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Scion FUSE and the Future

Styling Exercise Takes Sport Coupe in a New Direction
At the 2006 New York auto show, Scion showed a new take on the sports coupe concept, melding a small coupe body with a silhouette vaguely reminiscent of the Chrysler 300. As with other New York introductions, AutoPacific and VehicleVoice correspondents were on hand. The FUSE has a high beltline that seems to rise as your eyes travel the length of the vehicle. Though the FUSE deck is nowhere near as pronounced as that on the 300 and FUSE sports a much shorter nose, FUSE reminded us of what the 300 might look like if you just chopped a large section of the middle of the 300 out.


Scion described the FUSE as a styling exercise. Its purpose at auto shows is to evaluate consumer and public reaction to the exterior shape as well as the cool tricks it plays inside. We may well see a shape along these lines in the Scion range at the end of the decade, or we may not. We found the blend of tall sedan silhouette, short nose, that the rear quarter panel hints there is a trunk instead of a tailgate, and that there very little of a traditional sporty coupe in its presence or profile created an intriguing package.

California Designers
FUSE was developed at Toyota’s CALTY design studio with Scion’s Advanced Product Strategy Team. The goal was to create “the” new Scion sports coupe icon by giving it a more sinister looking package, which they seem to have successfully pulled off with a dark look, deep-set headlamps, and unadorned but aggressive face. FUSE embraces clean surfaces and bold proportions, and looks as much imposing as sporting, though much if its inspiration is from the HAKU super GT race cars in Japan. The massive rectangular air intake at the moment is just for show, but it means to hint that there is a large intercooler behind it. The wraparound windshield provides a panoramic view and was inspired by racing helmets. (Another concept on the 2006 show circuit, Saab Aero-X, carried a wraparound windshield inspired by a jet plane canopy.) In the rear, wide-body flares surround deep-set vertical taillights. There is a tailgate to complement the butterfly-opening side doors.



For exterior lighting, lots of tricks and LEDs were pulled out. Headlights and foglights can be programmed to light up in different colors, LEDs housed in the twenty-inch wheels served as turn-signal indicators, and LEDs around the dual exhaust served as rear foglights and reverse lights. An LCD screen hidden behind the front badge can be pulled up to show videos. Inside, there is accent lighting on seats, doors, and overhead lining.

One Plus Stuff
The interior of the FUSE is designed to give the driver an intense driving experience and make the passengers feel they’re in an intimate atmosphere, following a theme of “one plus stuff”. The high beltline is used to accent the imposing exterior as well as support this interior theme. The driver’s seat is positioned at the apex of an asymmetrical pentagon surround.

Being a concept car, the FUSE takes video and drive-by-wire to extremes, all easily controlled using a touch control board. The board, designed to look like a telephone, also controls music and HVAC systems. The interior can be configured for driving, playing video games or watching videos, hauling cargo, or tailgating.
In video mode, the front passenger’s seat is folded down, creating a table or footrest, driver’s choice. With two 10.5-inch monitors in the media station/dashboard, passengers can watch a movie and play a video game, or use the WiFi connection to instant message, or any combination of these. When put to driving mode, video screens turn off and the driver gets a multi-info display instead.

The cargo mode has two uses. While the front passenger seat and rear seats fold for a flat surface when stuff needs to be carried instead of the four passengers FUSE can accommodate, there is a mode for those looking for a place to have a party away from the homestead. When in park, the tailgate converts to a bench seat and rear speakers fold out and the rear center console’s dual function as a detachable drink cooler starts to make more sense.

Proving the designers have a sense of humor underneath the purposefulness of this entry, the butterfly doors and the rear tailgate are opened by touching a small key-shaped sensor.

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