Are we done yet with the FT-86 / FR-S / BRZ preview concepts? Maybe not…

The buildup to the launch and reveal of the final production versions of the Toyota/Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ sports coupes (the so-called “Toyobaru twins”) has been one long, drawn-out, sometimes agonizing striptease or string of teasers and concept cars. On the Toyota side alone we had the original FT-86 Concept that debuted at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show in October of that year, followed by the January 2010 appearance of its tuner-modded FT-86 G Sports Concept iteration at the Tokyo Auto Salon, and the 2011 triple play of the black FT-86 II Concept (unveiled in March at the Geneva Motor Show), the Scion FR-S Concept the following month in New York and the red/orange with Brembo brakes FT-86 II Concept revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show just over a week ago.

Meanwhile, Subaru revealed two awkwardly-named variants on the same clear Lucite-bodied theme: the Rear-Wheel Drive Sports Car Technology Concept (shown above) unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show, and the BRZ Prologue Boxer Sports Car Architecture II (shown below) following 5½ months later at the Frankfurt Motor Show. At a glance, it appears that the two are the same except for changing the accent/border tinting from blue to gold. Some pundits insist, however, that the Subaru BRZ Prologue contains more whole mechanical parts and less cutaways than its predecessor. At any rate, an ft86club thread contains many excellent close-up pictures of its mechanical innards in all their metallic glory.

While most of were convinced that the next stage of the seemingly never-ending saga would be the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show reveal of the final production versions, Car and Driver‘s Erik Johnson begs to differ. He informs us that

Subaru finally will show a version of its new BRZ sports car—with sheetmetal!—at November’s Los Angeles auto show. It won’t look like the final product, however, and neither do Toyota’s two FT-86 concepts: The companies have an agreement not to show a single production body panel until the cars debut at Tokyo in December… Expect a crazy body treatment to apply to this new Subaru concept, too, as there’s a chance it will wear the brand’s high-performance STI badge. (Whether the actual car will get an STI version is still unknown, but this seems like a good sign.)

So, what will Subaru name this purported final BRZ concept? BRZ Preface? BRZ Preamble? BRZ Prelude? Forget the last one, if Honda has anything to say about it…

Toyota FT-86 has its own Bridgestone “86” Tires!

It was inevitable but the details continue to trickle in as anticipation builds for the long awaited, fun-to-drive, Toyota FT-86 (a.k.a Scion FR-S for us in North America).
Just last week Toyota teased us with a video of a revamped FT-86 II for the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. It was just yesterday that Toyota unveiled handful of new cars including the refreshed FT-86 II. Aside from the obvious pearly orange-red exterior, a few new features have surfaced specifically the brakes and the tires. It appears that the FT has gained four piston front, two piston rear Brembo brake calipers and some new shoes, FT-86 spec Bridgestone Potenza RE86 tires! It seems as if Bridgestone has resurrected the RE”86″ model name to match its AE86 heritage. Aside from the nice stance and great wheel fitment, could the staggered 19″ wheels possibly be forged BBS like the Lexus LFA? We can only wonder. Hurry up Toyota (& Scion), the suspense is killing us!!

Special thanks to our friend Agent 001 of Autospies.com for letting us use his comprehensive collection of photos from the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. Check out the full gallery of FT-86 II Concept pics here!


FT-86 II Concept Overvew @ Frankfurt Auto Show:

New Toyota FT-86 Teaser:

Photo Courtesy: AutoSpies.com
Videos Courtesy: Toyota Motor Europe & Toyota Global

Subaru’s version of FT-86 gets a name: BRZ

Although responsible for the flat-four engine and, allegedly, most if not all of the chassis and suspension componentry beneath the so-called “Toyobaru” (FT-86) coupe, Subaru has been something of a straggler when it comes to revealing specifics on its end of the upcoming joint-venture sports coupe with Toyota. In contrast to Toyota’s trio of FT-86-badged concepts, plus a fourth bearing the Scion FR-S badge, Subaru’s sole reveal was the clear-bodied and ponderously-named Rear-Wheel Drive Sports Car Technology Concept shown at the end of this article. Now comes word, via an official Fuji Heavy Industries press release that Subaru has chosen to name its version the BRZ, which stands for “Boxer engine”, “Rear-wheel drive” and “Zenith”.

While the use of a trio of initials or letters may seem odd to those accustomed to Subaru’s recent word names (Impreza, Legacy, et al), longtime fans of the marque may recall that their two previous dedicated sports coupes relied mostly on initials for their monikers: XT and SVX (although both used the Alcyone name in Japan, and XT was sold as the Subaru Vortex in Australia and New Zealand). The BRZ initials strike some as uncomfortably close to Honda’s hybrid sports coupe, the CR-Z, while others are reminded of Lincoln’s current model-naming protocol. BRZ also vaguely recalls the Plymouth Breeze, the cheapest of Chrysler’s so-called “cloud cars” from the late 1990s.

On Tuesday 13 September at 9:30 AM Central European Time (which translates into 3:30 AM Eastern Time and 12:30 AM Pacific Time), the Frankfurt Motor Show press conferences will see Subaru unveil its second and presumably final RWD sports car prototype, the BRZ Prologue “technology concept”. This implies yet another concept heavy on the technical underpinnings, and that’s just fine by us. With its flat-four engine reportedly moved back by as much as 100mm (almost 4″) and down an undetermined amount versus other Subaru applications for optimum balance and handling, anything that further clues us in on what to expect at the final production reveal of both Subaru and Toyota versions at December’s Tokyo Motor Show is more than welcome.

Speaking of clues, Subaru’s press release is accompanied by a teaser video of the BRZ Prologue, which looks much like the original Rear-Wheel Drive Sports Car Technology Concept. What little of the styling is revealed remains distinct from the Toyota/Scion concepts and shows a nose and front bumper shape reminiscent of the 3rd-generation (3G) Mitsubishi Eclipse. Yet, how much or how little visual differentation there will be between the Toyota/Scion and Subaru versions remains an open question. The concepts themselves hint at distinct looks for the two companies, while comparisons between test prototypes spotted at the Nürburgring with Toyota’s DAU 0684 license plates and in California with Subaru distributor plates show them to look almost identical save for possible minor lighting, wheel, spoiler and trim differences, just like the original Mitsubishi Eclipse / Eagle Talon / Plymouth Laser “Diamond-Star triplets”. Or is Subaru using Toyota-styled test mules for expediency?

Is Toyota working on a manual transmission hybrid powertrain for a Prius Sport Coupe?

Although, to date, Toyota has only confirmed Prius Alpha/v/+, Plug-In and upcoming Prius c additions to the growing Prius family, rumors have been reported over the past couple of years of a Sport Coupe Prius as a later derivative, and the fanciful rendering above (from Japan’s Holiday Auto) certainly bears a Lexus LFA-meets-7th-generation Toyota Celica mashup feel to it. To date, these rumors have been met by this author with a “meh” and a shrug, writing off the very notion of a Prius Sport Coupe as a secretary’s chick car for Southern California tree huggers.

Although Lexus certainly proved that even front-wheel-drive hybrid chassis could be made into somewhat entertaining handlers with the CT and even HS models, a CVT (continuously variable) transmission often emerges as the weak link in the fun-to-drive chain. After all, attempts to add to the CT 200h’s enthusiast cred via a “manual” mode and paddle shifters for the CVT ended up with disappointed engineers deeming it not worthy for export, relegating it to a Japanese Domestic Market option with hopes for future improvement. In a recent report by Japan-based Australian journalist Peter Lyon which appeared in both a recent print edition of Evo magazine and on Motor Trend‘s website, however, Lyon paints a picture of a far more enthusiast-friendly Prius Sport Coupe. A passage from the article states that

One of the highlights of this coupe will be the option of a manual transmission that Toyota is developing for hybrids at the Higashi-Fuji proving ground near Mt. Fuji. That manual gearbox will be bolted to the company’s next-generation hybrid system with plug-in capability, a system that will be completely new and not inherited from the Prius.

While this reflexively brings on cheers and hurrahs from the row-your-own, Save the Manuals! crowd, this author nevertheless is somewhat skeptical. After all, Honda’s CR-Z hybrid 2-seater, available with a manual transmission, has met with both tepid reviews and sales. Granted, Toyota’s Hybrid System Drive is miles ahead of Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist in terms of both refinement and fuel economy, and a manual Toyota HSD powertrain sounds intriguing, but still…

Regardless of transmission, one would imagine a Prius Sport Coupe as a front-wheel-drive derivative of Toyota’s MC platform architecture, just like the Prius 5-door hatchbacks, Toyota Avensis, Lexus HS… and the Scion tC coupe. With the upcoming Scion FR-S rear-wheel-drive sports coupe coming in less than a year, there is serious potential for cannibalization with tC, and updating the front-wheel-drive tC as a Toyota-badged hybrid sounds like a logical solution to this issue. Yet, Lyon suggests this is not the case. Instead,

Our spies tell us that the sports coupe will employ a rear-drive platform and will incorporate the plug-in hybrid unit with lightweight Li-ion batteries that generate significantly more power than the current Prius

Thus, he suggests that a Prius Sport Coupe would, instead, be one more possible FT-86 derivative. Again, this is something we would love to see, yet can’t help but feel skeptical about.

Will Toyota follow a two-prong RWD Scion FR-S / AWD Toyota Celica All-Trac revival strategy for FT-86?

An all-too-brief article by Mark Rechtin of Automotive News titled Why a Scion? Because scion said so contains a couple of interesting bits on the whole Scion vs Toyota branding debate surrounding the upcoming FR-S coupe engineered in conjunction with Subaru. For one, the decision went all the way to the top, to company scion (pun half-intended) and president Akio Toyoda, who “decided that the 200-hp, rear-drive FR-S would be a halo car for the young buyers that Scion craves.” Yet, for the surprisingly large number of Americans who bemoan the wisdom of this decision, Toyota Division General Manager Bob Carter said that, “There may be additional uses for that platform. It’s a heck of a package.” This could mean anything, but Mr.Carter seemingly hinted that an all-wheel-drive vehicle might be derived for Toyota dealers.

Although Subaru’s initial version of FR-S is expected to use the same rear-wheel-drive powertrain as its Scion counterpart, rumors abound that an all-wheel-drive turbo STI variant will eventually be offered by Subaru. Is the plan, then, for Toyota’s AWD Turbo version of FR-S to bring back the spirit (and perhaps even the badge) of the late, lamented Celica All-Trac Turbo? A tantalizing thought, to be sure. After all, we at Kaizen Factor have previously wholeheartedly endorsed the notion of additional FT-86 derivatives…

Scion’s got a surprise & its coming to New York!

Everyone is anxiously awaiting the next “FUN” car to come from Toyota. Just last month  Toyota unveiled the Toyota FT-86 II Concept at the Geneva Motor Show. We’ve always wondered if we would get the FT-86 as a Toyota or something else. With this newest video teaser, it looks like Scion may get the highly anticipated AE86 descendant. Coincidentally this new Scion concept car will be revealed on Wednesday 4/20 LOL. Check out the teaser below:

For those of you that are not able to be at the press event in New York, you can watch the Scion concept unveiling LIVE. Mark your calendars and make sure you have good internet connection.  April 20th at 1:40pm EDT on sciondimension.com

Source: Scion USA