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First Look: Toyota 86

Americans will see the results of new alliance with Subaru marketed as the Scion FR-S.

by on Nov.30, 2011

Toyota finally reveals the production version of its new sports car - to be called 86 in Japan and Scion FR-S in the States.

Nearly four years in the making, Toyota has finally pulled the wraps off the 2-seat sports car it has developed as part of a joint venture with the smaller Japanese automaker Subaru.

Targeted at the small, affordable sports car niche now dominated by the long-lived Mazda Miata, Toyota will call the new model the Toyota 86, a reference to the maker’s legendary AE86 Corolla of the 1980s.  The sports car will actually go by a variety of different names.  The Japanese will also know it as the Hachiroku, while it will go with the moniker Toyota GT-86 in Europe — and appear under the Scion FR-S badge in the States.

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Whatever you prefer, the 2-seater is a low-slung design that was developed as part of a tandem effort that appears to have put the emphasis on Toyota design and Subaru technology – such as the so-called 2.0-liter boxer inline-four engine both manufacturers will share.  But the lines are a bit blurry, insiders stress, Toyota, for example, reportedly kicking in its fuel delivery system.

Subaru's version, the BRZ, shares most design features with the Toyota 86/Scion FR-S.

As with the Miata, the raw numbers won’t overwhelm, the powertrain churning out  197 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque – delivered through a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic with paddle shifters, with a limited-slip differential handling torque distribution to the rear wheels.

But considering the Toyota 86/Scion FR-S will weigh in at around 2,600 – varying slightly by market – that should be enough to put what the maker’s CEO Akio Toyoda called the “fun-to-drive” factor back into the 2-seater.

Actually, the new offering is technically a 2+2, something that could score a buyer bonus points with the insurance company but don’t expect to see many folks clambering to get into the back, which will likely be better suited to groceries or a small suitcase.

A more detailed look at the Toyota 86 nose.

There are subtle differences between the new Toyota and the Subaru BRZ, but mostly on the front end.  The side apertures are essentially identical – no surprise considering that’s the most costly part of a vehicle when it comes to stamping out sheet metal.  The face of the 86 features a large, low-mounted grille, tapered headlamps that sweep into the fenders, and a pair of creases that frame and flow back from the Toyota badge.

A flowing crease rising off the rocker panels gives a curvaceous character line to the side view with the rear of the vehicle – which measures barely an inch shorter than a Nissan Z-car – distinguished by an integrated spoiler capping the afterburner style taillamps.  In Japanese trim, the model debuting at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show features 17-inch wheels and a neat 86 piston logo on the front fenders.

An official Toyota pic provides a closer look at the rear of a European model badged GT-86.

There’s a bit more inside to distinguish the Subaru and Toyota offerings, the 86/FR-S featuring an oversized white tach with a digital speedo.  Look for an array of high-tech features, from navi to Bluetooth, though it remains to be seen what will be offered as standard or optional equipment once the Scion-badged FR-S crosses the Pacific.

The Toyota brand-within-a-brand will be providing more information during a California news conference, later this week, at which time we could learn more about such niceties as pricing.  Meanwhile, expect to see both the Scion FR-S – and the Subaru BRZ – reach U.S. showrooms early in 2012.

 

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