2011 Tokyo Motor Show: Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Unveiled

The Tokyo Motor Show is under way and we were on hand to bring you the first live, in-the-flesh shots of the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ, as well as initial reports on what it actually feels like to sit in the driver’s seat.

The show has downsized from its former home of Makuhari Messe to the smaller Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba. In fact, the whole show was very subdued, not like the previous extravaganzas, but certainly not as dour or depressing as the last show in 2009 in the wake of the global economic collapse. With the Toyota release underway and a thousand people crowding the booth, we skipped the crowds and visited Subaru instead.

The Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ are quite small cars — snug seats with a very small steering wheel. The paddles and other controls fall nicely to hand though — even for a tall (185cm) guy like our man on the scene Skorji. The seat might be a bit squishy for the generously proportioned, but the BRZ is screwed together really well, with a really nice finish and feel to it overall.

Toyota only had one burnt orange 86 off to the side, whereas Fuji Heavy had two — the blue on stage, and a glorious matte semi-pearl on its own dias stage front. Toyota seemed to have it as an afterthought, while Subaru was definitely more proud.

The interior is good. Obviously still a Japanese car and kind of a design mish-mash with no overall theme. But, it still felt nice. The seats in particular are finished very well. Some of the other surfaces, perhaps less so. But, this car is not designed to compete with high end Europeans. It’s an entry level, fun, Japanese car. A job that, we might add, it looks very capable of doing!

The motor’s bore and stroke, curiously, is a perfectly square 86 x 86 mm. Coincidence? Yes, but a nice one. Notice that the intake plenum says both “Toyota” and “Subaru” on it.

Subaru also displayed a wild, 300-horse BRZ built for competition in the Super GT series. It reads “Proud of Boxer” on both nose and tail.

Lexus had the LFA on display, and we spent a lot of time talking to one of the design managers who was very proud of the work they’ve put into the machine. We were crawling all over the LFA with him pointing to all sorts of things. We could not find any 86 or BRZ folks willing to talk, as they were all very busy with the local press.

Tomorrow we will bring you images from the launch party of the Scion FR-S in Hollywood, California to round out the global trifecta. Stay tuned!

Photos by Skorj, our photographer/journalist living in Japan. You can see more of his work at Filmwasters.

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17 Responses to 2011 Tokyo Motor Show: Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ Unveiled

  1. Tyler says:

    I really like it but hey NEED to offer red tail lights.

  2. Ben says:

    Thanks, Skorj! There’s one thing I don’t understand…. the most talked-about Toyota in a decade (minus the LFA) and Toyota isn’t promoting the utter crap out of it? What, pray tell, did they showcase?

    • Skorj says:

      Well… the theme for this year’s show is ‘green’, ‘blue’, and ‘economy’. Toyota has on display five flavors of Prius, and numerous other ‘eco’ selling points. Visible consumption was a side-issue.

      BMW’s M5 was literally hidden; we had to ask for it. Most other manufactures had eco prototypes with lots of green and blue eco-friendly lights either front, or center. Honda did a big unveiling of their EV-STER, and Carlos effused all over Nissan’s eco-racer and other similar selling points.

      I am sure Toyota are proud of it, but it clashes a little with the austere theme of the show.

  3. Yee says:

    “Obviously still a Japanese car and kind of a design mish-mash with no overall theme. But, it still felt nice. The seats in particular are finished very well. Some of the other surfaces, perhaps less so. But, this car is not designed to compete with high end Europeans. It’s an entry level, fun, Japanese car.”

    This quote is disconcerting. Throughout history, many sporty Japanese cars had splendid interiors that took on the world. While the materials used may not be the most lavish, driver-centric cockpits and design thinking was very strong for JDM cars. Interiors like the SA22 RX7, NA Miata (90-93), FD RX7, Early S30, 90s Honda CRX/Civics and many more were amazing. Those cars, besides the FD, were entry level fun cars. The Kia Optima is an entry level sedan at 20k, but their interior is rated among the best in the business. If we dismiss and forgive poorly hashed interiors as Japanese and entry level, we are supplicating the Japanese companies to always be inferior to European. Toyota should always look forward to improve beyond its current design and manufacturing capability, and also watch out behind because Hyundai/Kia is coming with a knockout blow. “Just good enough” is not enough anymore.

    • Skorj says:

      The Mini-esque retro toggles are OK, the Audi-style heater and next-to gear knob switches OK, the heavy stitching OK as a part theme, but I kind of gagged at the 1969 911S textured dash covering clashing with the other finishes, including multiple plain textures as well.

      Choose one theme, and use it. Not five… Note though, this is not a terminal fault, as it all kind of works in that supplicated Japanese way.

      • Roo says:

        All I got from your reply was “The Japanese can’t innovate, therefore they must take cues from other euro manufacturers.” Kinda sad actually. You ever try applying for a job at motor trend or any american-based auto magazine? Show them your anti-Japanese opinions and they’ll hire you in a heartbeat.

        I got another one: “The way those heater dials are styled and those switches are next to the gear selector…that can’t be original, let me choose a euro manufacturer that looks somewhat like it and claim that Toyota (damn Japanese) got it from them because germans are the best at everything and the Asians always copy.”

        Also, those gauges are closer to the Nissan GT-R R35 gauges than some crappy euro’s.

        I thought this website would be devoid of your kind. Let me guess, you drive a volkswagen.

  4. Matt says:

    that blue suits it best imo. the toyo gold is the worst

    • Ben says:

      That gold/orange color has never looked good on ANY car.

      • Yee says:

        The gold/orange is a color that does not appeal to many, but in the context of an auto show, it reflects light really well and attracts more attention than the white car. See how it shows off the curves of the 86 in the last picture?

        Now, look at the wheels on the gold/orange car. It seems to resemble a modern update of the snowflake/mesh AE86 stock wheel.

      • Tyler says:

        Funny, the program we use to render 3D models (Autodesk Showcase) has a couple variations of that color in the materials library. Do you suppose they liked the computer renderings so much they wanted to replicate them in real life? Haha

        • Yee says:

          Most likely not exclusively inspired from Autodesk, LOL. There is so much more research, thinking and debate than just picking a swatch that looks cool. =)

          • E-AT_me says:

            personally? i love that orange.. i love the orange of the first generation honda fit. i love the orange on the MSM miata. i’m just wierd. but i’d probably buy white… racecars are white.. at least, they should be if they are from japan. 🙂

    • Skorj says:

      The Subaru blue was indeed nice, but look at the way that soft white does not reflect the glaring lights. It looked damn nice in the flesh.

  5. Lincoln Stax says:

    BRZ GT300 = sex.

  6. andy voytko says:

    Is the seating position really low like the Celica’s were? I ask because I’ve got bad knees and getting in and out of my Celica were the deciding factors to selling it.

  7. Kevin Truong says:

    I like that flat panel above the glove compartment. I think it was designed with old school in mind. Flat panel = Ready for gauges? Hah! Nice. Bringing simple and is bringing car tuning back to its roots! One more thing, Toyota does not need to promote the $hit out of this car. It will sell itself. It already has. Prepare for the F’ing high markups when they first hit the showroom floors/lot. And I expect to find plenty of them in the junkyard months following after. Why? If they market the price low and a number of parents buy these as 1st cars for their young kids, there is a good chance that they will lose them to accidents. Young kids, heck even amateurs driving these things thinking they are F’ing fast and losing control and crashing them. Then that will raise insurance rates for these cars too! Maybe I’m thinking too much. But after 14 years of toying with cars of many makes, this little GT86 has gotten me excited.

  8. Drew3x says:

    Saw a bunch of kids on youtube smack talking about how the car looked “dated” I just smiled, and thought “exactly” lol
    It’s like a new celica or supra.
    In the orange it looks too much like our daily driver 07 eclipse… Which works. But we already have a modern fender-flared coupe in the driveway. I’m way more intrigued by the idea of the new “fiesta sized” 270 hp wrx I keep hearing about

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