What jumps out at you about the Corolla iM is its sharp, aggressive look -- particularly up front -- as compared to the regular Corolla. This is obviously a purposeful design meant to differentiate it from a garden variety sedan. And it actually works pretty well, especially when bright colors are offered -- like the “Storm Blue” model I tested.
Inside, you get limited room in the rear, but the front is roomy. Scion wasn’t know for high-end materials, but in the translation this one doesn’t disappoint. It features a leather steering wheel, comfy seating and and is quite attractive for the price range. Nothing overly cheap to ruin your overall impression of the vehicle’s interior.
Last but not least, the trunk room is decent too and better than a standard sedan (hatchbacks tend to beat sedans in this area).
NOT HOT UNDER THE HOOD
The 2017 Corolla iM is powered by a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine; you can choose either a manual transmission or go with a CVT automatic transmission.
The numbers here (137 horsepower … 126 lb.-ft. of torque) tell the tale and let you know what to expect (answer: not much).
In terms of driving experience, this is not what you would call a hot hatch. It can be fun to drive in sport mode, but acceleration is just not very fast in the Corolla iM … it’s slower than its rivals with 0-to-60 speeds nearing double digits.
The biggest complaint I have, even moreso than the acceleration woes, is the noise. You can hear the engine laboring and wheezing as it works to get you up to speed, and it’s not a pretty sound. If you choose the manual transmission, this should be less of an issue.
On the plus side you get an independent rear suspension, and the iM (which is front-wheel drive only) offers solid handling.
In a nutshell, you’ll get a decent overall driving experience but don’t expect a powerful ride from what’s under the hood here. In Yoda speak, I’ll say: For enthusiasts, this vehicle is not.
Tech is a mixed bag on the Corolla iM. On one hand you get a lot of helpful safety features, including Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning; automatic headlights, and a rearview camera.
On the other side, while the controls are user-friendly, the tech setup is not the greatest on the Corolla iM, and seems quite oudated and in need of an update. A 7-inch touchscreen is standard, as is Bluetooth.
You do not get the option for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, and I found that the safety systems could be overly sensitive at times.
GASSING IT UP
Official fuel mileage numbers on the Corolla iM are 28 city/36 highway/31 combined; Compared to the many other vehicles in the small car segment (Civic, Golf, Mazda3, Cruze, Elantra, Jetta, Impreza, Focus, Corolla, Forte, Sentra -- of which many also offer a hatchback version), the iM’s numbers are strong but not best in class, trailing the leaders by a bit. Still, the numbers are nothing to shake a stick at and won’t be much of a deterrent.
PRICE, BOTTOM LINE
The Corolla iM I tested was priced just over $20,000; and its base price starts about $18,750. This is an affordable ride to buy, and leases are very cheap too. And as you may have heard in your lifetime, Toyotas tend to last a long, long time … so there’s that to consider when weighing your options.
The target audience here is those who like the looks and storage space of a hatchback as opposed to a more ho-hum sedan. The key factor here is that if you choose the Corolla iM, you go in knowing you won’t have a snazzy motor to match the snazzy exterior; you’re still getting a Corolla, which means that there are better options out there for you if speed and power are key concerns.
If that’s not your focus, though, you have reliability, looks and storage in the plus column for the Corolla iM; to each his own, and the sales numbers on the iM won’t break records (just under 2,000 are sold per month; vs. 30,000 for the Corolla sedan), but bringing it over from the Scion lineup was worth it -- as it’s sure to find its own set of fans and possibly see growth in the coming years.
Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.