The Toyota FT-86 has been showing up on the auto show circuit for the past couple of years. Now the production-spec machine is set to make its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month.
In advance of the Tokyo premiere Toyota’s UK division recently released the first official photos and some initial specs. In Europe, the car will officially be called the Toyota GT 86. In the US, however, it will be a part of the Scion family and dubbed the FR-S. While in Japan, the car will be known simply as the 86.
The Scion FR-S (aka. the GT 86 and the 86) will be the world’s only current sports car to feature a front-mounted, horizontally opposed engine and rear wheel-drive. It will be Toyota’s most recent entry in its 50-year sports car heritage going back to the 1962 Sports 800 and the sleek 2000 GT straight-six that made its debut at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show. This is a heritage that also includes four generations of the Supra, which also came with straight-six engines and rear-wheel drive and culminated in the MR2 which was recognized as one of the best handling sports cars in motoring history.
The real inspiration for the FT-86 concept, however, was the Corolla GT (or Levin) AE86, a classic front engine, rear-wheel drive, limited slip differential configuration sports car introduced by Toyota in 1983. The Corolla AE86 was a classic drift car suited to rally racing and drifting motor-sports. For this reason, it became hugely popular with Japanese street racers called “Hashiriya” who would take the car through mountain passes and the tight corners that so suited the AE86. Many auto enthusiasts refer to the AE86 by its Japanese name “Hachi-Roku,” which translated means “eight-six”.
The Scion FR-S (Toyota 86) is Toyota’s effort to re-engage with driving enthusiasts after discontinuing vehicles like the Supra, Celica and MR2 a few years ago. It’s important to note that Toyota describes the car as a sports car that has been “designed by passion not by committee”. Purists have griped that the bean counters have taken over Toyota in recent years and the company has over-focused on producing reliable, but vanilla cars that appeal to the mass market. Judging from all the chat-room buzz and the FT-86 clubs out there, the diehards are already fully engaged.
In addition to its front-mounted engine and rear wheel-drive, this entirely driver-focused sports car will feature a low center of gravity and an excellent power-to-weight ratio. Built on an all-new platform, the Scion FR-S (Toyota 86) will have a highly aerodynamic body with a near-perfect 53:47 front-to-rear weight distribution. Both the driving position and the power-train have been set as low as possible for the best balance. The driver’s hip point will be the lowest of any current Toyota model. Low curb weight combined with a suspension that features MacPherson struts in the front and double wishbone at the rear make it easy for drivers to push its nimble handling and cornering potential.
The Toyota 86’s engine is a joint venture between Toyota and Subaru (with a little Yamaha thrown in for extra measure. Yamaha has long been a partner in engine design with Toyota going back to the GT2000). Toyota added its D-4S fuel injection technology to Suburu’s new, horizontally opposed 2.0 liter four-cylinder boxer engine. The D-4S injection system features twin injectors for both direct and port injection and a high 12.5:1 compression ratio, increasing power and torque across a wide acceleration range without sacrificing fuel economy or environmental performance. Just like earlier Toyota sports cars, power to the rear wheels is distributed via a limited slip differential to give the best possible grip on all road surfaces. The ABS and switchable vehicle stability systems have been tuned to precisely deliver stability and performance with minimal electronic intervention. The Toyota 86’s handling is so precise that Edmunds.com called the Scion FR-S “the Scion that slides”.
The 200 horsepower 2013 Scion FR-S should more than re-engage Toyota buyers into the world of sports cars. Since it will be a Scion you can bet there will be loads of customizable accessories. Its well-engineered lay out and usable engine power will actually make driving fun and affordable. The FR-S will definitely be worth the wait!
- 2.0-liter boxer with D4-S injection (direct and port injected)
- 197 hp @ 7,000 rpm and 151 lb-ft (205 Nm) @6,600 rpm
- 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions
- 17-inch wheel/tire package standard
- 4,240mm (167 in.) long, 1285mm (50.6 in.) high, 2,570mm (101 in.) wide
- 53:47 front-to-rear weight distribution
- 475mm (18.7 in.) center of gravity
Sources: Toyota Pressroom, Autoblog, The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), http://driftjapan.com/blog/
wikipedia, Edmunds.com, http://www.ft86club.com, https://www.frs-scion.com/, FR-SForum.com