A relative newcomer to the Canadian market, Toyota’s Scion brand has been a favorite of youthful car buyers in the States since 2002. While Toyota’s core brand is often aimed at a more mature, less outgoing clientele, Scion is aimed squarely at a younger, more fun loving crowd.
Recently, The Garage Blog had the opportunity to take in an advanced driving school and lapping session with the ladies from Sweetie Girl Racing. My chariot for the day was a cool little red xD and there were a couple of other Scions on the track that day as well. This group of 2 xD’s and a tC showed exactly why the tuner crowd love the brand and how easy it is to set one car apart from another.
First and possibly most important is price. The chunky looking 4 door xD starts at just $17,200 here in our market, while the more sporting and more luxe tC begins at $20,850. Such a low cost of entry, mated with some funky style, means that potential owners can afford to think about making their Scion their own. The easily modifiable nature of the entire product line means that Toyota has a fun factory on their hands!
My driver for the day was a base model with a 5 speed manual transmission, steel wheels and hubcaps. In most cases, that equipment wouldn’t generate a whole heck of a lot of excitement except that this little skater had a TRD performance exhaust system on it instead of the stock super quiet version. Not only does the free flowing system add more low to mid range power from the 1.8 l 4 banger, but it also allows for a rather serious sounding exhaust note. One simple mod makes this car infinitely more exciting to drive.
Another journalist at the track that day was also driving a base xD. This was the magnetic grey metallic one in our gallery. See a difference? Yup, it had the stock exhaust, but was fitted with 18″ TRD alloy wheels and higher performance tires. I didn’t drive this one, but visually it looked more stable through the corners as one might expect with the upgraded wheel & tire combo. Again, just one simple, relatively inexpensive change gives the car a dramatically different look and driving experience.
The good folks at Woodbine Scion brought along a stunning, black 2011 Scion tC that had been treated to a healthy dose of goodies from the TRD catalog. A TRD exhaust similar to the one on our tester boosted horsepower and torque a bit, while making the tC sound a bit more racy than stock. This version was also sporting TRD springs and wheels. The wheels were wrapped in Michelin’s new Pilot Super Sport tires. This combo took an entry level performance 2+2 and turned it into an ultra confident track weapon. Michelin has done a great job with the Super Sport, as the tire handles a wet track as if it were dry, while handling like a dedicated dry tire as the sun comes out. Even better, the SS offers a comfortable ride on the road that is a perfect match for the performance tuned TRD springs.
While most tuner enthusiasts car more about style over function, the xD offers function in spades. Although it covers a small footprint, it allows for enough space to actually seat 5 humans in relative comfort. Personally, I found the driver’s seat could offer a bit more support. Then again, I’m a really big guy and this is a $17,000 car. We have to keep this stuff in perspective. Out back, opening the hatch reveals a cargo area that would be more than large enough to handle a couple of hockey bags.
While Toyota’s marketing wags will go to great lengths to jazz up the consumer about how cool the Scion brand is, the truth is that perhaps they should be promoting the most basic reality of the brand. The concept behind Scion is to build a product that is cool enough for the tuner crowd, that they can grow into as they get married and have kids. As they are ready to move upwards, if the dealer body has done their job, those consumers will slide into the more mature Toyota brand. How does one market the progression of life as being cool? If I knew the answer to that, I would be very rich!
As a Forty something Father of 3, I still don’t think I’m quite ready for a Camry or Corolla, but I would tweak the daylights out of an xD so I could use it for lapping days, but still take the fam camping!