The FR-S sports car has been one of the offerings that gave Scion a big shot of youthful cachet, so it’s clearly a keeper from the Toyota corporate point of view. Thus as Scion phases out at the end of the 2016 model year, the FR-S will reappear as the 2017 Toyota 86.

Appearing for the first time at the New York Auto Show, the name was chosen to make light of the Scion division’s demise. The headline on the press release proclaims “Toyota to 86 the FR-S Name.”

Whether the end of the Scion experiment is a cause for merriment is an open question, but the transition from FR-S to 86 is more than merely replacing the brand and model badging. The front end has been revised with a more Toyota-esque grille, new LED headlamps and turn signals, and a redesigned bumper.

There’s also a new rear bumper and LED taillamps. Badges sporting 86 logos adorn the front fenders and are integrated with the headlamps.

The interior features a new soft material -- Toyota calls it “Grandlux” -- in the door inners and instrument panel surround, a welcome upgrade from the current appointments, which have drawn criticism for excessive use of hard plastics. The seats also receive softer new upholstery, picked out with silver stitching, and, should anyone forget that this is a Toyota 86, there’s an 86 logo in the steering wheel hub.

Agility Enhancements

It’s not all cosmetics. Output of the Subaru-supplied 2.0-liter flat four engine gets a small bump, 5 horsepower and 5 pound-feet of torque, raising peak numbers to 205 and 196, respectively. The increase applies only to models with the standard 6-speed manual transmission; those equipped with the optional paddle shift 6-speed automatic are unchanged. Also, chassis engineers have revised the spring rates and shock absorber damping for better transient response.

Toyota plans to reinforce the car’s street cred with a factory-supported effort in the 2016 Formula Drift competition. However, the production car won’t be in showrooms until the spring of 2016. There was no word on pricing for the 86 at the New York show. MSRPs for the 2016 FR-S start at $26,100.


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