Scion's new iQ minicar and FR-S coupe are nothing like the range of products originally envisioned for the brand. But changing the recipe was always part of the deal for Toyota's youth brand.
Indeed, the future of the xB and xD -- the cars that have mainly defined Scion until now -- are in flux. The hatchbacks are aging poorly and will be at least 6 years old when replaced, despite Scion's original promise of quick model changeovers.
iQ: The three-passenger minicar arrived in fall 2011.
xB: Scion executives give mixed signals about the boxy car that is a brand icon. They say it is important, but also that the box has run its course and is likely to be replaced by something much different. There has been talk of reconfiguring the boxy, 100-inch wheelbase Daihatsu COO/Materia, which is closer in size and design to the original xB that defined the Scion brand.
Scion has said the 2013 New York auto show will offer an idea as to the successor. The problem: The xB will be 6 years old by then and should have been replaced by now.
xD: Scion also will show the replacement for its entry hatchback at the New York show next spring. The new vehicle is derived from Toyota's NBC (New Basic Car) platform that also is the basis of the Yaris. Because of the xD's tepid sales, Scion is rethinking its entry in the segment. We may see something more like the Ractis mini-minivan from the Japan market. The new xD likely will arrive in the fall of 2013.
tC: The sport coupe's redesign arrived in summer of 2010. Expect special trim-package editions but few other changes. A typical five-year cycle puts a redesign in the summer of 2015.
FR-S: The rear-wheel-drive 200-hp sporty coupe arrived this spring. Because pricing of the base FR-S starts above $25,000, the idea of a turbocharged performance version has been shelved because it would be too expensive. Drivers who want more power will get aftermarket kits from Toyota Racing Development, or other kit suppliers, but there will be no retail version.
The convertible also is a no-go for the United States because of the price issue. It will sell in overseas markets with the Toyota "86" badge
Mini pickup: Toyota sources say there will be no production version of the A-BAT concept from the 2008 Detroit show. But that doesn't mean the idea of a car-based utility vehicle is dead. A funky pickup could rise from the ashes. But the market for compact pickups is small, and pricing pressure -- especially given the yen exchange rates if the vehicle were to be made in Japan -- is too tough.