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Toyota Supra May be Headed for Resurrection

Maker’s new chairman makes it a high priority.

by on Jun.12, 2013

The 1998 Toyota Supra was the last version of the sports car sold in the U.S.

Toyota’s long-lamented sports car, the Supra, could be headed for a revival, at least if the maker’s new chairman gets his way.

Produced from 1978 to 2002, the Toyota Supra once represented the pinnacle of the maker’s design and engineering capabilities, but it was pulled from production due to a variety of factors – leaving long-time fans calling for its return ever since.

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The loss of the Supra was, to critics, one more step backward for Toyota as it morphed into a plain vanilla brand best known for quality, reliability and boring green machines like the Prius. As the recent unveiling of a more stylish Corolla, as well as the introduction of the Scion FR-S sports car, demonstrate, Toyota is finally recognizing the need to put more passion into its products.


BMW-Toyota Sports Car to Debut in Tokyo

The goal is to “exceed all expectations.”

by on May.21, 2013

Senior officials, including Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda and BMW Chairman Nobert Reithofer, celebrate their expanding alliance.

What do you get when BMW and Toyota set down to develop a sports car? We’re apparently about to find out, their joint effort reportedly set to make its eagerly awaited debut at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show.

The midsize sports car is one of several projects that the German and Japanese automaker have announced as part of a growing alliance first announced in 2011. Among other things, the two makers plan to work on fuel cells, lithium-ion batteries and hybrid technology, while BMW is now providing diesel engines for Toyota to use in its European line-up.

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“I get so excited thinking about the cars that will result from this relationship,” Toyota chief Akio Toyoda said in January.

So do a lot of industry observers waiting to find out precisely what the two partners have in store.


Toyota Looking at New Supra – But Will it Be Electric?

MR2 Successor also reportedly in the works.

by on Nov.12, 2012

Toyota's FT-86 Concept II could serve as the platform for the long-lamented Supra. But might Toyota turn to Tesla to help develop a battery drivetrain?.

“Passion” is a word one hears a lot in conversations with Toyota executives these days, up to and including President Akio Toyoda, who points to recent introductions like the Scion FR-S and Lexus GS to underscore his intentions.

But it’s beginning to look like that’s just the beginning of Toyota’s performance aspirations, with new reports suggesting there could be at least a couple more performance machines on the Japanese giant’s horizons – notably in the form of all-new versions of the long-lamented Supra and MR-2 models.

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But, as the new FR-S demonstrates, Toyota may take a very different approach in bringing those – or other – performance models back to life. One very strong possibility is that it could turn outside for help, perhaps to the likes of California-based Tesla Motors to provide a battery-based drivetrain for a new Supra.


First Drive: 2013 Scion FR-S

Toyota CEO says he wants more passion and this new sports car delivers.

by on Nov.08, 2012

The Scion FR-S fills a noticeable void in the market - the affordable rear-wheel drive sports car with somewhat useful interior space..

In recent years, if you wanted a true sports car, your only choices were to accept a car based a front-wheel drive econobox or cash in your 401(k) to buy a real sports car putting its power to the rear wheels.

No more. Subaru and Toyota – a seemingly unlikely pair to create this car – got together to develop what is essentially the Holy Grail of fun cars – the affordable sports car.

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Think about it. Subaru, known for its variety of sensible all-wheel drive cars with just one performance-oriented model, the WRX, wants to build a car that is completely out of its element, a RWD sports car. Knowing it couldn’t justify the investment without a partner, the small Japanese automaker approached giant Toyota, known recently more for its fuel-sipping hybrids, but with a somewhat forgotten history of performance machines.

Together, they created a masterpiece, a car to be celebrated by everyone who enjoys driving, but wasn’t born with a trust fund in his mouth.


2012 Hyundai Genesis Coupe: Big and Sexy

But does the driving experience live up to the exotic looks?

by on Aug.30, 2012

The 2013 Hyundai Genesis has more power and more style.

There’s a lot to like about a powerful, somewhat rare, exotic-looking rear-wheel drive sports coupe. And did we mention that it’s relatively affordable?

It seems odd that Hyundai gave the coupe the same name as the four-door with which it shares a platform, the Genesis sedan. What all the other good names were taken?

But starting at just $24,250 with destination, the Genesis Coupe is a surprising value.

Details! Details! Details!

The coupe comes standard with the same 274-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo that makes the Hyundai Sonata a scream. The base engine is up 64 horsepower compared to last year’s model, and 74 more than the vaunted Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S. The test car had the optional 3.8-liter V-6 with 348 horsepower, up 42 horses compared to the 2012 model, mostly thanks to the addition of direct injection.

It’s too bad the V-6 sounds like a vacuum cleaner that ate a bag full of marbles. It’s not smooth, it seems as though it makes a lot of unrefined induction sound and the exhaust is boomy, not lusty.


Mazda, Fiat Team to Develop Next-Gen Roadster

Alfa Romeo to get version of next Mazda MX-5 Miata.

by on May.23, 2012

The MOU will create new roadsters for both Alfa Romeo and Mazda based on the next-generation, rear-drive Miata platform.

The push to partner up continues to sweep through the global auto industry, Mazda and Fiat signing a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding that will let them share in the development and production of an all-new roadster.

The MOU means Fiat’s Alfa Romeo brand will get its own 2-seater based on Mazda’s next-generation MX-5 Miata rear-wheel-drive architecture.  In a jointly released statement, the two manufacturers said the project is aimed at developing “two differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic and brand-specific light weight, roadsters featuring rear-wheel drive. The Mazda and Alfa Romeo variants will each be powered by specific proprietary engines unique to each brand.”

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The news from Fiat and Mazda underscores a dramatic shift in the global auto industry, even the largest and most well-funded manufacturers, such as the Renault/Nissan Alliance and Daimler AG, looking for joint opportunities to expand their product lines and improve economies of scale. The timing also coincides with the launch of new sports coupes developed through a partnership between Toyota and Subaru.


Scion Gets Your Drift

by on Jan.10, 2012

Scion will field a 600-hp version of the new FR-S in the Formula Drift series.

When Scion decided it wanted to take its new FR-S sports car out racing it decided it might not a few extra horsepower.  About 400 more to be exact, which is what it’s likely to take to  make the little FR-S competitive in the Formula Drift series later this year.

“Now we don’t expect that too many owners will take their FR-S to this level of extreme,” suggested Scion General Manager Jack Hollis, during a Detroit Auto Show press conference, “but we do know that like all Scion vehicles, it will be pretty hard to find one that is left stock.”

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Meant to honor the classic Corolla GT-S, which Hollis says was “known by its true fans as the AE86 or “hachi-roku,” which means 8-6 in Japanese, the new FR-S is the product of a joint venture between Subaru and Scion’s parent,Toyota – which will market the roadster in other parts of the world as the Toyota GT86.


First Look: Scion FR-S

American sports car aficionados get their own version of Toyota’s new 86.

by on Dec.01, 2011

Hours after unveiling the Toyota 86 in Tokyo, Scion shows off its new FR-S.

Toyota seems to be taking to heart the mandate laid down by CEO Akio Toyoda that it start pumping some passion into its products.  The Japanese giant had barely finished up the Tokyo Motor Show introduction of its new 86 sports car before its youth-oriented Scion division rolled out the all-new FR-S 2+2.

Of course, the two are one-and-the-same, barring the badging.  Toyota has decided to launch the American version of the sports car developed in a joint venture with Subaru as the new Scion FR-S.

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“Serving as a laboratory for Toyota, Scion is always experimenting with new things,” explained Scion brand boss Jack Hollis, during a preview at Hollywood’s Milk Studios. “The FR-S will no doubt serve as the halo car, expanding Scion into a new dimension of driving performance.”


Subaru Unveils “Ultimate” WRX STI Along With New Impreza Sedan, Hatch

Little maker makes big news at Tokyo Motor Show.

by on Dec.01, 2011

You'll need a big suitcase to bring the "ultimate" Subaru WRX STI S206 back from Japan.

While it’s understandable that most visitors to the Subaru stand at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show might focus their attention on the long-awaited BRZ sports car they’d certainly be making a mistake.

The little Japanese maker is making plenty of other big news – including the launch of the Impreza WRX STI S206 and two all-new versions of the mainstream Impreza line-up.

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The “ultimate” STI, sadly, will be offered in only limited numbers in the home market, but you can expect to see the next-generation Impreza G4 and Sport models in the very near future in most major markets.


It’s Official This Time: Subaru Reveals the Production BRZ

Is racing in the new sports car’s future?

by on Nov.30, 2011

Subaru's new sports car, the BRZ, gets its long-awaited introduction.

It may not have been the longest gestation in automotive history but it was beginning to feel like it, both Subaru and Toyota staging seemingly endless advance looks at the new sports car they’ve been jointly developing.

Now, the long wait has finally come to an end, the two Japanese makers staging separate news conferences at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show to reveal what their efforts have wrought.

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Despite some earlier indications, there’s relatively little difference between the Subaru BRZ and its step-sibling the Toyota 86 (which will be called the GT-86 in Europe and Scion FR-S in the States).  Stretch and you’ll spot some modest tweaks that offer slight distinctions between the two models.  But there isn’t much else to differentiate them – if that matters – beyond the Subaru’s bumpers and a side air intake that replaces an “86” badge on the Toyota.