A model like the xB was always going to be a love-hate proposition, and indeed, the subcompact sharply divided opinion because of its its t-square styling and funky stance back when it was introduced in 2004. But enough buyers fell enough with its good qualities – remarkable space efficiency, solid fuel economy, ease-of-driving and low pricing that the xB sold surprisingly well, in the process becoming something of a totem for the brand. The second-generation model, which bowed for 2007, seemed to alter all the things that made the original so endearing: the xB grew substantially, had the uniquely sharp corners of its design chamfered off, and it gained more power without adding much in the way of performance because the vehicle had been so radically upsized. Fuel economy dipped, too, as did the xB's popularity with shoppers. Last year, Scion only moved about 17,000 examples – in its heyday, the xB sold over 60,000 units.
A couple of years ago, Jim Farley, Ford's vice president of global marketing, told Autoblog that Scion's intent wasn't to be a youth brand at all – it was to be an experimental division, an incubator for product and marketing techniques. Farley, as you may recall, was one of the driving forces behind Scion, ascending to the role of its vice president before being reassigned to Lexus. By Farley's yardstick, perhaps Scion had pushed the xB and xD as far as they could go, and now it's simply time to test new vehicular hypotheses. Indeed, more recent models like the tiny iQ and FR-S coupe show the brand experimenting in bold new directions... exactly the sort of innovation we can get behind.