Toyota Will Challenge the Mazda Miata Directly With Its S-FR Sports Car: Report

The tiny two-door dropped as a concept nearly a decade ago looking extremely close to production. Now, a report claims it’s been given the green light.

byJames Gilboy|
Toyota News photo


Way back in 2015, Toyota tantalized us with the prospect of a Mazda MX-5 competitor called the S-FR concept. This big-mouthed sports car promised two-plus-two seating in an even smaller, lighter package than the 86, contrasting the two-seat Mazda. Though the S-FR fell off the radar, Toyota apparently didn't forget about it, as Japanese media indicates the S-FR is finally cleared for production.

Citing Best Car Magazine, which typically publishes original reporting in print before sharing it online, Forbes says the S-FR will launch in late 2026 or early 2027. It's reported to be in co-development with Daihatsu and Suzuki, which were previously rumored to be working on a small, mid-engined model together. It seems that project has evolved into a more conventional front-engined, rear-wheel-drive coupe that'll become the S-FR—with a larger, more powerful engine.

Specifically, the S-FR is reported to use a three-cylinder turbo engine making around 150 horsepower to turn the rear wheels. Curiously, rumors of a revived Toyota Starlet with a GR performance version specify a similar engine; 150 hp from a 1.3-liter engine downsized from the one in the GR Corolla. This also matches the displacement of the engine in the Daihatsu Vision Copen concept from October, which would seem to preview Toyota's next sports car. Or, at least, Daihatsu's version of it.

The S-FR's design will reportedly be overhauled for production with a smaller grille and altered headlights. There was no word as to the potential implementation of the S-FR Racing concept pictured above, with its aggressive rear wing, canards, splitter, and diffuser. These could feasibly be offered as accessories, or even as exclusives on a hypothetical GR model. That's purely speculative on our part, though.

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Price-wise, Toyota is reportedly targeting the equivalent of $22,700. That wouldn't just undercut the Mazda MX-5 by around $6,000, but also make it one of the cheapest new cars on sale in the U.S. period—if it makes it here. Toyota is reportedly undecided about selling the S-FR in the States, where it already sells the similar GR86. Offering both could easily cannibalize sales, potentially without taking as much share of Mazda's pie as intended.

There's also the question of where it'd fit with the supposed Celica reboot, which could culminate in a thrifty, fun, rear-wheel-drive coupe to compete with the Honda Prelude. It too seems like it'd contend for S-FR and GR86 customers, weakening the prospects for all involved. If the S-FR does come around, my money's on it staying out of the States, just like the Starlet is supposed to. I mean, with Mazda locking down the small sports car market, and the GR86 addressing one size up, why even bother?

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