Toyota’s freakish and young Scion brand shifts to conventional cars, ads

Article by Christian A., on May 1, 2012

For almost 10 years after Toyota introduced Scion with edgy music and eccentric vehicles, the sales of the sub-brand have declined far lower than their modest peak. Moreover, the customers of this youth-oriented brand are getting older. After a nine-month brand review, executives at Toyota are now targeting new automobiles at purchasers who are more conventional than the young ones who it chased at launch in 2003.

The FR-S, which is about performance, is a new sporty coupe that will arrive in showrooms in May. The iQ, which is a traditional low-priced econobox, went on sale in December. Even the advertisements are different. Rather than the edgy animation, which is now gone, the new rear-drive 200-hp FR-S is revealed in a commercial driving on scenic mountain roads as it drifts wildly through corners.

On the other hand, the iQ subcompact advertising highlights benefits and features, and not the supposed cool factor. In the meantime, the boxy xB compact, which is the classic Scion model, is on the bubble and may not be revamped. This model has been the bestseller of Scion for three of the last four years. Scion Vice President Jack Hollis related that they may not replace the xB by name, "one-for-one."

Executives at Toyota are saying that Scion has not re-evaluated and changed its original mission of catering to the needs of the young customers.

Hollis explained that he is not a "re-anything" kind of person, as a "relaunch means starting over." He further stated that instead, they take what they learned and move forward. The changing nature of the 70 million young individuals belonging to the Generation Y -- those born between 1980 and 1999 -- prompted the nine-month internal brand study.

In designing the new Scion FR-S, the company was inspired by the AE86 range of the Corolla and this was evident not only during development but was seen even as early as the planning phase. Known also as Hachi-Roku, which is simply Japanese for “8-6,” this coupe had a front-engine and rear-wheel drive configuration and while lightweight, was also excellently balanced.

This made it a good choice for many enthusiasts. With this, it is clear that the new FR-S can be considered as a genuine “scion” as it is a result of Toyota’s long history when it comes to both motorsports and performance cars. Much like the AE86, the configuration of this new model is part of its name which is Front-engine, Rear-wheel drive, Sport, or FR-S.

A genuine sports car with a rear-wheel drive, the FR-S displays exceptional handling and performance while displaying unexpected fuel economy and flexible utility, all placed in a vehicle that has a rather compelling style. Given the source of inspiration, the FR-S was developed with the aim of attaining what is called as “Pure Balance.” To make this happen, the company utilized what may well be the world’s sole flat boxer engine and then placed it in the configuration mentioned.

Because of its flat shape, plus the fact that it has a compact size, it made it possible for the engine to be mounted mid-ship allowing for a 53:47 front-to-rear weight ratio. This also meant it can be placed on a lower position resulting in a center of gravity lower compared to other exotic supercars on the market. Powering the FR-S is a four-cylinder 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated engine.

This particular engine was a product of the collaboration between Subaru and Toyota. It was Subaru that brought in the horizontally opposed engine while Toyota contributed with the highly-advanced D-4S injection system.

Unlike other injection systems, the D-4S combines the port injection and direct injection in each of the engine’s cylinders. The port injector is placed on top of the intake valves while the direct injection pumps fuel straight to the vehicle’s combustion chamber. While the D-4S is indeed new for the Scion range, it has been seen previously under the Lexus IS F.

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