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Signs of life from Scion as the company announces the iM hot-hatch

Perhaps rumors of Scion's death are exaggerated?

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Scion caught many Toyota family watchers off guard with its new iM concept vehicle announcement this week. The concept is a compact hatch the size and style of the cars now popular in rally-racing. Scion uses the word European in the press announcement, which is a term dramatically over-used by automakers. Here it may truly apply since the vast majority of Europeans drive cars this size and not the burly sports sedans we so often imagine.

Scion: Dead or Alive?
Not long ago the automotive media were all abuzz about the possible death of the Scion brand. Slow sales, particularly in comparison to Toyota’s amazing figures, and slow updates to the few models that actually sell within the brand had the press searching to clues to Toyota’s youth-brand’s future. Then one comment sent us all (myself included) to the keyboard to announce the demise of the makers of the tC, xB, and FR-S (and whatever the heck those other ones are called).

Hints of a Resurgent Scion
Last night I was at a meeting that included three Toyota employees and seven of Toyota's PR representatives. One of them mentioned to me that Scion is about to come back strong. She would not give me any more of a hint than that. She has no reason to bluff. The car that we were meeting to discuss is the world's most popular sedan made by the world's most profitable automaker. If Toyota's attention has now shifted back to Scion. quite a few companies that make small cars for young people are about to have some tough years ahead.

Scion’s Vice President Doug Murtha said in an announcement “The tastes of today’s younger buyers have evolved. They want a car that provides excitement and individuality, as well as the comfort, technology and reliability that Scion offers. The iM Concept combines sleek styling with the versatility of a modern hatchback to catch the eye of Scion customers.” If Scion is just now figuring this out it could explain a lot.

What is iM?
If we can be allowed to fantasize a bit, let’s imagine that this small Scion joins the line with the new 2.0-liter turbo found in the Lexus NX with optional AWD. OK, let’s just stop there. If this Scion has an engine bigger than a lunch box and more than 120hp, it will be a blessing.

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Speedhunters takes new Scion FR-S to remarkable heights at SEMA
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Robert (not verified)    November 13, 2014 - 11:12AM

Hot hatch? says the current Auris which this shares a platform with has steering like porridge. The car looks GOOD, don't get me wrong, but is Toyota really going to give it a European driving soul?

mike (not verified)    November 13, 2014 - 1:53PM

I'm honestly getting tired of those hypocrite and most of time completely wrong expressions and repitations such as EUROPEAN DRIVING SOUL or ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE. As a long time owner of German Autos i confirme that today some of Japenese cars drive even better then our german ones.

European driving soul?? Lol.!!!

Robert (not verified)    November 13, 2014 - 10:09PM

In reply to by mike (not verified)

I don't know what in the current Toyota lineup might make your heart flutter, but it's not the Corolla. It can't possibly be the Camry. Any of the crossovers?

I'll admit the AWD v6 rav4 was fun as hell, but there's nothing from Toyota right now that says driving machine.

If you're looking at Honda, then I'll give you the v6 Accord and even the Civic SI could compete with a Europeans, but Honda isn't making this hatch.

It's offensive to know what Toyota CAN do but has chosen not to. I grew up in love with the Supra, and Marty McFly's truck. It had break my dad's heart for his generation to lose their boys to Japanese cars because the American automakers failed us, and my dad always had a project car in the garage from the 60s or 70s we were restoring or rebuilding for a little extra cash. It's equally as depressing to think Toyota has abandon those boys now that they are grown men with disposable incomes.

JeffS (not verified)    November 14, 2014 - 8:05AM

In reply to by Robert (not verified)

I agree with you Robert, Toyota lost its way years ago when it comes to, "Exciting" cars, (less maybe Lexus). They also seem to have taken a step backwards regarding quality and reliability. I owned a '77 Celica which was a great car, I now own a '04 4Runner, which I purchased new, has about 50,000 miles on it, been mostly garage kept, yet I recently had to sand down, wire brush and repaint the undercarriage and suspension which was just rotting away. So much so that I actually just pulled off the front skid plate, (more appropriately splash shield) by hand. If it came off cruising down the highway, that would not have been pretty. Toyota is aware of this problem, have spoken to them about it and their response essentially was, "too bad, so sad". No more Toyotas for me.

John Goreham    November 14, 2014 - 3:33PM

In reply to by Robert (not verified)

I can relate to you Robert. My '79 Supra still holds a place in my heart. I will grant you that there was a bit of a gap (fifteen years!) after the Supra left where Toyota focused on only practicality. However, it simply markets the exciting cars now as the Scion FR-S and Lexus RC F. The IS F was extremely exciting on-track, but frankly boring on-road. The tide is turning. However, I'm not of the opinion this Scion iM is going to be like a MazdaSpeed 3 or Mitsubishi EVO. As the last sentence sort of hints. Thanks for the comment.

JeffS (not verified)    November 15, 2014 - 11:40AM

In reply to by John Goreham

Hello John. Just a matter of personal taste and definition of exciting; I found the FR-S, "Fun", but lacked the refinement and HP to truly make it exciting. I also do not find the design much to write home about, not that it is ugly, it's pleasant to my eye. I think they missed the opportunity to knock one out of the park, again, to me, it seems half baked. Be Well

John Goreham    November 14, 2014 - 3:36PM

In reply to by mike (not verified)

Me too! I hope my point came through in the story. So tired of having to hear about "European..." in car marketing. Most Europeans drive tiny, front-drive econoboxes with soot pouring out the tailpipe. Not Rear-engine boxer powered supercars or sedans with V8s and stick shifts.

Mark Day (not verified)    November 13, 2014 - 7:27PM

"If this Scion has an engine bigger than a lunch box and more than 120hp, it will be a blessing." And blessed is the company that provides high horsepower engines. I've never considered a Scion or Mazda because of the lack of power.

mike (not verified)    November 14, 2014 - 4:12PM

I really hope that Toyota continu to produce more cars like Scion FR-S and Lexus to continu it's way througt Sports Luxury cars as RCF, GS FSPORT, IS F Sport, etc.. and why not a new great Luxury LS with great handling. I hope the deciders at Toyota listen to us because we know that when they decide they can produce i've to admite, great cars. But only when they decide.