The Scion Brand May Be Dying, But Here’s How Its Cars Will Survive

2 years ago
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Back in February Toyota announced it would be decommissioning its youth-oriented Scion division at the end of the 2016 model year, and its plans for the existing model line, as well as a planned small crossover that had been set to join the fleet, are now coming into focus.

While most of its models will making the transition to the other side of the showroom and rebranded as Toyotas, its oldest model – the tC coupe – will take a final lap around the track for 2016.5 before being put to pasture with a limited edition tC Release 10.0 version. Visually the car adds a specific front lip spoiler, rocker panels, lower rear spoiler, and a modest wing added to the rear the deck, along with TRD (Toyota Racing Development) lowering 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 models that debuted for 2016 will be absorbed into existing Toyota model lines and be rechristened the Yaris iA and Corolla iM.

Built in conjunction with Mazda (it’s sold as the Mazda2 in other markets), the iA is a premium small 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 isn’t much of a stretch. Likewise, the iM is already more or less a station wagon version of the Corolla, the previous generation of which was sold as the Toyota Matrix. This move alone should save Toyota and its dealers a decent chunk of cash in terms of marketing and ordering, and will help to more sharply focus both model lines in terms of consumer perception.

Arguably the biggest news for car fans is that the FR-S sports car will live on with a new name – the Toyota 86. That’s the moniker used globally for the car, but being of a certain age, to us it immediately brings to mind Don Adams’ Agent 86 in the classic TV comedy “Get Smart” (who, as the series progressed drove a Sunbeam Tiger, Volkswagen Karman Ghia, and an Opel GT, so at least there’s a sporty-car connection there). At any rate, the 86 will receive some modest performance and cosmetic tweaks to go along with the new nameplate.

Enthusiasts and auto writers alike have been clamoring for more under-hood power for this lithe little car since its introduction for the 2013 model year – perhaps a turbocharged version of the 2.0-liter “boxer” engine it shares with its equivalent at Subaru, the BRZ – but we’ll all have to settle for a boost of just five horsepower and as many pound-feet of torque in the meantime, now up to 205 and 156, respectively.

There’s also updated gear ratios for the six-speed manual transmission that should translate into a bit of added thrust; Hill Start Assist Control will be added to help prevent the car from rolling backwards on steep hills The 86 will also receive revised shock tuning and spring rates that should sharpen-up the car’s already impressive handling abilities a notch.

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