Even though it was only in the marketplace for 13 years, Scion has done some great things for the automotive industry… and some really bad things, too.
The company that brought us affordable coupes and funky box-shaped cars has officially been killed off, with its models being integrated into Toyota’s lineup. While that won’t mean much to the average car shopper since the vehicles are still being sold, a lot of the things that Scion as a brand embraced will be gone. Outside the Supra, Toyota isn’t exactly known for exciting, trendy offerings, but rather safe and reliable sedans like the Corolla and Camry.
That means the things that made Scion models exciting will likely fade away, from cool concepts to embracing the aftermarket tuner scene. We decided to take a look back at Scion’s history, picking out the best and the worst things the brand has brought us over the years.
Best: Scion FR-S
If you looked over Scion’s entire model lineup over the years, the only vehicle that truly stands out for enthusiasts is the FR-S. At the 2012 SEMA Show, the Las Vegas Convention Center was filled with modified FR-S coupes from wall to wall. In fact, the trend continued overseas in Japan, where the model is known as the Toyota GT86. Even at the Tokyo Auto Salon, the rear-wheel-drive sports coupe was a favorite among Japanese tuners.
One of the things the Scion brand did right from Day One was its willingness to embrace the tuner community. Over a decade ago, dealerships frowned upon modified cars rolling into their service centers, but Scion was one of the few automakers that welcomed it. One example of this is when the bright yellow Scion FR-S above by Meguiar’s debuted at the 2012 SEMA Show; many Scion faithful say it inspired the Release Series 1.0 model.
Worst: Scion iA
At the complete opposite end of the spectrum is the new Scion iA, introduced last year, serving has an entry-level sedan for the brand. Essentially a rebadged Mazda2, the Japanese automaker rolled out some wacky creations in time for the 2015 SEMA Show. But considering Mazda axed the Mazda2 in North America, it’s a surprise that Scion decided there would be a market for the Scion iA.
Hopefully we won’t have to see a Scion iA Release Series 1.0 inspired by the lowrider-themed project seen above. As unique as the project is, we don’t need its influence trickling down to dealerships – especially if it sports a Toyota badge.
Best: Scion iM Concept
When the Scion iM concept debuted, enthusiasts were pleasantly shocked. Aggressive styling up front gave the hatchback character. And even though the wheels were aftermarket and it had a lower stance than what you would typically find on a production car, the iM didn’t look all that bad. It was one of the more exciting concepts Scion had put out in recent years and gave the brand a bit of life in what had become a stagnant lineup.
Worst: Production Scion iM
But then the production Scion iM debuted and all excitement for the model was lost. We get it, concepts are designed to be exciting and production models are normally tamed down a bit, but the iM got really tamed down. Fitted with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 137 horsepower, the iM isn’t even exciting on paper, especially when you consider how many competitors are turning to turbocharged powerplants. Known as the Toyota Auris in Europe and Japan, the Scion iM could have taken advantage of the brand’s youth-oriented branding with a more exciting design. In other words, Scion could have taken a risk and it might have paid off.
Best: Scion Fuse Concept
The Scion Fuse concept debuted at the 2006 New York Auto Show, at a time when the brand was still young and very exciting. Embracing the tuner aftermarket, Scion had built a reputation for its willingness to take risks and the Fuse concept got people excited for the future. Except the concept went nowhere, and none of its styling elements or design features ever trickled down to a production model. In addition, the Fuse was built by Five Axis Models, which was a great partner for Scion in the early years. Five Axis was also responsible for building some great concepts including the DJ Scion xB and convertible xA. Even though the company has some goodies for the FR-S, it has since focused on Toyota’s premium brand for wild concepts, leaving Scion to be boring all on its own.
Worst: Scion Hako Coupe Concept
If the Fuse was Scion’s way of showing off an extreme version of its Scion tC in 2006, then the Hako Coupe concept was taking the boxy xB to a whole new level in 2008. Unfortunately, it was as if the automaker took everything that was cool about the Fuse and made it uncool, resulting in a Scion xB that looked like it got stung by hundreds of bees. The idea of a two-door xB isn’t even a bad one, but it clearly went nowhere since the model ever went into production. Thankfully.
Best: First-Generation Scion tC
Love it or hate it, the first-generation Scion tC did its job well. The bubbly coupe was an affordable sports car despite being front-wheel drive. The aftermarket embraced it, and TRD even offered a supercharger for it! From bumper to bumper, the tC looked great and fit the demographic well and it’s hard to believe that at one point, it was one of the most popular cars among tuners and aftermarket manufacturers. It even had a strong presence in sport compact motorsports with drag car variants and drift tCs storming tracks all across the nation.
Worst: Second-Generation Scion tC
And then the second-generation Scion tC arrived and it was a bit of a head scratcher. Instead of a sloping, curvy body lines, Scion decided to go entirely flat up top, giving the tC an awkward, angled design. The headlights also got more rectangular and the overall design incorporated more sharp lines than was arguably necessary.
Sales of the Scion tC paint a better picture at the demise of the coupe. At its peak in 2006, the company moved 79,125 tC coupes off dealership lots in the U.S. That number dropped dramatically in 2009 when it sold just 17,998. The second-generation model, which was introduced as a 2011 model year in late 2010, didn’t help much in reviving sales. In 2011, Scion sold 22,433 units and last year only 16,459 sold.