Toyota is swinging for the fences with its upcoming redesign of the Toyota 86, with designer Tetsuya Tada promising some huge changes for the sports car, which was formerly sold under the Scion nameplate in the U.S.
The Japanese automaker is keeping its cards close to the vest with regard to the next generation of the Toyota 86, but Tada has offered some tidbits about potential changes to the sports car in recent interviews.
Tada appears to have ruled out simply turbocharging the 86, and has been non-committal about whether incorporating an electric motor is a viable option. Tada has said that the next generation of the 86 may not have a boxer engine, a feature the current model is known for.
Tada has also hinted that the new Toyota 86 will be lighter than current models. In recent years, carbon fiber technology has come a long way, and automakers are also having success in using aluminum in auto bodies to reduce weight. The new 86 could make use of some of these innovations to reduce its weight and perhaps even hit the one-ton figure set by the Mazda MX-5.
It’s also uncertain when the new generation of Toyota 86s will appear at Toyota dealerships. The Japanese automaker has given the current generation of 86s a facelift, and Tada has said it may be three to four years before a redesign is complete.
What is clear is that Tada is preparing to make some bold changes to the Toyota 86. Tada has said changes are needed to help keep the 86 competitive with other sports cars produced by Toyota’s rivals. The eventual redesign of the 86 will help it make a clean break with its past as the Scion FR-S, and establish a new legacy of performance and reliability under the Toyota brand.
A Toyota 86 by Any Other Name …
The Toyota 86 was jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru. The sports car is marketed under several nameplates worldwide, and offers features such as a boxer engine, front mid-engine, rear wheel drive, and 2+2 seating.
The history of the Toyota 86 dates back to 2007, when Toyota debuted its FT-HS concept car at the Detroit Motor Show. The vehicle had many of the features of the modern 86, including rear wheel drive and 2+2 seating. Toyota purchased 16.5 percent of Fuji Heavy Industries, which gave it an ownership stake in Subaru. After the purchase, Toyota partnered with Subaru on the sport coupe project and developed the D-4S boxer engine that powers the current model of Toyota 86s. Subaru initially had misgivings about the project, but good reviews of the new engine and a concept vehicle convinced Subaru to stay the course.
Toyota and Subaru’s collaboration resulted in a new concept vehicle, the FT-86, which debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in late 2009. The new concept vehicle was smaller than the FT-HS and incorporated the D-4S boxer engine into its design.
A few more concept versions followed, and the Toyota 86 launched at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show. Production began that year, with 7,000 orders placed for the Toyota 86, and 3,500 orders placed for the Subaru version of the 86, the BRZ.
In time, the 86 was marketed in Asia, South Africa, North America, South America, and Australia as the Toyota 86. In Europe, the vehicle was badged as the Toyota GT86. In some parts of Central America, the vehicle was sold at Toyota dealers as the FT86. Subaru marketed the vehicle worldwide as the BRZ. Here in the U.S., the Toyota 86 was marketed as the Scion FR-S until 2016, when Toyota shut down the Scion brand. The future of the Scion FR-S was uncertain for a time until Toyota announced its continuation as the Toyota 86.
The Boxer Engine Explained
Boxer engines, also called flat engines, are engines that have horizontally-opposed pistons. Boxer engines usually have cylinders lined up in two banks on the left and right sides of a single crankshaft. Boxer engines have the advantage of providing a low center of gravity for vehicles, which can reduce body roll and make them handle more precisely.
Not many manufacturers are using boxer engines today, but in the past a variety of automakers, including Volkswagen, Citroen, Ferrari, Ford, Benz, and others produced vehicles with them. Today, Porsche, Subaru, and Toyota products are the most prominent example of boxer engines in use.
Facelift for 2017 Toyota 86
Toyota made a number of changes to the Scion FR-S for its debut in Toyota dealerships as the re-badged 86. Both vehicles shared the same engine, but Toyota made some changes to the gear ratio in the manual transmission versions of the vehicle. These changes gave the vehicle a small boost in horsepower.
There are also a number of aesthetic differences between the FR-S and the new Toyota 86 vehicle. The Japanese automaker slapped a larger front grille on the vehicle and also redesigned its bumper. The automaker also made some changes to the vehicle’s headlamps and turn signals.
Inside, Toyota also made some tweaks. Toyota used its new “Grandlux” soft touch material on the 86’s door trims and in the instrument panel area. The 86 also has new, better quality upholstery, which can come with silver stitching. Toyota also included a new sportier steering wheel that includes audio control and increased the size of the vehicle’s paddle shifters for the automatic versions of the 86.
The 86 isn’t the only Scion vehicle Toyota is repurposing. Toyota is also rebranding the iA as the Yaris iA, and the iM as the Corolla iM. The CH-R crossover will join the Toyota line-up in 2018.
2016 Scion FR-S
The 2016 Scion FR-S was the last Scion version of the Toyota 86 before Scion’s parent company rebadged the vehicle. The last Scion FR-S received positive reviews for its nimble handling and good safety ratings.
The 2016 Scion FR-S is powered by a 2.0 liter boxer engine that generates 200 horsepower and 151 lb. ft. of torque. In tests, the FR-S accelerated from zero to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds – an impressive performance. Driving is the main attraction of the FR-S. The nimble sports car zips around corners with ease and offers an enjoyable drive to owners.
The FR-S is a safe sports coupe. The vehicle received a perfect five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for overall crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also gave the FR-S a “Good” rating – its highest rating – for moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact, roof strength, and whiplash protection tests.
Both the 2016 Scion FR-S and the 2017 Toyota 86 are fun sports cars for drivers who want an attractive vehicle with few interior frills. It remains to be seen what Toyota will incorporate into the design of these vehicles’ next generation successor. Toyota has an excellent track record of creating innovative, reliable vehicles, and the next generation of 86s will likely carry on this proud tradition. Consumers can also be assured by the participation of Tetsuya Tada, a well-respected auto designer who has worked for Toyota for nearly 30 years.
For car consumers in Los Angeles interested in the Toyota 86, North Hollywood Toyota offers a convenient and easy car-buying experience. With a knowledgeable sales staff and helpful finance department, the North Hollywood Toyota dealership can help consumers find the best value for a new or pre-owned vehicle, and the right financing deal to pay for it. Visit today and test drive a Toyota 86 or other quality automobile.