Auto blogWed, 13 Feb 2013 14:29:00 EST
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.'"
Okay, okay - by this point in time just liking the Toyota GT86 (Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ, what have you) doesn't make you special. Even if you're a sort of funny sounding, funny looking Irishman, who probably isn't the most seasoned car reviewer ever, digging the GT86 is not news.
However, if, when you choose to publish your ten-minute-long review, you include exclamatory phrases about your own pubic hair, Ozzy Osborne's drug habit and "gentleman vegetable stuff," well sir, then you'll have our attention.
Don't give up on this video, available down below, after the first couple of minutes, we implore you. The silver-tongued Irishman doesn't really get warmed up until four minutes in, or so. Believe us, it's worth the wait.
As dearly as we love the Toyota GT86 / Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ franchise, we readily admit we wouldn't look sideways at a model with a bit more firepower. And while that's not quite on the table yet, Toyota has been busy amping up the visual firepower of its rear-drive coupe with a whole host of TRD parts. To this point, that's been a largely à la carte affair, but the automaker's UK outpost has just announced a special-edition model that allows our British friends to pick up the whole shooting match all in one go.
The Toyota GT86 TRD will only be available in black and white, and just 250 examples are to be built. As you can see from the excellent gallery above, the catalog of look-faster bits include a more aggressive front air dam, side skirts, rear bumper fascia, spoiler and unique 18-inch forged alloys. Additional flourishes include a TRD shift lever and branded radiator cap. The sole concession to actual performance? A "fast-response quad exhaust" that might only improve things audibly - 0-62 mph is apparently unchanged at 7.7 seconds, and the top end is still 140 mph for the manual transmission model. (The auto gets by with 8.4 seconds and 130 mph).
Pricing? Glad you asked. £31,495 for GT 86 TRD manual, £32,995 for the automatic - that's nearly $50,000 US for the tripedalist and just over for the automatic. (Those are heady prices, but bear in mind that UK MSRPs and taxes are generally significantly higher than their US counterparts). If the standard GT86 is more your speed, it still rings up at a more affordable £24,995 - roughly $39,500 - leaving plenty of budget for actual performance parts. No word yet on North American availability of a special TRD model, but we've got a call in...
Toyota has announced that the rear-wheel-drive Scion FR-S will replace the front-wheel-drive Scion tC as the racecar used by actors, singers and celebrities of all grades in its annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. It's the first time a rear-drive vehicle has been used for the event in 27 years, with the tC having been in use since 2005, and the FWD Celica before that. This year's race takes place on April 20th amidst the festivities of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend.
The racing FR-S, which debuted today at the Chicago Auto Show, won't be left stock either, but rather outfitted with a range of official Toyota Racing Development parts and equipment, such as a stainless steel exhaust, new coil overs and springs, upgraded brakes, a bigger air intake and 18-inch wheels, not to mention all of the safety equipment required to keep the celebrities and pro drivers safe. The company says the performance mods have lifted horsepower to 210 from the standard car's 200. Check out the build process for the cars in the video below to see just how much work's been done.
The Toyota Pro/Celebrity race is also about more than just letting celebrities and pros do battle on a road course. The spectacle helps raise money for "Racing for Kids," a non-profit charity that supports children's hospitals in the US.
Toyota earned $9.3 billion in net income in the financial year that ends next month. The number beats earlier forecasts and marks a five-year high for the automaker, with both operating income and revenue up by 9.5 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively. Toyota saw quarterly profit enjoy a year-on-year jump of 23.4 percent, with the manufacturer earning more than $1 billion between October and December 2012. The good news comes in spite of the fact that the Japanese automaker actually endured an operating loss in North America, due in part to legal fees.
Toyota is set to pay more than $1 billion to owners who claim their vehicles decreased in value as a result of the company's recent spate of recalls. Even so, all three of the automaker's brands enjoyed a 13.5 percent sales increase in the US in the last quarter, beating the industry average. Toyota faltered in Europe, however, where it earned $99 million in operating profit last year, compared to $111 million in 2011. You can take a closer look at the company's full press release below for more information.
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.
The New Poster Child For Cheap Thrills
Let me tell you about a man named Larry. Larry works for a company called STI Fleet Services, one of a few companies that are responsible for the cleaning, prepping, maintaining, scheduling, delivering and picking up of the cars we test on a weekly basis, not to mention a whole slew of other duties. STI and its competitors are the silent heroes of this whole automotive journalism biz. Larry is one of the guys responsible for a lot of the grunt work - he's been delivering cars to me for nearly seven years now, and because of that, we've developed a bit of a rapport. Now that I think about it, my history with Larry goes back farther than several of my friendships, as well as every romantic relationship I've ever had... combined.
With that much history behind us, Larry knows my taste in cars pretty well. And even though he doesn't voice his own opinions about what's being delivered to me, Larry silently knows when he's about to hand me keys to something truly special. When Larry arrived at my door with a bright red 2013 Scion FR-S, I tried to play it cool. But Larry knows me better than that.
Shin Tanaka is a "Japanese artist, graffiti writer, paper toy creator, designer" with Kennedy Center credentials - his Paper Shaper sneakers are especially popular. Scion has done a DIY collaboration with Tanaka that can get you every one of Scion's five models as a Paper Shaper.
There are two ways to get in on the auto origami, the first being to stop by the Scion booth if you happen by one of the coming season's auto shows. Since that's a lot of work and waiting to acquire a perforated sheet of paper, you can also download the Scion Paper Shaper app from iTunes. In the app you can customize your model, complete with custom paper sneakers on the custom paper base, then print it out and build it yourself.
If you have any more questions, well, the video and photos below will put it all together for you.
The last time we discussed the Scion xB and xD, in April of this year, it was to announce a report that both models were being killed. The vice president of the brand had said, "We don't have plans for a direct xB or xD replacement," but no date was given for the termination. Turns out rumors of their deaths have been greatly exaggerated: as part of a Toyota press release that summarized feature and pricing changes for 2013, the Scion xB was included.
The 2013 hatchback (above) gets a new front bumper and lower fascia with LED lighting, and the rear end gets a black diffuser. Stingray Metallic and Elusive Blue Metallic exterior hues will disappear, Absolutely Red and Nautical Blue Metallic will take their places. Inside will be light bronze metallic and chrome accents, as well as new seat fabric and the availability of the BeSpoke Premium Audio. It increases in price by $500, the manual costing $16,800, the automatic $17,750.
The xD (inset) has been left off the list and the Scion website it still hawking the 2012 car. But 2013 xD pricing and new features were announced earlier this year, the MSRP rising by $125 to $16,500. New equipment and options includes smoked headlight covers, more airbags and a two-tone paint job.
The Mazda CX-5 stamped its Kodo design and SkyActiv technology authority all over the Japan Car of the Year awards, taking the top prize ahead of the Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT 86. It is Mazda's second victory in the last ten years, the 2005 MX-5 claiming the same trophy, and the fourth time the Hiroshima company has won.
The award is decided by 60 local "automotive experts and journalists," and open to any passenger car released in Japan from November 1, 2011 to October 31, 2012 that has sold more than 500 units. Each judge gets 25 votes, his or her top vote getting 10 points, the rest of the points being spread among the judge's choice for the next best four cars.
The second-place getters were the Toyobaru twins with 318 votes, the surprise being they didn't beat or get any closer to the crossover. The Subaru BRZ did claw some mojo back, earning the Special Award given to cars that have made "an exceptional impact." The BMW 3 Series was third overall and won the Import Car of the Year award with plenty of room between it and the second place Range Rover Evoque.