After teasing us with a shot of the new iM Concept a few weeks back, Scion has pulled the covers entirely off the new model it will be bringing to the Los Angeles Auto Show next week.
It may be a concept in name, but expect to see the Scion iM found a place in the maker’s line-up in the very near future, as part of a new product push designed to rebuild its once-formidable image among young trendsetters.
And perhaps the most intriguing detail in the news release that accompanied this image is the fact that Scion isn’t trying to come up with a fancy euphemism. Toyota’s youth brand is calling the iM exactly what it is, a “hatchback.”
“The iM Concept is a five-door compact hatchback with sporty looks inspired by those seen on the European touring car racing circuit,” it notes. “The concept brings in captivating styling with edgy, geometric grille inserts, deep air intakes and fog lights. The custom-blended “Incrediblue” paint is complemented bymatte silver and gunmetal accents.”
(Click Here for a first look at the Cadillac ATS-V coming to the LA Auto Show next week.)
For years, manufacturers have tried to find alternative ways of describing hatchback body styles, and perhaps for good reason considering three and five-door designs simply didn’t click with American buyers – even though hatches have become one of the hottest body styles in Europe and other parts of the world. Perhaps, as that one-time scion of youthful taste, Bob Dylan, might put it, “the times they are a’changin’.”
“The tastes of today’s younger buyers have evolved. They want a car that provides excitement and individuality, as well as the comfort, technology and reliability that Scion offers,” suggests Scion Vice President Doug Murtha. “The iM Concept combines sleek styling with the versatility of a modern hatchback to catch the eye of Scion customers. Stay tuned for more on how we will bring this vision to the road.”
(Click Here to check out the three new models Porsche plans to reveal at this year’s LA Auto Show.)
Scion has a lot riding on the iM and other new models to follow. The brand built its early reputation by focusing on quirky products targeting non-traditional market niches, such as the boxy xB. But recent offerings – including the latest remake of the xB and the iQ microcar – have frequently missed the mark and Scion’s sales and image have suffered as a result.
The iQ and xB will be going away, with a production version of the iM almost certain to follow within the next year. Significantly, Scion is abandoning its original strategy of offering just three models at any one time – a change first signaled with the arrival of the FR-S sports car, one of its few recent successes.
Scion could use the shake-up. Only a few years back it was considered among the hottest brands in the market. But Scion has lost significant momentum in recent years and was one of only a handful of brands to see sales slide during the first half of 2014.
As to what could follow the iM, Scion’s legal team has filed for trademark protection on a number of new two-letter, a list also including iA, iD, tD, tK, tR, tS and tZ. That does not mean they will all eventually be used for concept or production models. But we’d be surprised if a fair number of these don’t show up in showrooms in the not-too-distant future.
(Ford places a big bet as the new aluminum F-150 pickup goes into production. Click Here for more.)