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What's Next for Scion?

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Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion division introduced two new models — the 2016 iA sedan and iM hatchback — at the 2015 New York International Auto Show, injecting a lot of life into a brand that’s been fighting flagging sales; where does Scion go from here?

The FR-S could live to see another generation, but don’t expect a convertible or turbocharged version of the current car, Doug Murtha, Scion’s group vice president, told Scion quashed such rumors last November to the dismay of performance fans nationwide. Murtha said he wants a convertible badly, and the FR-S’ structural rigidity could easily accommodate it. But he couldn’t drum up enough support.

Related: Why I Can’t Buy a Scion FR-S (Even Though I Want To)

Subaru, which partnered with Toyota to build the FR-S’ Subaru BRZ twin, had no interest in a convertible, Murtha said. Nor did Toyota’s networks in China or Europe. Timing played against the car, too: An FR-S droptop would have to come midway through the current generation, and there wouldn’t leave enough model years to recoup the development costs in sales.

It would have been “such a big loss that we couldn’t advance the case for it,” he said. Similarly, packaging and costs prevented the automaker from developing a factory turbocharger or supercharger for the FR-S.

Murtha still dreams of one, though. If Scion had a supercharged FR-S convertible, “there would one in my garage,” he said. “I went down swinging.”

Well, there’s always the next FR-S.

Originally, “there was a one-generation commitment” to the car, Murtha said. But “from what we understand, there are very encouraging signs that both companies [Toyota and Subaru] are willing to make a commitment” to a follow-up.

What won’t be back is the brand’s quirky box, the xB. It seems odd that Toyota is pulling the plug on the xB, a car that’s defined Scion for most of the brand’s 12-year existence. Murtha says it was “dumb luck” that Scion scored a hit on the first-gen xB, a rebadged Toyota built for Japan’s narrow streets. “There were a lot of cold feet on that product.”

Today, “the box has run its course,” Murtha said, though he hopes the new iM hatchback will be “enough of a product proposition” to give xB customers an alternative. The car’s last model year is 2015, and Toyota has no plans to redesign it or its overseas counterpart, the Toyota Corolla Rumion.

Still, Murtha wouldn’t close the door shut.

“Is there a place [for the xB] in the lineup again?” he added. “Sure, that would be on the wish list.”

“I’ve always said there really isn’t a product category I’d turn my nose up on,” he said. “My druthers would be to have more products that don’t fit simply into existing segments.”

Photo of Kelsey Mays
Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey Mays

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