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.
“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.”
The brand clearly needs the new front-engine, rear-drive FR-S. Like the other Toyota brands, Scion was hammered by product shortages in the wake of Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami. But it was struggling before that as recent products – such as the second-generation xB and tC failed to stir much passion.
Modeled after the classic Toyota AE86 sports car – with Toyota ceding much of the key mechanical development to Subaru – the new 86/FR-S appears to be reasonably well captured by the new Scion tagline: Pure Balance. It’s engine is low mounted and pushed rearward to enhance its center of gravity and weight distribution.
The FR-S will share the same 2.0-liter boxer-four powerplant that will be found in the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ. It makes 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft of torque – which should be plenty for a vehicle weighing in at around 2600 pounds.
“We all know that it’s not hard to make horsepower and torque, but it is hard to do all that and still achieve impressive fuel economy,” Hollis said. “The FR-S accomplishes all three.”
The 2+2 packaging should satisfy those hoping to hold down insurance costs but for practical purposes the Scion FR-S will likely function as a 2-seater – but one with plenty of cargo space when the back seats are folded over.
Subaru is expecting to see a strong interest among club racers and it would surprise few if Scion targets the same potential buyers.
There will be only modest exterior differences — largely to the face of the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ — and a few inside.
(Click Here for more on the Subaru BRZ.)
Pricing hasn’t been released yet, though the new Scion FR-S will be aiming to directly compete with the Mazda Miata, which will put the emphasis on “affordable.” Speaking to reporters, Scion chief Hollis suggested the price tag should be under $30,000, hinting, “The first digit will be a two.”
Look for the first cars to start rolling into showrooms next spring.