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Auto blogMon, 01 Apr 2013 18:31:00 EST
Scion is simultaneously celebrating its ten-year anniversary with the 10 Series models and trying to figure out what to do with itself over the next ten years. Once a go-to consideration for young, first-time buyers who wanted something cool and different, in 2013 it has a model everyone is still talking about in the FR-S, a model few are still talking about in the iQ, and three models in between in the tC, xB and xD that make everyone wonder, "What happened?"
Automotive News spoke to Toyota's North American CEO, Jim Lentz - he was the VP in charge of Scion when it launched - about the options, and Lentz said one of them could be a move upmarket to challenge the established luxury brands that are moving downmarket. "There's going to be a big need in the $25,000 range for a fun-to-drive, nice-looking, value-oriented product," he said, and the FR-S, which starts at $25,255, could provide the platform for Scion to climb up a notch or two in price and perception. An idea like this could conceivably work in tandem with a proposal to move entry-level Scion products over to the Toyota brand - but remember, this is all just ideas on a whiteboard at the moment.
As opposed to an "entry-luxury fighter," the brand could swing back to the other option that was considered when it was formed, directly challenging the Korean makes that have usurped its cachet with first-time buyers. Lentz said Scion could go either way, and the tone of the piece seems to indicate that the final direction is still a ways away from being resolved.
We've seen (and frankly reported on) so many rumors of more powerful and performance-focused versions of the Subaru BRZ, Toyota GT86 and Scion FR-S at this point that haven't materialized that, at this point, we're almost tired of them. Almost. But what we have here was enough to pique our jaded interests as only a carbon-bodied sports car on the Nürburgring could do.
What we're looking at is, well, we don't quite know, to tell you the truth. What we can tell is that it's a Toyota GT86 (Scion FR-S for us) wearing new wheels and a carbon-fiber hood, roof, racing-spec rear wing and subtle lip spoiler. The vents in the hood indicate that the prototype in question could be packing an upgraded engine to go with the lighter body panels and upgraded aero, and the interior (at least as far as we can see) looks pretty well stripped out.
The right-hand drive configuration tells us this is either destined for former territories of the British Empire or for the racetrack. Considering the ride height, full glass and apparent lack of roll cage, our money's on this prototype is being developed for the Japanese Domestic Market, where Toyota badges the sports car simply as the 86. We can always hope, though, that some version makes it into Scion showrooms in North America... we just won't get our hopes up too high.
Many Toyota vehicles haven't been performing well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) small overlap frontal crash test, and the Camry is one of them. The 2012 and 2013 Camry both received "Poor" ratings, IIHS' lowest rating, in the test, which spurred Consumer Reports to take the car off its "Recommended" list. In response to the low ratings in the small overlap frontal test, and in a bid to maintain its best-seller status, Toyota will make changes to the Camry to improve its IIHS safety rating and to enhance its design, The Detroit News reports.
The Camry performed well in the moderate overlap frontal, side, roof strength and head restraints and seats crash tests, receiving "Good" ratings, IIHS' highest rating, in all four tests. That was enough for IIHS to award it a Top Safety Pick rating, just not TSP+.
Bill Fay, head of Toyota's US division, reportedly says, "It's still a five-star car. It still does very well in all the IIHS tests. It did not in [the small overlap frontal crash test], and we're busy making the necessary adjustments so that we can address that."