusion dissipates the second you climb into the driver’s seat. The engine seems sick, unfit for the task it has been given, and the ergonomics leave something to be desired. While it’s not really much worse than the Corolla sedan, and it is a serviceable daily commuter for those wanting something affordably efficient, it doesn’t seem up to par with Toyota’s usual fare.

With Scion dead and buried in North America and the Corolla sedan outselling the iM ten-to-one, we’ve wondered if Toyota would even bother keeping the hatchback around. But it looks like it will. The automaker previewed the new Auris hatchback — a European model nearly identical to the Toyota (formerly Scion) iM — in Geneva this week, offering strong hints that it will make its way westward.

The overall concept has changed very little, but the new Auris transitions to the TNGA platform underpinning a good chunk of the brand’s fleet — including the current Corolla sedan in its next incarnation. It also appears to be more upscale, offering a two-tone roof and LED-infused illumination. However, we’re curious about the interior. The current iM feels rather cheap inside and has some of the worst ergonomics in recent memory. The armrest placement on the door is so comically bad, the driver’s side might as well not even have one.

While we aren’t sure if Toyota addressed this issue, it did fine-tune its engine lineup. As an economy car, it makes sense to offer it with a bevy of efficient engines. Toyota claims the next-generation Auris offers a conventional gasoline engine and at least two hybrid powertrains. The hybrids range from a 122-horsepower 1.8-liter unit to a 2.0-liter with 178 hp. However, the internal combustion unit is the same 1.2-liter turbo from the Euro-spec Yaris and CH-R.

That leaves us wondering what’s coming to North America. Toyota wasn’t willing to confirm whether or not the hybrids will make it here, but that 1.2-liter turbo doesn’t seem like an option. When it came time for the brand to bring the CH-R stateside, it opted to give it the old 2.0-liter and left the little turbo in Europe. Despite the larger engine’s extra helping of horsepower, the turbo unit’s early access to torque makes up for the disparity in overall power. So the question stands: what will the new Corolla hatch have under the hood when and if it gets here?

Whatever it is, we are willing to bet Toyota scraps the iM name to fully rope it in with the rest of the Corolla lineup. The hatchback will also come equipped with a new multilink rear suspension and wider footprint for improved handling. An inch shorter than the outgoing model, the new Auris hosts a wheelbase that’s lengthened by 1.6 inches. There’s also a lower roofline.

Odds are good the Corolla iM wouldn’t be updated until next year but, when that happens, it should be exceptionally similar to the new Auris. We’ve got our fingers crossed that the upmarket hybrid and its cheaper alternative will solve the current iM’s lethargy problem. If Toyota can also do something about the lackluster ergonomics, the hatch should be a solid little car, and perhaps worthy of the praise the current model lacks.

[Images: Toyota]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Nick0264 Nick0264 on Mar 09, 2018

    Should I be disturbed by the front end of this car or do I have an overly active imagination?

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Mar 10, 2018

    I always thought the Lexus CT2ooh should have been sold as a Toyota Celica. Likewise, I think if they put the Celica name on the is new hatchback, they'd sell a lot more.

  • Golden2husky Have to say he did an excellent job on the C7, especially considering the limited budget he was given. I am very happy with my purchase.
  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.
  • 2manyvettes Tadge was at the Corvette Corral at the Rolex 24 hour sports car race at the end of January 2023. During the Q&A after his remarks someone stood up and told him "I will never buy an electric Corvette." His response? "I will never sell you an electric Corvette." Take that Fwiw.
  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon