It’s the perfect day and the perfect road for a brisk mountain drive in the siena red Z3. For the last time this year it’s easily warm enough to put the top down—in a little over a week the remnants of Hurricane Sandy will bury the area in snow. WV15 winds tightly along a mountain ridge, flanked on each side by peaking fall foliage. Valleys far below on each side, you’re on top of the world. There’s only one problem with this soul stirring picture: my father started the day closer to Cass, and the BMW is holding me up. With the next brief straight I snick the firm, short-throw shifter into third, spur the boxer well over 4,000 rpm, and roar past him. WV15 is an even better road for a Scion FR-S en route to meet up with a pair of Mazda RX-8s for our Third Annual Appalachian Road Trip.
We’ve already looked at the FR-S, but I came of car-driving age just minutes before the heyday of the Toyota AE86 and, by God, I’m going to write about any car that claims to be an homage to the car that stands as the ’55 Chevy of Japan. So, I got on the horn with Toyota PR: “Hey, Moe, it’s Murilee Martin. Yeah, that Murilee Martin. Listen, I’m heading out to the East Bay next weekend and I need something that won’t embarrass me when I need to out-donut the Glasshouse Caprices at the sideshows in Oakland, know what I’m saying? Sure, the FR-S sounds good!” Read More >
[Editor's note: TTAC does not review cars, TTAC reviewers do. The reviews can be as different as the reviewers are, and they voice their opinions independently. Due to the high interest the FR-S has received, we put a whole squad of TTAC reviewers into the car, and we are not done yet.]
Alex’s initial look at the pre-production Scion FR-S had a few feathers getting ruffled in the comments section. Then came Derek’s discussion of the hype surrounding the car and his own disappointing drive, and even more feathers were bent askew. Now Jack’s had a go at dissecting the FR-S on the track (his natural environment, if not the car’s), and it’s basically been like firing chickens into a snow-blower.
So, while the little Toyobaru sits in the middle of crossfire of angry verbiage that is like, so totally not what usually happens around here, I’ll belly up to the bar. We’ve had the launch event, we’ve had the track comparo; I had the FR-S for a week to evaluate it as a daily-driver, and one thing right off the bat: Read More >
“This car,” Derek Kreindler told me as we grabbed third gear down Toronto Motorsports Park’s front straight, “is like a GT-R for a guy who lives in his mother’s basement.” He had a point. Some American subcultures practice what I think of as immobile ambition — think of all those McMansions with no furniture and a double-income couple anxiously hoping someone will stop by and be impressed by the bridal staircase and crown moldings. Other subcultures are all about getting out in the street and showing off your clothes, your ride, or your woman. Read More >
In our second installment, we take the Scion FR-S to the track, along with the heavier, but more powerful Hyundai Genesis 2.0T and its spiritual antecedent, the Mazda MX-5. Oh, and there are special guests from Japan and America.
Scion has had a sordid past. Originally, Scion was Toyota’s solution to a lack of 18-25 year old shoppers. Over the past 9 years however Scion has lost their way and lost their youth. Their median buyer just turned 42. The tC coupe, which started out as a car for college kids, now has a median buyer of around 30. Scion claims the FR-S is a halo car – to me, that means the FR-S will be bought by older drivers (who can actually afford it), attracting younger buyers to their showrooms. Despite being out of the target demographic, Scion flew me to Vegas to sample the FR-S’s sexy lines to find out.
The Scion (nee Toyota) IQ may be a very small car, but we’ve treated it like big news here. Alex Dykes took an an early look a few months ago. Michael Karesh turned his lens on the IQ in a Take Two. So far, we’ve been cautiously optimistic.
Why review it again? Simple. The IQ is arguably the proper spiritual successor to the original Mini: a packaging miracle which could define the way a large segment of humanity drives in the future. In a market chock-full of retro pastiche and style-over-substance, the IQ is that rarest of things: a truly new automobile, packed throughout its ten-foot length with original thinking.
In this test, we’ll swerve around a bit, race an old woman in a Bentley Turbo, consider who the buyers for this product will actually be, and introduce the IQ to the car which could wind up being its Nemesis. Snuggle up to the asymmetric dashboard and let’s go.
Scion is quite sure of one thing: the new iQ is a much better car than the smart fortwo. What they’re much less sure of: how many of the targeted fine young North American urbanites will buy one rather than periodically use Zipcar. I’m neither young nor urban, but I’m going to do my best to pretend. Why might I buy this car—or not?
It will come as no surprise to regular TTAC readers when I say that Scion has had some sales issues lately. But instead of euthanizing the brand as some on TTAC have suggested, Toyota has decided to take a different route. Thankfully, rather than creating more me-too models based off of US-market Toyotas, the plan includes some JDM/Euro models and the much anticipated “Toyobaru “sports car. The first object of foreign desire landing stateside to start off Scion’s resurrection is the Toyota iQ micro-car. The iQ should be in showrooms across the country soon, but does Scion have the IQ to make a smarter Smart?
Toyota has had a problem lately: aging clientele. While some marketing firms will try to reinvigorate an aging brand with flashy new commercials and risqué advertising campaigns, Toyota decided to create a whole new brand in 2002 targeting Generation X and Y: Scion. Since the generations at the end of the alphabet are short on cash but long on youth, value pricing is the biggest draw for the Scion brand. Therefore it should be no surprise that the average age of Scion shoppers isn’t as low as Toyota could have hoped: old people like a bargain too.
Anarchy in the TTAC! It turns out that Michael Karesh and I both got invited to short-lead Scion tC press events. His review is found here and nicely covers things like the sound system, recent sales numbers, and the American economy. It’s so comprehensive that I didn’t feel the need to attend my press preview.
I did, however, feel the need to pay my bookie, so I am dutifully submitting this piece to offset a small amount of my personal debt. If you are not in the mood to read two reviews of this car, I have helpfully summarized my review in one sentence, posted “before the jump” for your convenience:
Given sufficient velocity and violence of application, it is possible to set the brakes on fire.
Eager to connect with twentysomethings, Scion has sponsored over 2,500 cultural events. Nevertheless, sales are far off their peak. Apparently free doom-metal concerts can only accomplish so much when the target customer can’t find a decent job. Or is the product the problem? Apparently Scion thinks so, as it’s forecasting praying that a redesign of the tC for the 2011 model year will double the model’s sales. (Which, if accomplished, would still leave them at half the 2006 peak.) So, might these prayers be answered?
Big changes were afoot in the Scion back in the summer of 2007, as the brand’s pioneering crop of Yaris-based funkmobiles gave way to a second generation of models aimed at expanding the brand’s appeal to American consumers. Oddly enough, the biggest changes came for a new model with an unchanged name: in a single generation, the the tiny xB went from freaky, fuel-sipping urban runabout to a bloated, Camry-based beast. In contrast, the less-successful xA underwent a far less radical change as it morphed into the xD, saving it from the initial scorn of Scion purists and keeping the brand’s Yaris-based roots alive. Not that the xD has been in any way rewarded for staying (relatively) faithful to its brand’s mission: like the xA it replaced, the xD has never sold better than its larger, less brand-faithful stablemates. Which begs the question: is the xD a bad car, or was the original vision of a funky, urban micro-car brand a dead-end dream? Read More >
“Hot enough to boil a monkey’s bum!” I don’t know exactly what that means, but it was that hot in North Texas the afternoon I picked up my 2008 Scion xB. How appropriate that the old Flying Circus reference should flash through my mind; the xB looks like something out of a twisted Terry Gilliam animation. Now that Graham Chapman resides in an urn, all of the Pythons could fit in the xB, although 6’4” tall John Cleese would be uncomfortable in any seat. But the newly redesigned boxy Scion is more than a surreal comic sketch. Or is it? And now for something completely different…
2008 Scion xB Take Two Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 3/5 Stars
The Scion brand has turned to face some strange ch-ch-changes over the last model year. The bento-box-on-wheels xB was re-fashioned for American tastes, exchanging hip Nipponese style for porky gangsta chic. And now the xA, the mini-minivan-shaped thingie that somehow (unfortunately) captured the spirit of the orthopedic Toyota Echo, has been axed. In a break with ToMoCo’s tradition of maintaining model names, Scion has decided to replace the xA with the xD, a mini-CUV-shaped thingie with bad ‘tude. Go figure.
Scion xD Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars