Goodbye, Scion

The Scion brand has been cancelled, but the cars won’t disappear. In fact, most will be hiding in plain sight with new nameplates at the other end of a Toyota showroom.

By Jim Gorzelany
CTW Features

While Toyota recently announced it would be discontinuing its youth-oriented Scion division at the end of the 2016 model year, most of its models will in fact live on for the 2017 model year and be rebranded as Toyotas.

The one current Scion car that will not make it into next year, the tC compact coupe, will receive a going away honor of sorts this summer with a limited edition Release 10.0 version. Visually the car adds a racy looking front lip spoiler, rocker panels and lower rear spoiler, along with a modest wing added to the rear the deck. Mechanically, the car will receive TRD (Toyota Racing Development) springs and a TRD-tuned dual exhaust for a touch of added visceral excitement. Only 1,200 will be built, starting at $23,985.

Meanwhile, two Scion cars that just debuted for 2016 will be rechristened the Toyota Yaris iA and Toyota Corolla iM.

Built in conjunction with Mazda (it’s sold as the Mazda2 in other markets), the iA is a high-content premium subcompact sedan that looks and feels a lot like the MX-3 subcompact crossover SUV with which it shares components and interior accommodations. It’s already called the Yaris sedan in Canada and Mexico, so this won’t be much of a stretch. Likewise, the compact iM four-door hatchback is essentially a station wagon version of the Corolla, the previous generation of which was sold as the Toyota Matrix. Other than the nameplates, little is expected to change for either model.

Perhaps the biggest news for car fans is that the well-regarded Scion FR-S sports car will live on with modest improvements and a new name, the Toyota 86, which already is used in other markets.

Arguably one of the quickest-handling sports cars this side of a Porsche, both auto enthusiasts and reviewers have clamored for more under-hood power for this lithe little car since its introduction for the 2013 model year. Though a turbocharged version of the 2.0-liter “boxer” engine it shares with its equivalent at Subaru — the BRZ — had been hoped, the 86 will have to make do with a boost of just five horsepower and as many pound-feet of torque. That brings these specs up to 205 horsepower and 156 pound-feet, respectively.

The 86’s six-speed manual transmission will also receive revised gear ratios that should translate into slightly quicker off-the-line launches; Hill Start Assist Control will be added to help prevent the car from rolling backwards on steep hills while at a stop. The comely coupe will also receive suspension updates, including revised shock tuning and spring rates, which should sharpen-up its already impressive cornering abilities a notch.

As for the car’s styling, incremental revisions will help give it a more aggressive look, especially up front with a larger lower air intake, new LED headlamps and turn signals and a revised bumper. The 86 will also receive LED tail lamps and a freshened bumper design at the rear. Interior upgrades include a new steering wheel and front seats, and softer-surface “Grandlux” materials on the dash and door panels to help give the cabin a richer look and feel.

What’s more, the new C-HR subcompact crossover SUV, which was originally developed as a Scion, will join the Toyota lineup in spring 2017 as a 2018 model. If the concept model shown at last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show is any indication, this will be among the most stylish looking models in the subcompact crossover SUV segment, competing with the likes of the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Chevrolet Trax. Expect it to pack a small four-cylinder engine, offer all-wheel-drive and come well equipped.

© CTW Features

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