This is the new Scion FR-S

Tonight we round out the new Toyota 86 with the launch of its third brand, the US-spec Scion FR-S, in Hollywood, California. Why have we been dedicating all week to a brand new car? Because the reborn Toyota hachiroku is one of the most important cars to be released in the last ten years. It’s definitely important for Toyota, possibly even more so than the Lexus LFA supercar, as it returns Japan’s automotive giant to its sporting roots.

But it’s also a return to the Japanese sports coupe ethos — dynamic, lightweight, RWD cars. We’re not only talking about the Celica 1600GT, TE27 Corolla Levin or AE86, but even machines like the SA22 Mazda RX-7, Sunny Coupe and Silvia.

Toyota honored its heritage by bringing out a rogue’s gallery of its greatest sports cars, mounted on platforms held up by forklifts (which were also Toyotas, naturally).

Scion VP Jack Hollis introduced the FR-S, acknowledging each of the great cars from Toyota’s long history.

The Toyota 2000GT provided some of the FR-S’s design inspiration, including the roof and C-pillar treatment. The Sports 800 was Toyota’s first sports car and shares its RWD and boxer configuration with the new 86.

That boxer is a joint design between Subaru and Toyota (who provided the direct-injection system), offering a 12.5:1 compression ratio. Like the Lexus LFA, the FR-S’s motor is mounted aft of the front axles for a front-midship layout. Interestingly, Hollis quoted a 200 horsepower number, three more than the 197 that’s been talked about for JDM 86 and European GT 86.

The FR-S then made its Rocky-Balboa-like introduction to thumping music and spotlights. We are happy to report that photos have not done the car justice. It looks great in in person and has great presence.

Of course, the FR-S’s closest cousin in the family tree is the AE86. Toyota has made much hoopla over the fact that has one of the lowest centers of gravity in the automotive kingdom, even beneath that of a Ferrari 458 Italia. This car is not about horsepower numbers, luxury or exclusivity. Like the AE86, it’s about going up to the mountains and carving up the twisties like a Thanksgiving turkey.

This core aspect of the car is still unknown. But it took dedication, defiance of corporate accountants and marketers and perhaps a president with vision who can fling an LFA around the Nürburgring like Akio Toyoda.

We’ll review a Scion FR-S soon, but in the meantime here are some superficial differences between it and the JDM 86. First, despite the fact that “86″ is not part of the model name at all, US-spec versions will still wear the 86 boxer fender badge like Japanese and European versions. It is all silver though, without any red showing through.

Inside, the cockpit has been designed for the driver. Bucking the trend of cars as electronic interfaces rather than modern day steeds, the steering wheel lacks any controls for the stereo. The climate controls differ, using the more standard dial variety, and the stereo is a Scion unit. Also you start the car via a more traditional ignition keyhole on the steering column, rather than an “Engine Start” button on the console.

With the third model come a third headlight treatment. It’s different from both the JDM 86 (no LEDs) and the BRZ unit (which has a completely different shape).

RC car maker HPI also debuted their new Scion FR-S shell.

And of course it wouldn’t be a Scion event without cool swag. Everyone got one of these rubber USB drives shaped like the 86 piston fender badge.

Scion also showed how a modified FR-S might look. It looks phenomenal in black, lowered on Rays wheels. And being a Scion, it will surely have a multitude of special edition Release Series versions.

Since the demise of the S15 Siliva, the only car to embody the Japanese sports coupe ideology isn’t even Japanese. However, compared to the FR-S the Hyundai Genesis Coupe is brutish, less svelte and lacks the 86′s focus on precision agility. This is more than sheetmetal. It’s about re-capturing the spirit of blending man with machine that’s been over the last decade. It goes on sale in spring 2012.

Photos by Dan Hsu.

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29 Responses to This is the new Scion FR-S

  1. mister k said:

    i like the understated dash that doesn’t encroach the cabin

  2. xs10shl said:

    Digging the modified black version. IMHO, the best of the versions I’ve seen. Hope that body kit becomes a reality.

  3. cesariojpn said:

    Anyone notice in the background of the first image that they have the AE92 rather than the AE86 on the banner? If their trying to go for an homage to the FR sporty coupes of the past, why a FF version thrown into the mix?

    • Ben said:

      Yeah, the 2000GT and Sports 800 are also mis-captioned. They need someone who knows classics. :)

      • Toyotageek said:

        That’s jus plain embarrassing. Someone should have caught that. They need someone that knows their own product and they need someone that checks these things before they make such dumb public mistakes…

      • Lincoln Stax said:

        All three cars on that banner are wrong in some way. That’s sad and hilarious at the same time.

    • Tyler said:

      How is it possible to screw up all three cars in their historical list?

      Whatever, the tuner version looks nice. They still need to change out the Altezzas.

  4. Yee said:

    It was an exciting event. Met a friend I haven’t spoken to in years, and he said this car is about the return of PASSION to driving. He also said that in about 16 years, when these are used cars, our children will benefit from them to keep the enthusiast culture going. An interesting perspective.

    We can debate all we want about paint jobs, tail lights, interior, names, wheels, etc…
    But the soul and real genius of the car has to be experienced…looking forward to the test drive.

  5. E-AT_me said:

    do want in white. the biggest selling point for me?? a real key!!! epic.. and no buttons on the wheel.. love it.

    • bert said:

      AHHHH, a real key! Takes me back to the days of cruisin round in my AW11, with the giant beaded lizard keychain bangin tween my legs every time I took a corner, listening to Hootie blowing some fish! Good times are back again!

  6. Nigel said:

    I’ll take the black one with a set of TRD lowering springs.
    First stop Mosport, then Watkins Glen.
    (Of course I need to wait for spring).

  7. Rick said:

    This car makes the tC irrelevant. To me at least. ;-)

    I can’t wait to test drive one. This could be the car that finally replaces my gen 1 xB.

  8. kingtoy said:

    Not a bad looking car, I like it. I am just glad they called it a Scion here instead of a Toyota.

  9. dave said:

    Perfect. Absolutely perfect. I love that they left the 86/boxer badge on the fender. Well done, Toyota! I’ll take mine in white, 6-speed, no options, hopefully w/ LSD

  10. bert said:

    So I should be seeing these at my Subaru dealer Early next year? I might try to sneek some unofficial pics with the SLR! The Subaru dealer could REALLY benefit from this, they only have about 20 new cars on their lot! The tsunami caught up with them a couple months ago, things have not been the same since!

  11. Lincoln Stax said:

    I’m totally sold. The only question is Scion FR-S or Subaru BRZ?

  12. Phillip said:

    What I don’t understand is why no Turbo? 197HP is not a sports car.

    • Ben said:

      Japanese sports cars have never been about pure horsepower. Lightness and handling are the key.

      Also, its motor is a brand new design…. yet the kept the engine mounts identical to that of the Subaru WRX STI. Hmmm….

    • Dan said:

      It’s actually pretty refreshing that Toyota/Subaru didn’t go crazy w/ the horsepower. With the LFA they proved that they can produce stupid amounts of horsepower, but to me this car is more pure. It speaks to the true enthusiast.

    • Lincoln Stax said:

      197 horsepower is not a sports car?

      Toyota 2000GT: 150 hp
      Datsun 2000: 133 hp
      Datsun 240Z: 151 hp
      Mazda RX-7: 100 hp
      Mazda Miata: 115 hp

      Yes, I know I’m comparing old cars to a new car, but Ben is right. Japanese sports cars have never been about pure horsepower. Although really, it’s true of all sports cars, not just Japanese. If horsepower is all you measure sports cars by, then what you really want is a muscle car. There’s nothing wrong with a muscle car. In fact a Dodge Challenger SRT8 is on my list of cars to buy when I win the lotto. But a muscle car is not a sports car. Not like the FT-86/GT-86/FR-S/86/BRZ whatever they want to call it.

  13. Kevin Truong said:

    What makes cars exciting is what we can do to them. If not, we’d all be taking the bus or riding bicycles. Heck maybe even just scooters and $hit. Nearly every forum of every make I’ve been on, all I hear is $hit talking. Hating. Guys that are really passionate about the art of tuning and driving cars, don’t talk at all. They just do it. I’ll give you one example. Honda. Civic. C’mon. Was it built to be fast? Or make “x” amount of horsepower? No. But guys have tinkered with them for years and turned them in to what they are today. There are cars built for straight line and there are cars for backroads enjoyment and this new GT86 is designed for it. Maybe 197 hp ain’t much, but I’d bet you can utilize every ounce of hp while going through the twisties, instead of riding on your brakes all the way through. Enough of the speculation. Drive one. No, modify one. And then let’s talk again. I’d bet things will be different a couple of months after it comes out. A year or 2 after would be even better when there are a whole slew of $hit to modify the GT86 with!

  14. jonnA said:

    I think a car like this is WAY overdue. I think Mazda has had a golden opportunity since the Miata debuted to make something like this. I’m glad Toyota had the guts to do it. I think this car will sell like mad but it will also bring people who would not buy it into the showrooms to see it. Those people may walk away in a new corolla, camry, etc. now we just need Mazda and Nissan to jump onboard!

  15. james said:

    Yes I agree that a true sports car is not about horsepower at all. It’s about dynamics and response and just driving- not numbers on a page. The miata and S2000 are great examples of this approach.

    But a true tuner car – the Hona Civic, being a great example – also has to do with affordability and accessability. Blue collar America is buying thier kids a 300HP STI… more likely the kid will inherit moms Yaris when she decides to upgrade to a newer one.

  16. 86Lim said:

    Although the AE86 looks really clean, it did not match the rest of the cars. What I mean by not “matching” is that it was the only one modified, the Levin front end was never available in the US, and the paint scheme was also never offered here in the US. Lastly, I think a hatchback/liftback would have looked more appropriate as the sporty AE86. Displaying a US version would fit the branding of Scion since it is a US market brand.

  17. Chris said:

    It should’ve been badged as Toyota Celica. Ironic that the Celica was the ONLY sports car missing.

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