The wait is finally over: The long-rumored Scion sedan has finally arrived. Scion is showing off the new Scion iA at the New York Auto Show, and hopes are that it will spur some consumer interest in the fledgling brand and give Scion a foothold in the ever-important sedan segment. So far, the reviews and reactions seem, well, mixed.
While it was fairly obvious that Scion had been planning to get a sedan into its lineup, nobody quite knew for sure what was in the pipeline. Now, with the unveiling of the new iA, we’re getting our first look. The car itself has a similar style to its corporate cousins from Toyota, notably the Corolla. Also, it definitely looks like a Mazda, doesn’t it? You’re not crazy — the iA is actually the result of a partnership between Scion and Mazda, meaning that the iA is actually built on the Mazda 2 platform.
“The ‘i’ in the models’ names can stand for intriguing, individual, and easy on customers’ income,” Scion said in a press release. “Meanwhile the ‘A’ for the sedan denotes the accommodating trunk and the aggressive styling.”
“The Scion iA sedan is designed to appeal to young people who need a little more practicality, but still want engaging styling and outstanding driving dynamics,” according to the company.
One thing that will definitely help make the iA appealing to younger drivers is that it will be incredibly fuel-efficient. The iA will be able to achieve up to 42 miles per gallon on the highway, thanks in part to a four-cylinder, 1.5-liter engine that will likely produce a paltry 70 to 100 horsepower, though official numbers haven’t been made available.
It’s also being released alongside Scion’s other new model, the iM hatchback, which we have previously covered.
So, as exciting (or unexciting) as the new iA is, the real question is whether it will be able to do what Scion needs it to do: give the company a strong sales anchor in the face of declining sales. It’s been nine years since Scion’s strongest year of sales, in 2006, when the company moved 173,000 models across the United States. For comparison, last year it sold slightly less than 46,000. Clearly, a change was needed.
Given the popularity of midsize and compact sedans in the U.S. — think of the Camry, Accord, Civic, Corolla, etc. — adding one to the lineup was pretty much a no-brainer.
Scion does seem to realize that the key to winning sales will be to win over the younger population, but one of the biggest problems it faces with that challenge is getting younger people to actually want to buy cars. The millennial generation, those that Scion is marketing toward, have famously been shunning car ownership, among other things. There are a lot of reasons why, but if Scion plans to successfully buck that trend, cars like the iA and iM may be able to do it. They’re affordable, economical, and stylish, all important factors.
Still, it’s unclear whether younger drivers will turn their around consumption habits, and if Scion is the brand to convince them to do it. While the iA is sure to spur some kind of activity on the sales front for Scion and Toyota, it still doesn’t seem to have the swagger or excitement surrounding it that sends the message that it’s here to change the game.
The iA will actually be sold in other markets as the new Toyota Yaris. So what we have is a new Scion model that was built by Mazda and which will be sold as a Toyota in other markets. It’s a bit convoluted, and it doesn’t seem like Toyota or Scion themselves have all that much confidence in the new model.
Seriously, just take a look at the interior, which is
almost identical to that from the new Mazda CX-3:
— James Riswick (@jriswick) April 1, 2015
So there we have it. After months of speculation, the Scion iA sedan has been officially unveiled. While it’s not going to drum up excitement like a Ford GT or Acura NSX, it does give Scion a player in the sedan field. Again, the question is whether or not it can re-establish Scion as a force to be reckoned with.
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