Scion's entry-level reload means big changes

The Scion xB will be replaced by a version of the Toyota Auris.
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Future Product Pipeline

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described plans for the Toyota Yaris.

After a year of studying the possibility of turning Scion into a near-luxury brand that would slot underneath Lexus and compete against the German entry-luxury products, Toyota has decided to keep it as a starter brand with a product lineup tailored to young shoppers.

That lineup won't be exclusively cheap -- the $25,000-plus FR-S coupe will stay another generation, executives say -- but the emphasis will be on first-time new-car buyers.

With the xB and xD heading well into the seventh year of their cycles, expect big lineup changes starting early next year. Also, expect new nomenclature, as Toyota has filed trademark applications for iA, iD, iM, tD, tK, tR, tS and tZ. That doesn't necessarily mean the lineup will expand to eight vehicles, because Toyota often over-files its trademark apps.

Here is what to expect from the Scion camp in the near term.

xB: Scion's signature box car will go away in spring 2015 when it is replaced by a version of the Europe-market Toyota Auris hatchback, based on the Corolla platform but equipped with a sharp-handling double-wishbone rear suspension. Expect the U.S. version to get something zippier than the Auris' 1.8-liter 136-hp four-banger, which has a poky 11-second 0-to-60 time. The nameplate may be changed.

xD: The Yaris-based hatchback is likely to be killed in mid-2015 when Scion gets a sedan derivative of the Mazda2 from Mazda's Salamanca, Mexico, plant. Sources say the Scion may carry the 1.5-liter Mazda Skyactiv engine, but without any Mazda markings. It should arrive by summer 2015. The nameplate may be changed.

tC: The sport coupe's redesign arrived in summer 2010. Expect special trim-package editions but few other changes until a redesign in early 2016.

FR-S: Launched in spring 2012. Although rumors in the Australian press claim the rear-wheel-drive coupe is a one-and-done deal, executives at Toyota and Subaru -- which co-developed the FR-S and its sibling, the Subaru BRZ -- insist there will be a next-generation vehicle. Expect it to arrive in spring 2017.

Crossover: Toyota is studying a low-slung Scion crossover, smaller than a RAV4, and running off a modified Corolla/Auris platform in all-wheel-drive setup. It would arrive in 2016 or 2017.

iQ: The minicar has fallen well short of expectations. Expect euthanasia by the end of 2014.

You can reach Mark Rechtin at mrechtin@crain.com. -- Follow Mark on Twitter


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