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The Scion FR-S is Dead—Long Live the New Toyota 86!

Zippy, 2017 model-year sports coupe gains retro name, marginally more power.

In honor of its baptism into the true Toyota family, the Scion FR-S is being re-christened. Let it be heard: From this day forth, the boxer-engined two-door shall be known as the Toyota 86. The name change means The Car Formerly Known As FR-S will now go by, more or less, the same moniker everywhere on Earth.

In addition to the name change, the 2017 Toyota 86 also picks up a handful of minor upgrades designed to punch up the aging-but-still-entertaining Toyobaru platform. The 2.0-liter boxer four picks up a stunning 5 horsepower and 5 lb–ft of torque. The front and rear fascia have been reconfigured to make the car look a tad more feisty, with new LED lamps, altered bumpers, and a bigger, angrier air intake. The shocks and springs have been tweaked to make the car more agile. And not only does the interior receive new seating material and greater use of “Grandlux” trim, bit it also scores a whole bunch of new “86” badges!


The loss of the old FR-S name is hardly worth crying over, as the title never had much in the way of brand equity or meaning. Even Scion didn’t seem to care what it meant. Officially speaking, the name stood for Front-engine, Rear-drive, Sport, but at the car’s 2011 launch, Scion’s then-majordomo Jack Hollis quipped that the name stood for “friggin’ really sweet.” When the best explanation for your car’s name resembles a Peter Griffin compliment, you may not have a great moniker on your hands.

The “86” name, in case you fell asleep while trying to make it through that book on Toyota history, stems from the Corolla AE86 of the mid-1980s. That car was a lightweight, rear-drive compact beloved by many, including /DRIVEB.M.O.C. Mike Spinelli. (We know this because we’ve seen him wearing a T-shirt with an AE86 on it.) Elsewhere in the world and in honor of that car, the sport coupe was known as the 86, the GT86, or the FT86—but not in the U.S., where it was shoved into Scion’s showrooms and given a typically nonsensical Scion name.

The 2017 Toyota 86 will make its debut at the 2016 New York International Auto Show in a week. That’s about how long it’ll take us to stop calling it the FR-S, so the timing works out well.