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Posts filed under ‘Scion’

Should Scion Be Downsized?

July 6, 2012 by Matt

Scion Logo Trade Show Display

Car and Driver‘s Aaron Robinson grapples with this question, and leans toward the affirmative:

Scion is a brand conceived in a focus group, born in a fluorescent-lit marketing department, and wet-nursed by copious spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. It can claim no pedigree, no history. No Mr. Scion ever lived to turn his personal ambition into automobiles. When you buy a Scion, you buy into something akin to a second-year MBA’s class project on ways to penetrate the youth market by a car company that pins its fortunes almost entirely on aging baby boomers…

I have no doubt that Scion will eventually go the way of Plymouth.

Robinson touches on marketing and project development missteps by the brand, including redesigning their distinctive and successful first-generation xB econobox and tC sports coupe into anonymous, blobby shadows of their former selves. Although I agree with Robinson’s assessment on that point, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to lump in the brand with other defunct nameplates like Mercury, Saturn or even Oldsmobile and Pontiac. A primary reason for the demise of the marques listed was an utter lack of a market in comparison with their badge-engineered stablemates from the same overarching automaker (Ford, General Motors). Scion doesn’t have any internal competition at Toyota, and its mission to offer cars in the low-cost-yet-fun category is much better defined than that of Mercury or Oldsmobile, for example. There’s still a reason to keep Scion around, even if its parent company flounders somewhat in marketing its cars. Opportunity is still present, even if untapped.

Furthermore, from the perspective of an enthusiast, a multiplicity of nameplates is a welcome thing. In a day and age when brands are being euthanized right and left—Saab being the latest to kick the bucket—we should welcome diversity in contrast to an overweening corporate homogenization. Does any true car buff look forward to the prospect of a growing number of increasingly bland cars cranked out by just two or three automakers? No—more brands means more minds solving the same problems, more innovation, and more interest. That isn’t to say we should keep a brand on life support just to keep a nameplate alive in the absence of a worthy product, but in the case of Scion, compelling reasons do exist to maintain the marque, and other issues such as racing pedigree and history, although they take time, can be developed.

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Scion FR-S Returns Toyota to the Driver’s Seat

December 1, 2011 by Matt

Scion FR-S FRS Toyota GT-86 GT86 Subaru BRZ Red

Another bit of large-ish news from the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show: After months of photos and tentative specs, Toyota and Subaru officially unveiled their jointly-developed trifecta of badge-engineered RWD coupes.

Scion FR-S FRS Toyota GT-86 GT86 Subaru BRZ Interior Inside Cockpit Dashboard Gauges

As reported previously, the common ground between the Subaru BRZ, US-only Scion FR-S and rest-of-world Toyota GT-86 is their 2.0l, 200 hp flat-four engine, overall shape, light-ish 2800 lb weight and RWD architecture. The brand- or sub-brand-specific fine-tuning is up to the individual automakers, and so far it looks like Subaru’s going to give their BRZ a harder performance edge in contrast to Toyota’s selection of a more docile feel for their coupes. Either way, expect a myriad of further trim lines and variations on the basic theme, both from the automakers and from the legion of aftermarket tuning outfits chomping at the bit to get their hands on the cars.

I can hardly blame them; we’ve been waiting since ’05, when the Toyota MR2 Spyder left our shores, for a real enthusiast-oriented car from the Japanese automaker. For a time, they redirected their efforts toward dominating the market for hybrid cars with their Prius, neglecting the performance legacy established by the aforementioned MR2, Celica, AE86 Corolla and almighty Supra. I think I speak for many enthusiasts out there when I say, “Welcome home, Toyota.”

Scion FR-S FRS Toyota GT-86 GT86 Subaru BRZ Engine Bay Motor

A quick glance at the engine bay reveals some positive and some disappointing features for those of us in the do-it-yourself set, professional or otherwise. It seems the shock towers are already braced to the firewall, eliminating, or at least rendering irrelevant, the presence of an aftermarket shock tower brace, a favorite engine bay ornament of the Fast & Furious crowd. Speaking of the shock towers, I guarantee you their location relative to the wide, flat engine is going to make changing spark plugs a complete nightmare. Fortunately, most cars having a 100K mile tuneup interval, that’s probably not a procedure that will have to be attempted often. The airbox is situated prominently, right up front in the bay, providing a nice location for the inevitable aftermarket cone filter to draw warm air from under the hood, giving the supposedly performance-minded owner a couple horsepower debit over the OEM piece, which is an actual cold-air intake.

At the very least, the FR-S and its cousins may give wannabe racers a showroom-fresh, balanced, RWD alternative to their aging Nissan 240SXs, FC RX-7s and brawny Mustangs. I’ll drink to that.

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