It's fairly unassuming, and won't make my friends endlessly jealous, but that's not why I bought it.
Toyota's Scion experiment, which recently ended in Canada, was ill-fated to say the least. The short-lived automotive brand was aimed at a younger set of consumers, but for whatever reasons, efforts to appeal to a more youthful crowd didn't translate into significant sales. Why, then, did I purchase a Scion iM a few months ago, knowing full well the company was headed to extinction?
I will say that one of the driving forces had to do with me being intrigued by the idea of driving a vehicle that very few people had. The iM went on sale late in 2015, and a total of 3,512 were sold in Canada before the model was rebadged and added to the Toyota lineup for the 2017 model year as the Corolla iM.
I could have easily bought a Mazda3 or Honda Civic or Kia Forte5 - all nice cars in their own right within the segment - but virtually all of my friends own a Mazda3 or Civic. I simply wasn't interested in being a part of that cult.
I also had my heart set on a hatchback, and although the market for compact hatches has grown in recent months thanks to the five-door Civic and Chevy Cruze coming to market, those weren't available for another few months when I was shopping around. My lifestyle necessitated a set of wheels, so I couldn't wait.
You're probably thinking "but the iM is so boring!" and believe me - I'm well aware it's not going to win any drag races or set any Nurburgring lap records anytime soon. It's essentially a Corolla with five doors, but I'm okay with that. See, I do a lot of driving in urban places - I live in one of the biggest cities in Canada - and the small-but-not-too-small iM makes easy work of parallel parking and fitting into tight underground spaces. It's also kinda pointless to speed from one red light to the next.
I'm kind of lazy, and I've always liked the idea of all-in cars, like the iM is. While you can definitely add certain accessories such as a cargo net or an upgraded infotainment system (which I admittedly opted for), all iMs are outfitted the same, save for the exterior colour and transmission. I went for the six-speed manual. I've never owned a manual-equipped vehicle before, and wasn't sure how my patience would handle stop and go traffic while manipulating three pedals, but I have zero complaints in that respect.
Then there's the well-known Toyota reliability. I don't plan on having this car for 15 years, but even so, it's nice knowing I don't have to worry too much about if the car will start after sitting idle in the cold for a day.
Although cars in this segment look deceivingly similar, I think the handsome iM manages to stand out. I've had a surprising number of people stop me - whether at a gas station, on the street, or even while driving - to compliment the car. It's a point of pride, for sure. It's also easy for me to pick out other iMs driving around, but man, I never so much as get a sideways glance from those other drivers. I always try to make eye contact and at least give a knowing smirk, but it just doesn't seem to be in the cards. Unlike owners of a certain offroading icon, I guess when it comes to buying the iM, it's not a Scion thing.
If I was given a blank cheque to buy any car my little heart desired, of course I'd go with something that was both versatile and performance-oriented - maybe an Audi RS 7 Sportback or even a Volvo V60 Polestar - but with a limited budget, the iM made a lot of sense for me.
It's fairly unassuming, and won't make my friends endlessly jealous, but that's not why I bought it. It can fit a lot of stuff, and I enjoy driving it both around the city, and in my occasional jaunts to the suburbs and beyond. Oh, and with gas prices rising once again, I like that the iM is good on fuel. I'm averaging a respectable 8.4 litres per 100 kilometres in combined city/highway driving. That's higher than the combined 7.4 L/100 km given by NRCAN, but real world numbers rarely equal or exceed what's on a window sticker.
That being said, I'll be sure to write a follow-up story with what I buy after I win the lottery.