Once one of the industry’s most innovative marques, Scion is struggling to find its former magic. And Toyota’s youth-oriented brand is hoping its come up with the right formula in the form of the C-HR Concept making its debut at this week’s L.A. Auto Show.
Likely to show up in production form next year, the C-HR would become Scion’s first crossover-utility vehicle. And while it might seem a major shift in direction, the sleek and angular concept is meant to become Scion’s “next icon,” replacing the boxy xB.
“Scion is known for doing things differently, and maybe even being a little weird,” said Andrew Gilleland, who recently was named the brand’s vice president and general manager. “This C-HR Concept embraces that idea and wears it like a badge of honor.”
Scion certainly could use some help. The brand hit a 2006 peak with sales of 173,000 vehicles, but by last year that plunged to just 58,000, and it hasn’t done much better so far this year, though it seems to be gaining some traction with two new models, including its first-ever sedan, the Scion iA.
The move into the crossover segment seems almost absurdly late in coming considering broad industry trends. Utility vehicles, overall, will outsell sedans this year, and the compact CUV segment is one of the fastest-growing niches worldwide.
(Scion teases new concept — likely brand’s first SUV. For more, Click Here.)
“Scion’s crossover concept will play in a compact SUV segment that’s opened its arms to a mass migration of consumers and models,” says Edmund’s Analyst Jessica Caldwell, adding that a production version of the C-HR would follow “Recent launches of the iA, iM and FR-S (which) have given Scion a completely different lineup compared to a few years ago.”
The concept’s name is short for “Compact High Ride height,” says Scion, adding that the vehicle would target “yuccies,” or “young urban creatives.”
Whether they will welcome the design or say, “Yuck,” remains to be seen. The Scion C-HR is clearly following the mandate set by Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda to put more “passion” into the company’s products, even if it means polarizing potential buyers. The C-HR offers Scion’s take on the angular and decidedly controversial NX offered by its upscale sibling brand, Lexus.
(Click Here for a review of the new Scion iM.)
Scion was clearly out to make a statement, and suggests the C-HR concept is like “a diamond with sheered sides,” its cabin “like a precision-cut gemstone.”
The show car is rife with hard edges and angular cuts, accentuated by graphite black accents on its grille, rear bumper and fender flares, as well as its piano black roof. The concept crossover rides on 21-inch alloy wheels with chisel-cut spokes.
Significantly, the show car is based on the new Toyota New Generation Architecture, the same platform used for the 2016 Toyota Prius.
Set to be used as the foundation for the majority of the maker’s future products, that underscores the face we will soon see the Scion C-HR return in production trim. The maker hints that will happen sometime in 2016.
(To get TDB.com’s first impressions of Scion’s first-ever sedan, the iA, Click Here.)
Scion officials aren’t offering technical details yet, but C-HR Chief Engineer Hiro Koba said that, “Even though the C-HR has a high ride height, our focus was on creating a fantastic urban driving car.
“My favorite place to be on a weekend is at a race track,” he added, noting that, “I wanted to build a car that I would have just as much fun driving in the city during the week with refined driving comfort and responsive, precise steering.”