The announcement came this morning in a speech at the Center for Automotive Research

The announcement came this morning in a speech at the Center for Automotive Research

News of a Toyota-Subaru joint sports car project has inspired mixed feelings - trepidation on the part of Subaru owners that loathe Toyota's influence, yet also hope for Toyota fans that long for the days of the Supra and Celica, or even the AE86 Corolla and MR2. Now word that the car will be branded as a Scion in the U.S. has emerged, and it makes sense as the logical home for a car targeted at the younger generation.

In the U.S., the Scion tC is considered by many to be the successor to and continuation of the Toyota Celica, which ended its run in 2005. Bringing the new, RWD sports car to the Scion lineup could inject some much-needed life and also allow Toyota to imbue the car with a bit more 'personality' than finds its way into its more mainstream offerings.

News of the possible Scion-branding comes by way of AutoWeek.nl, which also hints the move could be part of a larger plan to expand Scion. Remember that the iQ is also expected to be marketed under the Scion brand name in the U.S. Adding the co-developed RWD sports car to the mix brings Scion a step closer to being a nearly full-line brand in its own right.

Styling of the Scion lineup is sufficiently diverse that the familial characteristics pinned to the sports car will likely be limited to cosmetic elements such as the front and rear bumpers - easily replaced in the aftermarket. Since it will be a jointly-developed car, it will have to serve double duty as both a Subaru and a Toyota, meaning the core of the car will be somewhat neutral in design.

Toyota will handle the design of the car, while Subaru will handle the engineering, however, so the hopes of Toyota fans for a hard-driving sports car may be fulfilled. Early spy shots of the car project a profile lightly reminiscent of the AE86 coupe. With a horsepower rating of about 220hp (164kW) in the RWD base model, the car is targeting the tuner market much like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Also like the Genesis, the Toyota/Subaru is expected to feature a 300hp (224kW) flagship that may even get AWD.

The car also bears some resemblance to the current-generation Impreza hatch and sedan, especially at the front of the canopy. That fact aligns conveniently with earlier rumors of a coupe version of the Impreza due to arrive around the same time as the Toyota version of the joint sports car. That car, too, is expected to be available in both AWD and RWD versions.

Whether or not the talk of Scion-branding holds true, expect the joint sports car to launch sometime in late 2010 or early 2011 with a price tag starting under $20,000.