The Scion C-HR concept is as polarizing a design as we’ve seen so far at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show. Provocative, evocative and controversial are some words that come to mind when surveying this diminutive crossover. It’s an SUV that comes in smaller than the Toyota RAV4, but will wear Scion badging when it debuts.
Notably, that manufacturing decision has already been made as Toyota announced that a production version of the Scion C-HR will debut in 2016.
The Scion’s subcompact concept offers a familiar look to industry watchers. Its grand debut came at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, where it was originally cast with two doors and a hatch. At the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, an updated version of the concept was shown with rear doors added. Following the Frankfurt presentation, Toyota promised that a full production version would launch at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show next March.
From Toyota Concept to Scion Reality
Today, we learned that the C-HR will wear Scion badging, at least in North America. It’ll fill a hole in the Toyota/Scion line and slot beneath the RAV4. The new model will enter the growing subcompact SUV segment, where most of Toyota’s competing brands offer models like the Nissan Juke, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, Chevrolet Trax, Fiat 500X and Honda HR-V.
At its official world introduction in Los Angeles, Scion made a case for a model that may go far in advancing the youth-oriented brand. Scion Vice President Andrew Gilleland says, “Scion is known for doing things differently, and maybe even being a little weird. This C-HR Concept embraces that idea and wears it like a badge of honor.”
The Expanding Scion Line
If you find that the C-HR name doesn’t easily roll off your tongue or make sense, you’re not alone. The Scion brand has a penchant for using naming conventions that are unconventional — the September dual release of the Scion iA subcompact sedan and the Scion iM compact hatchback are the most recent examples of model names that aren’t especially easy to remember.
As for the C-HR, it stands for Compact size and High Ride height. Scion claims that it is the perfect model for “yuccies,” or young urban creatives, which is the same group of individuals who influenced the concept.
Indeed, Toyota gave its young designers license to create a vehicle as they pleased. These were the same professionals who said, “Polarizing is ok. Boring is not.” That thinking yielded the initial concept as well as the permutations that followed.
Inspiration From Unlikely Sources
As for its visage, the C-HR’s designers took inspiration from several very different, if not divergent sources. Polished chopsticks composed of recycled materials, a cutting board with grid lines and an unsophisticated, but state-of-the-art, terrarium provided the needed impetus to develop the new Scion.
From there, the designers went to work and took further inspiration from a diamond with sheered sides to lay out the cabin. From above, the SUV’s exterior outline is evident in the various diamond points sharply cut in the front, rear and sides, which effectively highlights the round fender flares that are conspicuous from every angle.
On closer inspection graphite black accents are evident on the grille as well as across the fender flares, rear bumper and lower side panels. These embellishments amplify the concept SUV’s stance. Other standout features include the all-piano black roof and the oversized, 21-inch wheels with gem-like accents.
Technical Specifications Pending
To be sure, Scion left out a lot of the technical specifications surrounding the vehicle, although we can surmise that a small four-cylinder engine, such as something similar to the 1.8-liter engine powering the Toyota Corolla is one possibility. Offer a six-speed manual and a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and you have a logical starting place. Nothing was said about a possible hybrid variant, which would be a first for the Scion brand.
More likely, we’ll see something entirely new from Toyota as the Scion C-HR is based on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) that allows for the development of new platforms and powertrains. Each model derived from TNGA will feature a lower center of gravity, improved body rigidity, sharper handling and enhanced overall stability.
One more thing you can be certain about when the Scion C-HR is released: Just like other Scion models, it will be mono-spec (one specification) and come well equipped with your choice of transmission and front- or all-wheel drive. Upgrades will likely be available as dealer-installed accessories. That’s been a recipe for success ever since Toyota launched Scion in 2004 and what should help this small, urban SUV find its place in the market.