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Scion FR-S Returns Toyota to the Driver’s Seat

December 1, 2011 by Matt

Scion FR-S FRS Toyota GT-86 GT86 Subaru BRZ Red

Another bit of large-ish news from the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show: After months of photos and tentative specs, Toyota and Subaru officially unveiled their jointly-developed trifecta of badge-engineered RWD coupes.

Scion FR-S FRS Toyota GT-86 GT86 Subaru BRZ Interior Inside Cockpit Dashboard Gauges

As reported previously, the common ground between the Subaru BRZ, US-only Scion FR-S and rest-of-world Toyota GT-86 is their 2.0l, 200 hp flat-four engine, overall shape, light-ish 2800 lb weight and RWD architecture. The brand- or sub-brand-specific fine-tuning is up to the individual automakers, and so far it looks like Subaru’s going to give their BRZ a harder performance edge in contrast to Toyota’s selection of a more docile feel for their coupes. Either way, expect a myriad of further trim lines and variations on the basic theme, both from the automakers and from the legion of aftermarket tuning outfits chomping at the bit to get their hands on the cars.

I can hardly blame them; we’ve been waiting since ’05, when the Toyota MR2 Spyder left our shores, for a real enthusiast-oriented car from the Japanese automaker. For a time, they redirected their efforts toward dominating the market for hybrid cars with their Prius, neglecting the performance legacy established by the aforementioned MR2, Celica, AE86 Corolla and almighty Supra. I think I speak for many enthusiasts out there when I say, “Welcome home, Toyota.”

Scion FR-S FRS Toyota GT-86 GT86 Subaru BRZ Engine Bay Motor

A quick glance at the engine bay reveals some positive and some disappointing features for those of us in the do-it-yourself set, professional or otherwise. It seems the shock towers are already braced to the firewall, eliminating, or at least rendering irrelevant, the presence of an aftermarket shock tower brace, a favorite engine bay ornament of the Fast & Furious crowd. Speaking of the shock towers, I guarantee you their location relative to the wide, flat engine is going to make changing spark plugs a complete nightmare. Fortunately, most cars having a 100K mile tuneup interval, that’s probably not a procedure that will have to be attempted often. The airbox is situated prominently, right up front in the bay, providing a nice location for the inevitable aftermarket cone filter to draw warm air from under the hood, giving the supposedly performance-minded owner a couple horsepower debit over the OEM piece, which is an actual cold-air intake.

At the very least, the FR-S and its cousins may give wannabe racers a showroom-fresh, balanced, RWD alternative to their aging Nissan 240SXs, FC RX-7s and brawny Mustangs. I’ll drink to that.

Filed under: News, Scion, Subaru, Toyota


  1. John D says:

    I really like this. Low curb weight (relatively speaking), decently powerful engine, and what we would expect (what with it coming from Toyota/Subaru) to be a fairly firm chassis. And it looks good, too. Just add another 100hp or so and it may be a serious contender for that third spot in that house with a three car garage that I might own someday in the as yet unforseen future. The planning stage of coming up with a plan for the future is almost complete. I can almost see the vision of having a vision for the far future as coming to fruition sometime in the near future! And just like that, I am so there!!! Thank you Toyubaru! (Subyota? Either way…my life is practically complete. In my head, at least…)

    • Matt says:

      I guess the question is, would you rather have one of these or a Mustang GT? By the time it’s all said and done, you could probably pay just a little more and more than double your horsepower…although you’d be adding 500 lbs or so too.

      The Subaru engine is a great addition. Inherently balanced and free from the typical four-banger Honda/Mitsu drone, I’m sure a bolt-on turbo kit will be one of the very first aftermarket kits developed for it. The only “major” issues I have with the car are its sports coupe (as opposed to sports car) proportions—even though the details of the styling are very well done—and the fact that it will be THE poster car for the ricer/drift crowd, 100% guaranteed.

      So if it’s a toss up between the FR-S or Mustang GT, which crowd would you rather be associated with? :)

      • Aaron says:

        I hate to admit it, but my recent rental car experience with the 2012 GT was quite impressive…Smooth, quiet, panoramic, with 32 mpg on the highway and 300 hp on tap to use at every stop light.

      • John D says:

        That is a toughie. As much as I like this car, I never have (and probably never will) owned a sports coupe, per se. The FD was small like one and the ’69 Camaro only had 200hp like one (dad wouldn’t let me drive a V8 muscle car in high school)…but as much as I like some of these cars I never really came close to buying a Prelude or Eclipse and the like. The nature of them just doesn’t appeal to me in general. I guess it just seems like they have inherent limitations in regards to their potential and to make one what I want it to be is to force it to do something for which it was never intended. So I guess I really am more of a sports car/muscle car/sports sedan/truck/motorcycle type person and will probably never buy a vehicle that isn’t one of those things. I’ve never actually thought about it that way, but I think it’s the truth. Epiphanies are flying from my fingers this very second…

  2. John D says:

    Oh and BTW, using my powerful powers of observation I see that there is, in fact, an alternator under the hood. That’s a good sign. I was hoping they’d have one of those under there. And five yellow filler caps. Yup. Just another sign that someone is really making the hell out of those tough decisions, while still paying attention to detail. Oh, and something about the battery being in a proper position. Yes, all signs point to this car being a rampant success stateside. ;)

    • Matt says:

      You’re…mocking me, aren’t you?


      • John D says:

        Hehe. Not really. Just juxtaposing your insights with my own. While yours tend to have fundamental reason and rational thought on their side, mine are for amusement purposes only. ;)

        (Except the battery thing. It actually makes a lot of sense to put it there…)

  3. Shawn says:

    I liked your comment about the inacessibility of spark plugs on Subaru boxer engines. However, if it’s like the last generation 2.5 engine the replacement interval is even more severe: 30K for non-turbo and 60K for turbo engines. I changed the plugs myself on my previous Forester XT about 3 years ago and I believe my knuckles are still recovering!

    I like both of the new models ok but neither are pushing the lust button yet. I wish the Subaru version had SOMETHING to make it weirder over the more granola Toyota. SVX-style window within windows anyone?

    • Matt says:

      I agree with you on the wish for more differentiation between the FR-S/GT-86 and BRZ. As far as I can tell, the only major styling difference is that the grille shape is turned upside-down and the wheels are different. At their worst, most GM badge-engineered cars had more distinctiveness relative to each other…

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