2011 Scion tC, iQ

Hey, kids! Scion has 2 new cars for you!

You wouldn’t guess it from the high-volume techno music or the frenetic visuals at the brand’s New York auto show press conference, but Scion is a brand that has been in decline. Sales have slumped as Scion’s products have aged (the newest is three years old)—not a good situation for a brand whose demographic, the industry’s youngest, is always chasing the new.

Scion, though, has new cars coming—two new cars, actually. So it’s understandable that Scion V.P. Jack Hollis was preternaturally geeked at the brand’s press conference.

The new tC coupe gets more power and torque; it’s also treated to its first redesign, which looks good, if a little like recent Kias. It will be at dealers—and, one assumes, various Scion-sponsored music happenings—starting this fall.

The iQ minicar, at only 10 feet long, will be America’s smallest four-place car when it goes on sale early next year. Hollis called it, “a Mini-er and more stylish vehicle,” which drew groans from the audience. The iQ’s 1.3-liter engine and continuously variable transmission will give it mpg figures “in the high 30s.” But, as with the Smart, that’s actually kind of disappointing when more conventional—and more spacious—compacts are able to hit the 40-mpg mark. For urban hipsters, the iQ’s ultra-compact size will have to be its own reward.

Of course, a press conference is no place for doubts. Indeed, describing Scion’s two new entries, Hollis declared: “They are changing the realm of youth car culture.” That’s a pretty big claim, considering that they had only been unveiled moments before. But hey, youth culture moves fast—as Scion well knows.


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