By on March 7, 2018

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]

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20 Comments on “New Toyota Auris Previews Next-generation Corolla iM Hatchback for North America...”

  • avatar

    The Corolla iM comes from Europe, no? Read the next article up. Tariffs on European cars will make this non-viable in the US.

    • 0 avatar

      And … You’d be dead wrong. It’s made in Japan.

      Still, it hardly seems to merit the scorn Posky dishes out. That’s his operative style though, in an attempt to hoist himself to the top echelon of automotive writers. Snideness for the sake of it and little more.

  • avatar

    Wider track, longer wheelbase, lower roofline = CAFE 2025

    I think this signals that compact sedans have nothing to offer the manufacturers. They can’t monetize. Therefore, they will force us into hatchbacks, which will reject for premium price CUVs.

  • avatar

    “but the new Auris transitions to the TNGA platform underpinning a good chunk of the brand’s fleet — including the current Corolla sedan.”

    Nope. The current Corolla is, along with the current Auris/iM, based on thr MC platform around since the 2006 Corolla.

  • avatar

    I’m just hoping for the day where “large, fish-shaped open mouth” grill designs go the way of the dodo. Otherwise, not a bad looker. Interested to see what engine/trans combos they’ll toss our way (assuming it comes here).

  • avatar

    The pitiable engine and lack of a telescoping steering wheel killed it for me. I really wanted to love that car.

    • 0 avatar

      The Alex on Autos review mentions and shows a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, but I completely agree on the engine.

      Every car the Corolla is competing with has more HP and torque. Now that the 4 cylinder Camry has been bumped up there is enough daylight for the Corolla to at least bump up to 160 HP.

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    This will be easy to sell as a Lexus, just pop on another badge.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    Go back to calling it the Matrix. While that name doesn’t have a heck of a lot of brand equity, but as far as I can tell, it doesn’t seem to have a *bad* reputation either.

    It would be nice to have a XRS version once again, but I know that’s likely dreaming

  • avatar

    Now if they could only slip a Lexus emblem on it – make it rear wheel drive, and a inline 6 like my is300 sportcross. Then I might consider it!

  • avatar

    I sort of like the current iM “on paper” but I’ve never actually driven one, and it could use a few more amenities. I like hatchbacks, but my criteria will be quiet, interior choice other than black, not a VW. This does not look as fugly as most current T’s.

  • avatar

    Nice looking little hatch, love that green. You’d think Toyota of all people could sort out the drivetrain and ergonomics, hopefully they will.

  • avatar

    Yeah. There’s really nothing wrong with the iM as it is now, it fits the Toyota stereotype to a tee and It looks great. As usual for Toyota, it has an outdated, proven powertrain (except for the CVT) that isn’t the most responsive but will run fine for 20+ years, and handling is never their priority.

    This new one looks pretty generic, and I imagine it’ll have the same powertrain as our CHR gets.

  • avatar

    It’s already a Toyota-badged car now. Why not just call it the Auris here in North America too? Few here recognize the Corolla connection anyway. If anything, it adds an element of confusion. There’s precedent for it: the Echo was the Yaris in Europe and elsewhere, and they eventually trashed the Echo name to call it the Yaris in North America, too. Seems an obvious move for Toyota, and a good way to leave the Scion era behind. For that matter, they did the same thing with the FR-S>86. Even more precedent!

    • 0 avatar

      I imagine its a way to lump together and thus obfuscate sales numbers ala the Camry Solara (and possibly the current ‘Yarii’ … which would make even less sense given they share nothing other than a name).

  • avatar

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

  • avatar

    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.

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