According to the Toyota UK blog, engineers for the automaker were so excited developing the GT86 coupe that they investigated producing a whole family of models based on the rear-wheel drive sports car. And at least one engineer – product chief Tetsuya Tada – still hopes it can happen, even if not everyone at Toyota is onboard. Tada: "Actually we tried to do this secretly but the executives found us out. They said: 'What are you doing? Will you please focus on the coupe.'"
Those mooted variants included both a four-door sedan and a shooting brake. Why? Aside from the pure excellence of a lightweight, brilliantly handling hatchback, Toyota was keenly aware of the fact that it may need to spread the cost of development out across several models. Tada says that's part of the reason why it was so easy to create the convertible. The company knew from the outset that a softtop version was in the cards, and built the machine's structure to accommodate having the roof sliced off.
Tada also made mention of the already-announced collaboration between Toyota and BMW. The engineer said that the GT86 was particularly helpful because it demonstrated just how successful a product conceived and designed by two different companies can be. While he didn't say exactly what Toyota and BMW are up to, it's clear the two are looking into a number of possibilities. It's an interesting read with a lot of
Because the Toyota GT86, Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ coupes are now a reality, it's almost hard to imagine the struggle that had to happen within the large, conservative corporate structures at both automakers for the joint project to even get off of the ground.
Speaking to those struggles on Toyota UK's Toyota Blog, GT86 Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada enlightens us with a recap of the sports car's earliest origins. For Tada, the first stages of the project must have seemed almost as dreamlike as the final product is to drive.
Said the Chief, "I had been working in the minivan department engineering new product, but a month after the meeting I was summoned. 'Forget about minivans,' they said, 'you are now working on the sports-car project.'"
The recounting of the GT86 development process makes for a genuinely interesting yarn, and is a must-read for any owners/enthusiasts of the BRZ/FR-S twins. We highly recommend clicking through to read it in full. Perhaps it's wishful thinking, but we can't help hoping that Tada-san has got more of the story to tell, still. We'll be keeping an eye on the official Toyota Blog, just in case.
It's about time we saw someone cook up a legitimate race version of the delectable Toyota GT86, and now it looks as if GPRM has done just that. The Buckingham-based race engineering team has built the creation you see here, complete with a turbocharged 2.0-liter, direct-injection four-cylinder boxer cooked up by Nicholson McLaren Engines. The team says the new mill delivers between 360 and 400 horsepower to the rear wheels depending on final testing, which is a sight bit more than the 197 horses the naturally aspirated stock mill offers.
The car will compete in GT4 events, including the Avon Tyres British GT Championship. Technically, the GPRM effort isn't factory backed, but the team says the effort "has the blessing of Toyota Great Britain." How could it not? You can check out the brief press release below below, and be sure to take a closer look at the machine in our gallery
North American tuner companies were invited to Toyota Headquarters in Torrence, California to measure the new Scion FR-S and take a closer look at the car to begin the process of drafting future tuning parts. Many tuners were present at the event and the response to Scion’s new sports car has been overwhelmingly positive across the board.
Present at the session include the tuning industry’s heavy-hitters AEM, DC Sports, Whitelime, and ACT. Wheel companies Velox and König and audio specialists Schosche were present as well. According to Motor Trend, whom were present at the measuring session, many more companies were still scheduled to take measurements after they departed.
A number of Scion FR-S models were provided by Toyota for the tuner’s disposal. Audio specialists dismantled the interiors to measure clearance for stereo systems. Taking it even farther, performance intake systems tuner Airaid went ahead and digitally mapped the engine bay with a 3D scanner. According to Airaid engineer Clayton Rietz, the intake system in the FR-S is similar to the set-up in the ToyotaTacoma, which Airaid has already made an intake system for. Assuming that an FR-S intake will be a straightforward tweak from the Tacoma, performance parts for the FR-S may make it to the market quickly after the cars official on sale date.
What’s more, a close look during the session revealed just how much of the hardware belongs to Toyota’s project partner, Subaru. Suspension, exhaust and brake components are all stamped with the Subaru emblem. Performance suspension specialists Whiteline noted that many parts appear shared with existing Subaru cars, making an aftermarket suspension system only a test fit away.
In terms of wheel fitment, the Hellaflush community will be delighted to know that the inner lips of the front fenders are already smoothened and fender rolling will not be a necessary task when performing an ultra-flush wheel fitment. Both front and rear brake calipers are very compact, effectively eliminating clearance issues. Several wheel experts also suggested the possibility of fitting 10-inch wide wheels in the rear without the need for modification.
With a car so tuner friendly, the new FR-S is not only well positioned to become an instant hit, but should bring forth a resurgence to aftermarket tuning as well.
Around the Autoblog virtual office, the Toyota GT-86 is among the most eagerly awaited new models this year. So when we spotted a report in AutoBild that Tetsuya Tada, the chief engineer of the car, has confirmed that a convertible is coming, we got excited.
Of course, we're tempering our excitement with the knowledge that the 2013 Scion FR-S we're getting here in North America isn't the Toyota version. It may be the same actual car save for the brightwork, but when it comes to market positioning and all that stuff, Scion has differing objectives than the parent brand.
While we have heard rumors of a convertible before, they came in the context of the third GT-86 offspring, the Subaru BRZ. If a convertible version of the car ever does see the light of day here in the States, though, we're certainly not going to quibble over its badges.
Tokyo Auto Salon is the biggest exhibition of tuned cars in Japan, that takes place annually every January. It was common sense that Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ would be a strong topic at Tokyo Auto Salon 2012. But this is a massive invasion! Tuning companies have done their work and present their versions of the new Hachiroku! Enjoy.
Subaru BRZ STI edition:
HKS Tuned Toyota 86 for Taniguchi for 2012 D1 season:
Finally, after all the spy shots, concepts after concepts and leaks, Toyota has finally taken the covers off of the new production FT-86, known as the GT 86. Toyota says that the rear-wheel-drive 2+2 sports car is still in prototype form and is scheduled for launch in the spring of 2012. The model will be known as the Scion FR-S in the United States.
“With the shared desire to provide the dream and joy of cars, TMC and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (owners of the Subaru-brand) worked together to develop the 86 as a unique rear-wheel-drive vehicle, with intuitive handling, that embodies the essence of driving enjoyment,” Toyota said in a statement.
The Toyota GT 86 measures 4,240mm long, 1,285mm high and 2,570mm wide. The new Toyota GT 86 is built on a new platform with a very aerodynamic bodyshell. Rather than going for a heavy, large capacity powertrain, Toyota has installed a compact, front-mounted, free-revving gasoline engine that drives the rear wheels.
Power comes from a 2.0 liter 4-clyinder boxer engine making 197-hp at 7,000 rpm with a maximum torque of 151 lb-ft at 6,600 rpm. The engine is mated standard to a 6-speed manual transmission with an available 6-speed automatictransmission “with the feel of a manual.”
“The Toyota GT 86 has been conceived as an entirely driver-focused machine, designed to deliver the core qualities of the classic sportscar experience,” Toyota says. “That means precise, instant response to the smallest throttle and steering inputs and the kind of performance that appeals to those for whom driving is a passion, not a necessity.”
Hit the jump for the complete list of specifications.
Toyota GT 86 Main Specifications(Production Prototype):
Like an impatient child told in February what he's getting for Christmas, our wait for the 2013 Scion FR-S Coupe has seemed an interminable one. First there were clues, then a Toyota concept, then a Scion concept. Then…nothing.
This time, however, we've finally driven it, or at least a prototype of the Scion FR-S. And we're glad to announce that it's very much the car we've been waiting for — figuratively, not just literally.
Clearly, this is a sports car that had its development driven by feel and intuition, not lap times and lateral grip levels. "Sports cars have gotten boring," Toyota officials told us. "They're only interested in going fast." So the FR-S aims to bring speeds down but push enjoyment up. Is that really possible?
Yeah, There's Plenty of Subaru in This Scion
By now you've heard that the 2013 Scion FR-S is built on a rear-wheel-drive platform co-developed with Subaru. It'll be called the Subaru BRZ, and the production version will debut at the Tokyo auto show in just two weeks. We still don't have all the technical details, but we can tell you that it's about as small as a sports car can get while still offering four seats.
For reference, the FT-86 II concept shown at the Geneva auto show earlier this year measured 166.7 inches long, 50 inches high and 70.7 inches wide. It also had a short wheelbase that measured a mere 101.2 inches, or 5 inches shorter than the wheelbase of the Scion tC coupe. The dimensions of this prototype are at least that tight, if not tighter.
Keeping the size down helped control the weight, too. At just 2,822 pounds, the FR-S undercuts the tC by around 300 pounds. Couple that with the 2.0-liter flat-4 engine that produces roughly 197 horsepower and the FR-S looks pretty good on paper. Figure in the six-speed manual transmission and limited-slip differential and the FR-S starts to really look good.
Feels Good, Too
First impressions are that it feels light and compact, not unlike a Mazda MX-5 or the last Toyota MR2. The driving position is low, straight and snug. The front seats are grippy, the rear seats tiny. Think of it as a poor man's Porsche 911 and it feels just fine.
You'll have a harder time channeling those thoughts when it comes to the car's powertrain. The 2013 Scion FR-S is no stoplight hero. It's not slow either, though, so ripping through the precise six-speed shifter feels satisfying. There's a broad power curve and the engine revs clear up to 7,500 rpm, but like a typical Subaru boxer engine, there's no desperate need to wind it that far.
You'll be glad to know that the stability control system can be switched completely off.
You'll be glad to know that the stability control system can be switched completely off. That means the FR-S has burnout potential even if it's a little low on displacement. We were glad to get some seat time, so we didn't bother roasting the rubber this time out.
A Scion That Slides
It's hard to accurately gauge the ride on the concrete airfield where we drove the prototype, but the FR-S feels quite deftly set up and light on its feet. It steers easily, too. At 2.5 turns lock to lock, it has a quick but not hyperactive rack, and is light to average in terms of its assist. It all adds to the impression of a car that's easy to get along with right from the start.
Hit a corner and you'll find some roll, but the rate is well contained. The 2013 Scion FR-S's weight distribution is 53/47 percent front/rear, so it'll nudge into steady-state understeer if you're on a constant throttle, where it grips moderately well and is poised.
Push any harder and the FR-S starts to get really fun. Add any amount of power and it'll turn at least neutral. Trail the brakes into a bend, lift midcorner and it'll give you armfuls of oversteer. For that alone, the FR-S is better than any Scion coupe before it.
There's still a bit of tweaking to do on the damping, but it's 90 percent of the way there, at least according to our limited time behind the wheel. The gearing isn't always perfect either, at least if you want to pitch it into a long turn and hold a slide. Third gear just doesn't have the guts, so serious momentum is the only way to keep playing games with the chassis.
Of course more power would be nice. But more power means a turbo, stronger brakes and maybe even bigger wheels and tires to go with them. All that adds weight, and that's where the downward spiral starts, right?
That's Toyota's thinking, at least for now. We can't argue with that reasoning either. More stuff equals more cost, too, and the 2013 Scion FR-S is supposed to be an affordable rear-drive sports car for the masses.
As it is now, that's exactly what it is, and a good one at that. There's no doubt a hotter, 200-plus-horse FR-S will arrive eventually, but until then this first attempt feels as it should. The handling is well sorted, the engine has usable power and you can even turn off the nannies to have some real fun. This might have been worth waiting for after all.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Despite appearing at several auto shows as a concept car, we still have yet to see the official production version Toyota’s new FT-86 sports coupe. Fortunately, the Toyota enthusiasts at ft86club snagged photos of a Japanese-market brochure showing the new rear-drive Toyota in all its glory.
The brochure actually was sourced from Modellista, a Japanese company closely allied with Toyota that produces tuning and styling products for Toyota cars. So the FT-86 seen in these leaked photos might not be stock, but rather the product of a tuning upgrade.
Still, the overall design looks similar to what we have seen in spy photos and photo shoots of the upcoming FT-86. Approximately the size of an Audi TT or Porsche Cayman, the curvy coupe has bulging fenders, a wide-mouthed front fascia, an aggressive front lip, big dual exhausts, and a squared-off rear that exhibits lots of Subaru styling cues. (No surprise there — the FT-86 is being built in partnership with Subaru, which will sell its version of the coupe as the BRZ.)
The leaked interior photos reveal an instrument cluster that places a large, legible tachometer directly in front of the driver — and with a redline just past 7500 rpm. Heavily bolstered bucket seats, a stubby shifter for the six-speed manual transmission, and neat toggle switches on the center console contribute to a racy appearance.
As to performance, we believe the rear-wheel-drive Toyota FT-86 will use a 2.0-liter boxer engine producing about 200 hp. The Subaru BRZ, however, is expected to be gutsier and produce closer to 300 hp. The BRZ also will debut before the FT-86: Subaru says it will unveil the production version of the BRZ at the Tokyo Motor Show in late November, at which time Toyota will only show (once again) concept version of the FT-86. The FT-86 will be sold in the U.S. as the Scion FR-S, but it’s unclear when it might debut.
Regardless, the FT-86 is shaping up to be the most exciting new Toyota product in years. Head over to ft86club for a sneak peek at the car by way of the leaked brochures.
At the very least, this car will change how we think and dream of a sports car: We won’t. This is not a dream car. For most of us, it will be an impulse buy.
Tetsuya Tada tells its story.
Tetsuya Tada is the Chief Engineer of the FT-86, Toyota’s new sports car that had powered the rumor mills for many years. Some enthusiast blogs enthusiastically painted Tada as the “Jason Bourne of Toyota Sports car development.” If that is the case, then he is the friendliest and most unassuming Jason Bourne I ever heard of. He is the man I’d expect to see carrying two bags when I take out my carefully sorted garbage after midnight in a quiet Japanese neighborhood. As a Toyota Chief Engineer however, Tada carries more responsibility and more power than the Ludlum hero. Scott Bellware once described the role of a Chief Engineer at Toyota like this:
“He is the person responsible for the design, development, and sale of the product. He is the organizational pinnacle and the hub through which authority and ability flow. The CE isn’t just an architect or technical lead or just a customer proxy or just a project manager or just process master. He’s all of these things and more. He doesn’t just pass along customer requirements for the product, he defines them. He doesn’t just implement the business’s design for the product, he creates it. He’s large and in-charge, and he’s uniquely and deeply qualified to be so.
Because all of these abilities and authorities are invested in one extremely capable, senior, trusted product development person, the coordination of the various perspectives, values, and vision of a product and its execution don’t suffer design-by-committee issues. And because the CE has these many responsibilities and abilities, he’s a rare person.”
Tada indeed is a rare person. Dressed in khaki pants and a striped shirt, the affable attitude accentuated by rimless glasses, he hides all that power well.
We met last Sunday at Toyota’s Megaweb down by the waterfront. Megaweb is part theme park, part test drive venue. We met there, because an FT-86 prototype is on display. We didn’t go there to drive it. First off, Megaweb is not a test track. It was barely appropriate to give the iQ a slow spin. Second, most of the FT-86 is still a secret. Doors and hatches of the car on display are locked tight. So were the lips of its Chief Engineer.
“You can ask anything except specs and price,” Tada-san announced after we found a quiet space away from the din of the Megaweb.
“In that case, let’s have lunch,” was my answer.
In lieu of talking about cars, we found out that Tada lived where I lived during his time in Germany: In Düsseldorf Oberkassel, me because of its watering holes, him because of the Japanese school. Japan’s Jason Bourne is a dad who rather did a 100km round trip commute to Toyota Cologne each day than put his children’s education at risk. Speaking of lunch, we established that we both had regular lunch at the Kikaku, Düsseldorf’s best sushi place. That created a bit of bonding, and Tada started talking about the car.
When Tada stared at a white page, it was 2007. He didn’t know what to think:
“We did know from the very beginning that it was going to be a sports car. I said, well, if it’s going to be a sports car, it has to go fast. We were looking at the Nissan GT-R, the Mitsubishi Evolution, those cars were in our heads at the original stage.
Then we thought: Should we make a car that is faster than the GT-R?
You know what we did then? We did a lot of research. We talked to owners, fanatics, real buyers of sports cars around the world. They told us: Speed isn’t everything. If it’s just an incredibly fast car, they don’t really want it. What they want is a sports car that is small, compact, light, and that handles just the way they want it to handle.”
The customers wanted more: They wanted a sports car for less. A Veyron makes for good copy and dreams. But it also causes can’t-have-it frustrations. Tada listened intently to his future customers:
“The super-super-super fast cars are only for the super-rich. Even most super-rich don’t want to buy them. The people I talked to were looking for something like the 80s kind of a sports car, echoes of an AE86. They wanted a stripped-down, basic sports car with the price more like that of a piece of sports equipment, not the price of a house. Those people wanted something that doesn’t exist.”
Tada and his team set out to design the impossible. A year later, they had the design, the specs, and the price point. Tada presented it to the board of Toyota. The concept was approved. The project had an important advocate on the board: Akio Toyoda. At the time, the CEO was Katsuaki Watanabe. The time was 2008, and all over the world, the skies were falling.
Tada puts it in his trademark humble words when he describes the boardroom discussions:
“Sometimes, it is a little hard to explain why this kind of a vehicle is needed for the Toyota brand. If you just take the commercial point of view – it won’t make a lot of money, and of course, there are some people who object to that. But as they say, money isn’t everything – especially when it comes to branding.”
At the height of carmageddon, Tada received the go-ahead for what we would call an “enthusiast car.” The Japanese have a more befitting description. It’s a “nekkyousha car” a car for maniacs – in a good way. It helped that Toyota’s resident auto otaku, Akio Toyoda, was behind the concept, and it helped even more that he became President of Toyota a year later.
Asked what changed for the FT-86 when Toyoda took the helm of Toyota, Tada says: ”He became one of our test drivers.”
Asked what it means when you work in the shadow, but also in full view of the President of the world’s largest carmaker, Tada changes the subject. His true boss is the customer, and the customer didn’t want another rice racer:
“It is possible to soup-up sedans or hatchbacks to make them sporty. But what these people are after is a body that is already very low to the ground, very sleek, a body that they can then work on – if they want.”
As for low to the ground, Tada promises a “production car with the world’s lowest center of gravity.” The FT-86 will be a tinkerer’s car. The car is named “FT-86” for a reason. Toyota wants to make a mental connection to the AE86, the archetypical cult-craze car from the Star Wars era. Nearly 20 years later, the hachiroku (Japanese for 86) still commands a following for which some modern day Messiahs would kill. Toyota wants to build a new millennium hachiroku so bad, they even kept the number. Says Tada:
“The 86 was such a popular maniac car not because of what the maker did, but what the users did with it. It created its own aftermarket and a tuner industry. The idea of the FT-86 is basically the same. We want to create a car that is easy for people to tune and to play with.”
Tada indeed is a rare person. The Teutonic engineers I grew up with used go into convulsions or threw screaming fits when people modified “their cars” – except maybe using factory-approved and overpriced accessories.
Tada smiles when you ask him whether is hurts his pride as an engineer when the people of SEMA gang-rape “his car.”
A short, but honest answer. Isn’t it painful to spend years designing the perfect car, and to make it so perfect in a sense that some guys in a garage can modify it beyond recognition without even breaking a sweat or lighting a welder?
The Chief Engineer’s sensitivities are touched by the most benign act of modding – the choice of tires:
“We usually come up with a designated tire, a tire that is optimal for the car. We arrive at this decision after long tests. That some guys go and decide their own tire steals a little something from the enjoyment of the engineer – but that’s the concept of this vehicle. It is not made for the enjoyment of the engineer – it is made for the enjoyment of the owner.”
That owner may not need a lot of money, but he will need to know how to drive. He will need to use his own brain and the seat of his own pants. Tada had jotted down the principle in his self-derived design guide, and he sticks with it:
“From the beginning, the concept was to put the driver back in the driver’s seat, and to eliminate computers as much as possible today. Powerful sports cars use a lot of computer technology so that anyone can drive and handle them. We decided not to go down that road.”
The FT-86 has about half of the computing power that is dragged around in a modern day car. The preferred shifter is a stick. An automatic is optional. The slushbox is nothing fancy. “No DSG or anything of that kind,” says Tada, and is proud. Sure, the automatic has a computer, but the shift points cannot be changed – at least not at the flip of a switch in the dashboard. Computers want to keep you on the straight and narrow, but some FT-86 owners want that car to go sideways. If you need nannies, go down to the children’s hospital.
The FT-86 will be built at Fuji Heavy’s Subaru, and when I mention that, the engineer’s pride shifts into low gear – for extra revs. Tada quickly explains that this is just contract production, and it’s the same as “when we make cars at Central Motors or Kanto Auto Works.” Both are separate companies, but they are also part of the greater Toyota empire. Toyota owns a good chunk of Fuji Heavy, so Subaru is part of the family – in a way.
Subaru will produce its own version, probably called the BRZ. Both companies also developed the car together, and that must have been an interesting exercise. Recalls Tada:
“The first year was actually quite tough. The character and processes of the two companies are quite different. In the beginning, we sat down and decided who does what. That didn’t work out very well, because of the cultural differences between the companies. When people started to become more interested in the car itself, people from both sides ended up becoming one team. In the end, it wasn’t so much Toyota doing this and Subaru doing that, but people working together with one goal.”
In the maniac, well, enthusiast scene, it is pretty much gospel that the cars use Subaru’s flat four “D4-S” boxer engine. Depending on whom you believe, the production engine ranges from a tried & true to a refined & modified D4-S. That elicits protests from Tada, as loud as the softspoken man can manage:
“No,no, no – it is a completely new engine. The engine is still a boxer. The technology, even the engine block are completely new. Everything is new. The only thing that remained are the mounting points.”
Imagine how much engineer’s pride that one did cost. A completely new engine was developed. At the same time it comes with an invitation to be swapped for whatever follows the Subaru bolt pattern.
After years of concept cars, the production version of the FT-86 will debut at the Tokyo Motor Show, December 2 – December 11, 2011. “Next year” (most likely in spring), the car will be launched. It won’t be available in Japan first and years later elsewhere. It will, says Tada, be available next year “all over the world.” In the U.S., it will definitely by a Scion. In the rest of the world, it will be a Toyota.
Jack Baruth and Sajeev Mehta equipped me with a long list of questions. After Tada’s initial admonition that we can talk about everything except specs and price, I didn’t have much hope for answers, but nonetheless, I tried. The following Q&A ensued:
“Can you tell me the weight?” “No.”
“Can you tell me the horsepower?” “No.”
“Can you tell me the weight distribution?” “No.”
“Can you tell me the price” “No. It will be affordable.”
“Suspension?” “McPherson, double wishbone.” And a smile.
And so it went while Tada was conspicuously consulting his watch, signaling that time, patience, or both are running out. All I could do was to use the old investigative reporter trick, put two versions on the table, and ask which one is close. I used the crowd-sourced specs from the fountain of knowledge.
Tada eye-balls both. And gives his verdict. See above.
Last question time!
“Mr. Tada – is it true that you compared the color of the FT-86 to the ass of a monkey?”
Ooops. The Chief Engineer covers his mouth in feigned shock and explains that he indeed had experienced “some trouble” after magazines had written that he indeed had compared the car’s color to a monkey’s derriere. He quickly adds that he had referred not to just any monkey, but to a genuine Japanese monkey, those amicable animals that visit hot springs in wintertime, with icicles dangling from their furs – parts of Japan’s storied heritage.
And that’s not all, says Tada. The FT-86 red can also be compared to the world famous Japanese sunset (no sunrise is mentioned) and to the dragonfly. In Japan, the dragonfly is a symbol of courage, strength, and happiness – it even symbolizes the whole Japanese archipelago.
So there you have it. The FT-86 is so customizable, so tunable, so hot-roddable that it gives you a choice of associations triggered by its color. Depending on your mood, you can pick sunset, dragonfly, or an entirely appropriate greased monkey. As long as they are Japanese.