Sunday, October 31, 2010

Toyota IST

Toyota has absolutely no plans to launch a Scion-type youth division in Japan – yet. Nonetheless, Toyota is now ready to roll with this fully redesigned ist, a compact urban crossover aimed at Japan’s very own brand of Gen Y fashionistas.

Yes, this is the Japanese-speaking version of America’s 2008 Scion xD. The quaintly (some would bizarrely) named ist gets a different front-end to the Scion. It also gets right-hand-drive steering and choice of both 1.5-liter (109 brake horsepower) and 1.8-liter (132 bhp) engines and optional all-wheel drive. Regardless of these differences, its mission to rev up the bottom end of the market is pretty much the same.

Taking an exchange rate of ¥118 to the dollar, the ist hits the road for $14,059-$16,907 in Tokyo and true to form, there’s already a factory-penned Modellista alternative version for those who like their ist looking a tad more funky and aggressive.

Will it fly? In Japan, the decision to shift the car upmarket and widen it (versus the 2002 original and Scion xA) may prove controversial, but of course, all that’s tied in with the perceived needs and wants of the U.S. market. (Toyota believed the first car was too small).

Sales ambitions are modest – just 2000 units per month – so consider this very much a niche player for the mighty Toyota machine. But as a package, is it cooler than the Scion? What do you think? Have your say in ‘Comments.’

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