Don’t 86 it: Toyota’s latest

Toyota 86

The automotive world is a highly misunderstood industry.  Sometimes there are two cars that look exactly alike, but are branded differently like with GMC and Chevrolet.  Sometimes the frame and body of one type of car is used to construct an entirely different vehicle.  Then, there are the times that manufacturers will pull a fast one; they release a car for several years under a different name and a different brand, and then switch it up.  Such is the case with the Toyota 86.  Originally developed in conjunction with Subaru, the Toyota 86 was manufactured solely by them, but was branded with a Scion FR-S nameplate.  Talk about confusing!

Toyota is actually hoping to alleviate some of this confusion later this year with the release of the newest model of this vehicle, which will be called the Toyota 86.  Scion, a division of Toyota, will discontinue the marketing of the FR-S to make room for the 86.  Set with a release date of August, Toyota has perfected the vehicle that didn’t seem to be working for Subaru or Scion in terms of sales numbers.  Toyota is hoping that the production of the 86 will throw them into the sports car game that other manufacturers have managed to dominate.

Toyota isn’t exactly well known for their sports cars, but their traditional sedans are consistently some of the highest sellers in the United States automotive market.  Due to their popularity, Toyota is hopeful about the rebranding of the 86 and hoping it performs better under their nameplate than it did as a Scion vehicle.  Many of its critics are saying, however, that Toyota has not made enough changes to warrant the big unveiling its been given.  In fact, most of the reviewers seem to be more excited about the second generation that Toyota and Subaru recently confirmed.

Toyota took Scion’s model and beefed it up a little, adding a little bit more power.  They’ve improved the handling by fine tuning the shocks and springs, but the meager two hundred horsepower isn’t impressing the sports car crowd.  Many maintain that the two hundred horsepower the 86 boasts is impressive considering the price range and the aspiration of the engine.  Other than adding in LED headlights and some other fresh features, there is little that has been done to the 86 to pull drivers’ eyes away from other affordable cars of its type.

Produced in both a manual and automatic transmission, Toyota has high hopes that the 86 will do well in its lineup.  Early photos depict a vehicle that has been streamlined slightly, but remains incredibly similar to that of the previous Scion design.  They’ve worked on the steering wheel to add in audio controls, but otherwise it seems that Toyota has dumbed down the interior and made it look cleaner, but boring.  It is possible that the photos we’re seeing are just an early prototype and the real version will feature more changes and bells and whistles, but early reviews aren’t hopeful.

Many of the reviewers believe that the 86 will be able to hold its own in the market, and will eventually make a name for itself for Toyota fans.  It is being offered, supposedly, at a similar price tag to that of the Scion, making it one of the more affordable rear wheel drive sports’ models on the market.  Toyota also hopes some of their brand name popularity will carry over, thus rocketing the 86 to a level of success that the Scion and Subaru models never attained.  Will an improved engine and a slightly different body style be enough of a bump to make this the next popular vehicle by Toyota?  Time will tell.

Toyota has some major competition for this particular market, but they don’t seem to be scared about it.  Reviewers are optimistic about the future of the 86 nameplate, especially considering the promised future collaboration between Subaru and Toyota.  Whether or not they are able to achieve the success their other models have, remains to be seen, but at least the 86 is providing something pretty cool to look at.  With some pretty big shoes to fill, the 86 is going to need a whole lot more than looks to skyrocket it to the ranks of other Toyota models.


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