The future of the Scion brand remains up in the air, with a report from a few weeks back that Toyota dealers with attached Scion franchises could drop the youth-minded brand without penalty, rarely a good sign. That report was contrasted, though, with a story out of Australia that claimed we'd see a four-door sedan based on the splendid FR-S's overseas sibling, the Toyota GT 86. Now, we're hearing that a revised xB, Scion's formerly lovable toaster, is on the way. What gives?
2013 Scion Fr S
Sources in Australia are reporting that we'll be seeing a small, rear-drive sedan from Toyota, based on the GT 86/Scion FR-S. Yes, a convertible variant is still in limbo, but a four-door sedan is in the works. It's unclear if the rumored GT 86 sedan would spawn Scion and Subaru variants (it's hard to cross all ten fingers while you type, but we're having a go).
The Sydney Morning Herald has spoken to Tetsuya Tada, chief engineer of the Toyota 86 (our version of it, the Scion FR-S, is pictured above), and they've been promised that more power is on the way. We've heard a lot of speculation about a more powerful Toyobaru since before the standard model was even launched. The only question now is how the power will be delivered, and among the engine concepts we've already heard about – turbo, supercharger, twin-charged, hybrid – is a new one:
Toyota as we know it could become a thing of the past. According to Australian site Car Advice, the Japanese brand known for bland cruisers like the Camry and Corolla is preparing to bring two new rear-drive cars to market that would slot above and below the Scion-badged FR-S. This is very, very good news.
Despite being conceived by corporate giant Toyota, Scion painstakingly built its reputation on being something of an offbeat, youth-minded brand, working hard to establish individualist, almost hipster-like credentials. So it comes as something of a surprise to hear WardsAuto report that Scion has a whopping 1,000 dealers across America – just 200 fewer than Toyota itself. This, despite a much smaller product portfolio and a sliver of the sales volume.
On the surface, there's very little that the Ford Fiesta ST and Toyota GT86 (or the Scion FR-S that is sold in the US, or the largely similar Subaru BRZ) share in common. One is a hatchback with power coming from a turbocharged engine routed to the front wheels. The other is a coupe with power coming from a naturally aspirated four-cylinder boxer engine routed to the rear wheels.
There are very few vehicles available today that compare directly with the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ twins. A case could be made for the Mazda MX-5 Miata, and possibly even six-cylinder versions of American coupes like the Ford Mustang. Pretty much everything else is either too expensive or is powered by the wrong set of wheels.
As the story goes, Toyota's Scion brand was imagined up in someone's basement and then came to fruition in 2003 as a youth-oriented brand with a focus on delivering unique vehicles with an equally unique retail experience. A decade later, the brand has grown to five models, which will each be commemorated starting in June with a new Scion 10 Series edition.
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.'"
From what Autocar has to say, Toyota has even more plans for the GT86 beyond the convertible concept we just saw at the Geneva Motor Show. Along with a planned midcycle facelift, Toyota is reportedly looking at how to pack some extra ponies under the coupe's hood, and while there has already been a lot of talk about superchargers and turbochargers, it sounds like a performance-boosting hybrid system could also be in the works.
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.
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 Tokyo Auto Salon will welcome a Toyota GT86 (known here as the Scion FR-S) tuned by Gazoo Racing, said to be called the GRMN Sports FR Concept Platinum. We only get the briefest of teasers right now before the show begins on January 11, so we don't have much to go on beyond a unique lower front fascia and headlight treatment, a hood with at least one scoop, and a giant wing with unique LED taillights out back.
Marketing can be a very strange business. Convincing a man or woman (or child, really) that they absolutely cannot live without the latest, greatest new bit of technology oftentimes takes a unique approach. In the "online film promoting the Toyota GT86" you'll see below, created by agency Happiness Brussels, men are reverse-psychologied into thinking a new sports coupe will make them more masculine by getting their loved ones to hate them. Or something like that. We think.
We record Autoblog Podcast #307 tonight, and you can drop us your questions and comments regarding the rest of the week's news via our Q&A module below. Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so, and if you want to take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.
The Scion FR-S was just named the Hottest Sport Compact at the 2012 SEMA Show, and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) is apparently looking to make this car a little hotter. According to Car and Driver, TRD is close to coming up with a supercharger to fit to the car's 2.0-liter flat-four engine in order to squeeze out a little more performance. Currently, the FR-S produces 200 horsepower, but there's no guessing how much a supercharger could improve this figure.
Scion made a huge investment in the 2012 SEMA show, and its spanking new FR-S coupe, by putting hundreds of cars in the hands of tuners. The result on the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center is unmissable, as just about everywhere we turn we find another FR-S peeking out at us.
We're all still a little taken aback at the sheer number of Scion FR-S mods we've seen at SEMA this year. Not only did the FR-S win the Best of Show award for the Sport Compact class, but based on gross tonnage the rear-drive Scion has got to be one of the most popular models in the tuner world today.