Toyota 86 Sport Coupe Officially Launches in Japan

Toyota 86 Sport Coupe Officially Launches in Japan

2011 Tokyo Auto Show

Just the Facts:
  • Toyota arranges a big coming-out party in Japan for the 86, its new rear-drive sports coupe.
  • The 2.0-liter coupe, jointly developed with Subaru, was unveiled at the Gazoo Racing Festival at Fuji Speedway by Toyota President Akio Toyoda.
  • The new sportster will be badged in Japan as the Toyota 86, but will be marketed in the U.S. as the 2013 Scion FR-S.

TOKYO —Toyota's long-awaited, new-age sports coupe, hitherto known to the world and sundry as the FT-86, is out in the open at last, rechristened Toyota 86 in Japan.

Unveiled in a blaze of publicity on Sunday at the Gazoo Racing Festival in Japan, this new 2.0-liter sports coupe is still officially a prototype. Even so, this is all but the final shape of the much-anticipated 1998cc boxer-engined, rear-drive sports coupe that Toyota and Subaru have jointly developed together and which is all set now to go into production in spring 2012.

Two years after Toyota showed a first concept of the FT-86, the final design seems not so dramatically different although the sheet metal is all-new. We are told that Toyota has carefully left room for the tuner crowd to tweak the whole package, so more aggressive versions are surely not that far away.

In the badge department, the FT designation is gone; in Japan, the car is to be known as just 86 (or hachi roku), a homage to the classic AE-86 Corolla GT coupe of the 1980s whose exuberant handling so inspired this car. In the U.S., the badging will change to Scion FR-S.

In his briefing to the media, chief engineer Tetsuya Tada was keen to stress that the 86 is not a "numbers car" and that compact size, fun, rear-drive handling and low center of gravity were paramount. He also was keen to put some distance between pricey turbocharged 4WD sportsters of the Evo/STI/GT-R ilk. Instead, like the Mazda Miata, Toyota's newcomer is more about light weight and intuitive feel at the wheel than outright speed and grip.

The 86, as shown, comes with a unique, naturally aspirated 198-horsepower Subaru flat-four (with 151 pound-feet of torque) and choice of six-speed manual or auto transmission. Media who had a brief taster around Fui's short course discovered a car with good balance, a keen front end and broad spread of power. It feels quick and light on its feet, with controls nicely weighted and precise.

The throbby Subaru engine may seem unusual in a car wearing a Toyota badge (Subaru's own BRZ version of the car will debut this Wednesday at the Tokyo auto show), and a debate has already begun in Japan as to which version — Toyota or Subaru — will do better in the market.

No word yet on price. Somewhere in the region of $25,000 and up is one guestimate in Tokyo, but we won't know for sure until the coupe officially hits the market next spring. says: A promising start for this long-awaited, new-age Toyota sportster.

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