In the past, I’ve talked about what companies could do to help with struggling brands in the US market. One of those was Toyota’s ‘youth-oriented’ brand, Scion.
Well, now that the brand’s going through a bit of a shuffle at the moment, with some old models getting tossed out and new ones coming in, I thought I’d take another crack at it with a revised look at what my plan would be if I ran the Scion brand.
What’s there already:
FR-S - Scion’s ‘performance’ model, the FR-S is the only RWD vehicle in the whole North American market Toyota portfolio that isn’t a truck, SUV, or Lexus.
People have complained about it not having enough power. 200hp is a good bit of power, but when a FWD Honda Civic Si has 5 more HP than an RWD FR-S...they kinda have a point.
But, instead of trying to turbocharge the existing one, I’d actually wait a year or two and (pending permission from Subaru), just bring a more powerful one out with a second generation FR-S.
tC - The other ‘sporty’ Scion, the tC doesn’t seem to have that great of a reputation.
But it’s not a slouch, with that 180hp engine under the hood.
But if a third gen tC comes out, I’d make a couple changes.
First, the powertrain could get an upgrade. Make the base engine the same 2.0 as the related Avensis.
HP would be down 30 from the current one, but it would likely be a bit more efficient than the current 2.5, allowing the tC to have a bit more mainstream appeal, and still having 5 more hp than the competing Kia Forte Koup.
Then, a more powerful engine that would be between 185 and 195 hp, as not to impede on the FR-S, unless a more powerful engine ends up being standard in the second gen and not optional, at which point an even more powerful tC could happen.
Then, bodystyles. The tC line would grow to include a tC sedan to slot above the iA and a diesel-only wagon to be a more thrifty but also more fun to drive alternate to the iM hatchback.
The sedan would also benefit from the whole range of engines from the coupe and sedan, with two gas engines and a diesel. All of this would still happen based on the Avensis chassis, but made a bit sportier.
iM - The upcoming iM seems to be rather lackluster, being a rebadged Auris with a US spec Corolla powertrain...yawn.
How about spicing things up? Ditch the Corolla powertrain altogether, and put in the two gas engines from my tC proposal above. This wouldn’t get a diesel, because that would be for the diesel-only tC wagon, which would be marketed as an alternative.
Manual transmission and dual-clutch automatic. No CVT, no outdated 4-speed automatic, and no plain automatic.
iA - The new entry level Scion, the iA, a rebadged Mazda2 sedan built in Mexico, should be a decent and actually fun car (if they don’t suck the driving dynamics out of it).
The only real change I could see is to add a Skyactiv-D diesel engine if Mazda decides not to offer one in the US-Spec Mazda2 hatch.
Other than that, it’s pretty much fine as is, as long as there’s a manual transmission.
What could come:
iR and iV or iV and iV+ - Here, we see a two-pronged approach with a pair of Scion MPVs.
The smaller one, a rebadged Ractis, and the larger one, a rebadged Verso.
The rebadged Ractis would be Scion’s second diesel-only model, with only the 1.4 1ND-TV turbodiesel being offered, but with a larger turbocharger, pushing it up from 73hp to about 90-95hp.
The Turkish-built rebadged Verso would have three engine options, either a 1.8L 4 cylinder gasoline engine with 147hp, or the choice of two versions of the same 2.2L diesel, with 15o or 177hp.
Naming on these could go either way, either the Ractis becomes the iR and the Verso becomes the iV, or they take a Prius-like approach and both use the iV name, with the Verso becoming iV+.
iW - An even larger MPV could come, in the form of the iW, a rebadged Toyota WISH.
Unlike the JDM WISH, which has engines with no more than 156hp, the iW would use US-spec RAV4 engines, with the 179hp 2AR-FE gasoline engine, or the 2AR-FXE hybrid version, with 154hp. This wouldn’t be the current WISH (seen above), though, but a rebadged third generation model, and possibly offered with AWD, being the first Scion to do so.
iS - Lastly, the iS. This would pick up where the failed Lexus HS left off. Instead of being an entry level luxury car, it would be a premium Scion, being a rebadged version of the HS’ brother, the SAI.
Instead of using the same 2.4L hybrid system of the current SAI, it would use the same 2AR-FXE the iW would use.
Being based on the New MC Platform, it could even be built alongside the Corolla in Mississippi, being the first US-built Scion product.
With this lineup, Scion would have a diverse selection of models that won’t overlap anything in Toyota’s lineup, offering a good blend of mainstream and entry level premium products, allowing the brand to slip right between Toyota and Lexus, and changing them from an oddball brand to something that feels like it belongs, something that feels more like the Toyota of old, back in the days of the Supra, the AWD Celica, along with Tercel and Corolla wagons, while also bringing a taste of JDM, like the brand has been doing from the beginning.