Thursday, June 24, 2010

Scion speculation: What will the next xB be? (Maybe the bB?)

By now, you might know that one of my favorite rants (e.g. beating a very dead horse) is the up-sizing of the xB, and no, I'll probably never get over it. This is a vehicle that went from subcompact icon to a much larger, heavier, and thirstier (read: bloated) vehicle in 2008 when it was redesigned. Although it might be a bit early to speculate on the third-generation xB, I'm going to speculate anyways, or at least have a running monologue.

In 2004, when the xB debuted, we still hadn't hit the global economic downturn and xB sales were surprisingly good up until 2006. If anything, it was at least proof that a subcompact tall wagon could be a hit in the U.S. Then, in 2008, the global economic downturn hit, just as the second-gen xB was being launched. Unfortunate for Scion (and everyone else in the auto industry, for that matter). This begs the question: Is the current xB a slow seller because of its redesign, or simply due to the economy?

But let's look ahead to the next generation xB, which I assume will be either a 2012 or 2013 model. So will Scion go big again or purposely downsize the vehicle?

If you look at the current lineup, you've got the new tC about to drop; the Yaris-based xD; (which replaced the xA); and the new iQ (A-segment/microcar) debuting soon. So what is Scion to do about its flagship xB model?

I think there are three options. The first two are re-dos: Import a Japanese domestic market vehicle like they did with the original xB, or, design a vehicle more suited to the U.S. market (ala the current xB, although it is sold in a few other markets). The third option is to build a global vehicle (ala Toyota Yaris) that is sold everywhere in the world.

Personally, I'd love to see another JDM-like xB that is small, fuel efficient, and practical, just like the original version. (Current bB anyone?). If I want something larger and want to stay with a Toyota, I'll get a Matrix. If I want really small, I'll get an iQ. This is the perfect opportunity to rekindle the original love affair I had (and many others had) with the first-gen xB.

What direction do you think the next generation xB should take? Sound off in the comments section.


D2M said...

I think...

That the vehicle needs a face lift. If they can get something in between a Cube and a Soul look-wise they'd be doing good. (Going too boxy will just look like a rip-off of the Cube at this point.)

I think going smaller would be a bad idea. You can't make a car bigger and then go "Ooops, sorry!" and make is small again. I think that'll confuse consumers.

What they ought to do is keep it the same size but make everything about it better. Giving it a newer more fuel efficient engine would be a great start.

Honestly, the xB has potential. Bigger isn't always bad, even in the subcompact world, if it's done right. The problem is their 2nd Generation xB wasn't done right.

nlpnt said...

The biggest problem I see is that there's no space between the new xB and the Matrix-they're both funky, C-segment 5-doors that try to defy categorization and don't quite succeed. Likewise, the xD isn't quite enough of a WJT to distinguish itself from the far-from-bland Yaris.

My suggestion would be to replace the Matrix with the JDM Corolla Fielder (which is unmistakably a Station Wagon with capital letters); bring in the Auris (Corolla 5-door hatch) as a new "big" Scion; and either the new Ist or something similarly offbeat as a small 5-seater.

Unknown said...

having owned a 2005 xB manual I vote something JDM. they took a chance the first time doing so and it worked in their favor. I loved my xB it was a great drivers car and had very polarizing styling that many of the current jdm city cars have.

Anonymous said...

I'm right there with you. I wish Scion would have stuck to their message from the beginning and I will never get over the xB2.

I hope for something small like the original xB but I am not very optimistic on it.