Auto blogWed, 12 Nov 2014
After dropping a teaser image on us a few weeks ago, Scion has revealed in full the new iM Concept it's bringing to the Los Angeles Auto Show next week. As expected, the concept is clearly a rebadged version of the Euro-market Toyota Auris, only with some "European Racing Circuit Styling" upgrades to make it look more aggressive.
Along with the Scion logos, the five-door hatch is treated to a deeper air dam flanked by angular vents with stacked fog lamps, beefed-up wheel arches linked by widened side sills and filled with 19-inch, anthracite-finish alloys on low-profile rubber. Vented brake discs and four-piston calipers join an adjustable suspension as show-worthy equipment upgrades.
The sporty treatment continues around back with a similarly aggressive rear bumper and roof spoiler. Even the wing mirrors are replaced with narrower units. Little wonder it's all done up in a shade Scion calls "incrediblue" that looks rather similar to what sister-brand Lexus would put on one of its F-branded performance models - or for that matter what corporate ally Subaru would put on an STI hot hatches like the WRX.
A brand like Scion is sort of a natural fit here at SEMA, what with the customizable schtick that it's trumpeted since being born in 2002. We've already seen some weird takes on the xB, but SEMA's magic wand has once done interesting things to the FR-S, seen here in a quartet of concepts.
Something that kind of piques our interest is this roofless, let-the-sun-in FR-S, but not in a way that we've seen before. Tuner Jeremy Lookofsky of Cartel Customs put the two-tone, topless FR-S together, and his creation also features an all-metal wide body with an integrated rear spoiler. It's decked out in a unique Azzuro California Blue (looks pretty beachy to us) and includes upgrades like a louvered rear window, 19-inch wheels, a center-mounted exhaust, big ol' turbo kit, KW coilover suspension, upgraded brakes, and a super-powerful audio system.
Also featured in FR-S land is the 10th annual Scion Tuner Challenge, in which three tuners received $15,000 to modify the coupe, taking cues from the Release Series 1.0 that debuted earlier this year. The three cars were done up by Super Street magazine, GT Channel, and Speedhunters. A panel of judges will look at the customs and a $10,000 grand prize will be given to the winners.
Scion certainly isn't afraid of taking a step into the bizarre at this year's SEMA Show, with at least two concepts that are probably the last thing you would expect from the brand.
First, the company is taking a step back into the 1970s heyday of custom vans with the Scion x Riley Hawk Skate Tour xB seen above. It's painted in an eye-popping shade of orange with an oh-so-retro white, yellow and card red stripe running down both sides. The fenders are connected by a streak of brown, and there's a pop-up skateboard holder on the roof in a matching color scheme to the rest of the body. The Cragar-look wheels trimmed in raised white letter tires and the throwback mirrors really sell the period look. The interior is similarly decked out in disco-era touches like shag carpeting, woodgrain trim and brown leather. In a nod towards the modern, there's a Pioneer media center in the back.
If the xB is too sunshine-feel-good for your style, then the Scion x Slayer Mobile Amp tC goes for an angrier vibe, with inspiration from the heavy metal band Slayer. The exterior is inky black with airbrushed skulls running over each side and the band's crossed-swords emblem on the hood. The motif is carried to the wheels with their blade-shaped spokes. When the custom's suicide doors open, you find a massive Pioneer sound system with a tower of speakers inside that should be loud enough to deafen anyone tempted to turn it up to 11.
The timing is perfect. Really, Scion couldn't have done any better, unveiling the latest member of the Scion tC Release Series - number 9.0, a stylish black-and-orange looker - barely a day after the San Francisco Giants, whose color scheme is black and orange, won the World Series. Also, one day before Halloween.
The Scion's well-timed color scheme is the product of Jeremy Lookofsky of Cartel Customs. The company's styling treatment also includes the custom body kit and orange seatbelts.
The Release 9.0's two main performance enhancements include a center-exit exhaust and TRD lowering springs. Beyond that, though, the changes are largely aesthetic. Black wheels, accents and badges round out the exterior changes, while the cabin features orange contrast stitching on the steering wheel and seats and orange paint on the dash and shifter surround.
The Scion brand seems to be a bit rudderless in the auto industry at the moment. The company just doesn't seem to know what audience it wants to appeal to. For this year's SEMA Show in Las Vegas, the automakers is kind of just going wild with bizarre customs like a turbocharged FR-S with a targa top (pictured above).
Taking the roof off of a FR-S isn't an entirely new idea, but this targa-top version at SEMA is certainly a new take. In addition to just chopping a panel out of the roof, the custom also adds a louvered rear window in an especially cool touch that lends an '80s coupe vibe. To take the wild look even further, the car wears a bespoke wide body kit with an integrated rear spoiler and center-mount exhaust, and all of the bodywork is done in metal. Being for the premiere aftermarket show, performance also has to play a role, and the upgrades include a Greddy turbo kit, coil-over suspension from KW and big brakes from Wilwood.
If the FR-S seemed just slightly inspired by the '80s, the xB for the show goes for a look that's a decade older with inspiration from '70s conversion vans and skateboarding. With design help from skateboarder Riley Hawk, the custom is painted in shades of groovy earth tones with bubble windows in the rear, and the cargo box on the roof stores skateboards. The interior features touchstones of the time with a mix of wood-grain trim, shag carpet and comfy brown leather.
When the doors open at the LA Auto Show in a few weeks, Scion will be on hand to showcase its new iM Concept. But considering what little Toyota's youthful brand has revealed about the concept so far, it's led to rampant speculation. And the prevailing wisdom seems to point towards a production iM arriving as a Scion-badged version of the Toyota Auris.
For those unfamiliar, the Auris is to European (and other) markets essentially what the Matrix is (was?) to ours: a hatchback version of the Corolla. The model line was first introduced in 2006, looking in its first iteration like an overgrown version of the contemporary second-gen Yaris, and was replaced with the current model in 2012. It's available as a five-door hatch or wagon, with a range of gasoline, diesel and hybrid powertrains available.
If the rumors - spurred by the similarity of the iM concept's nose depicted in the teasers - prove accurate, and public reception to the idea ends up spurring Toyota to put it into action, it wouldn't be the first overseas Toyota brought over as a Scion. The Scion iQ was sold as the Toyota iQ overseas years before it arrived here.
The Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Survey (right) is out, and the top two spots look much the same as last year's list with Lexus and Toyota in first and second place, respectively. However, there are some major shakeups for 2014, with Acura plunging eight spots from third in 2013 to 11th this year, and Mazda replaces it on the lowest step of the podium. Honda and Audi round out the top five. This year's list includes six Japanese brands in the top 10, two Europeans, one America and one Korean.
Acura isn't the only one taking a tumble, though. Infiniti is the biggest loser this year by dropping 14 spots to 20th place. Other big losses come from Mercedes-Benz with an 11-place fall to 24th, and GMC, which declines 10 positions to 19th.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's not traditional mechanical bugs hauling down these automaker's reliability scores. Instead, pesky problems with infotainment systems are taking a series toll on the rankings. According to Consumer Reports, complaints about "in-car electronics" were the most grumbled about element in new cars. Problem areas included things like unresponsive touchscreens, issues pairing phones and multi-use controllers that refused to work right.
Thoroughly cleansed of our time at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, we can now start looking forward to the next big show on the circuit (with all due respect to SEMA), the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. One of the earliest new cars slated for LA is this, the Scion iM Concept.
Now, these teaser images don't show us terribly much. We can see the headlights, foglights and wheels. The little information we can glean indicates that, based on the short hood and minimal space between the front door and front axle, the iM will be a very small vehicle. That said, a very low ride height (and Scion's own press release) claims this will be a rather sporty offering. The concept's nose and grille, meanwhile, bears some resemblance to Toyota's most recent stylings.
We'll have more when the iM Concept debuts in LA on November 19. Until then, check out the pair of teasers and the official press release, available below.
I was in Nashville last weekend for a friend's bachelor party. It's all rather fuzzy, but I do recall that my friends and I found it hilarious to request Slayer every time one of the country groups on the Broadway strip asked for a specific song to be played. While there were a few good sports, most didn't find it too funny, largely because country music and Slayer don't mix all that well. Actually, Slayer and a lot of things don't mix too well. Like Slayer and Scion, Toyota's slowly withering youth brand.
This mish-mash hasn't prevented the Japanese budget brand from teaming with the metal group for a concept vehicle based on the tC coupe (shown above). If the Slayer link is a bit too extreme, Scion has a more mainstream xB, styled by skateboarder Riley Hawk on the way. Both new vehicles will be shown at the upcoming SEMA show, but Scion has opted to release a pair of sketches of both aftermarket creations ahead of the Las Vegas expo.
It's hard to tell what kind of exterior changes have been made to the tC, although Scion says the cabin now boasts a 32-inch monitor, as well as a heavily revamped stereo. As you can see, it will say "Slayer" on the door, in the band's stylized script.
If you're familiar with Scion, you likely know all about the Release Series special editions, and back in April, the automaker showed us the first RS example of its FR-S coupe. At that time, we knew the price would come in somewhere "under $30,000," and while that's technically true, the final number is a whopping ten bucks below that $30k mark. Yep, the yellowest Scion can be yours for $29,990, not including $770 for destination.
Only 1,500 of the FR-S RS 1.0 coupes will be made, all fitted with TRD lowering springs, a quad exhaust system, TRD steering wheel, HID headlamps with LED running lights, a TRD shift knob, pushbutton start, black seats and, of course, that aero kit. The $29,990 price applies to cars that use the six-speed manual transmission. If you want the automatic, be prepared to shell out $31,090.
Scroll down for more details about the special Scion. And if the super-yellow coupe isn't really lighting your fire, you can always opt for its Subaru sister, in a lovely shade of blue.