First Look: Scion FRS-86 Concept

“Friggin’ really sweet,” suggests Scion chief Hollis.

by on Apr.20, 2011

Scion boss Jack Hollis reveals the FRS-86 Concept.

There’s no denying Scion General Manager Jack Hollis is one very enthusiastic executive, so it took the corporate legal beagles from letting him write the press release explaining the logic behind the name of the maker’s new FRS-86 Concept.

“Friggin’ Really Sweet,” Hollis proclaimed during the Scion sport car’s unveiling.  Oops, never mind, he quickly said.  The barristers prefer the more officious Front-engine, Rear-drive Sport, with the “86” borrowed from the legendary Toyota AE-86 Corolla of a quarter century ago.

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The FRS-86 is no retro-mobile.  It’s a decidedly edgy show car that might take by surprise skeptics who expect plain vanilla design out of Toyota and its various brands.  Visually, the sports car boasts a gull-wing shaped roof, a trapezxoidal rear end and striking, almost sci-fi style headlamps.  The 20-inch wheels are eight inches wide up front and 10 in the rear, and incorporate the brake rotors.

Developed in a joint venture with Subaru – which Toyota holds a major share in – the sports car is aimed at rebuilding the market effectively left to Mazda’s little Miata, these days.  The FRS-86 takes advantage of the smaller maker’s low-slung boxer engine, which permit the powertrain to be mounted low and rearward.

Subaru's transparent concept shows what each maker focused on.

At the Geneva Motor Show, earlier this year, Subaru displayed a transparent concept that aimed to distinguish what the two carmakers brought to the project, Subaru claiming it handled the vast majority of mechanical, Toyota focused on exterior and interior design,

We beg to differ, said several Toyota sources, who claimed that the industry giant delivered some key technology to help maximize the performance and handling of the concept – and the production car to follow.  That includes the DS-4 injection system – a dual direct and port injector design – that helps boost both torque and horsepower, while also achieving better fuel economy.

The production version will likely get a toned-down rear.

The basic flat boxer 2.0-liter powerplant, however, comes from the Subaru toolbox.  Scion wouldn’t provide some specifics, like horsepower and torque.  The engine is mated to either a 6-speed, short-throw manual, or an optional 6-speed automatic using steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

With an emphasis on light weight, great balance and “managed power,” Scion expects that the overall handling an feel will turn the production version of the FRS-86 into a must-have for young, aspiring sports car drivers.

Scion and Subaru will each market versions of the new sports car.

The prototype could readily convert to  track use and the 2+2 hatchback design would make it easy, Hollis said, to find space for four track tires and a racing jack.

The maker is hedging on when the FRS-86 will be ready for production, though that’s likely a near-term event for Scion – and for Subaru, which will introduce a version of its own.

A well-placed Scion source noted that what you see is largely what you will get, with only minor designs concessions.  The aggressive rear spoiler, for one thing, will have to toned down to make it easier for the sports car to meet crash regulations.

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