Toyota S-FR

by DANIEL DEGASPERI

Lighter and brawnier than the new MX-5 LOOK BEYOND the Hello Kitty styling and say hello to a smaller rear-wheel drive sibling to the Toyota 86.

The S-FR (which stands for sports, front-engine, rear drive) aligns with a Mazda MX-5 in length (3.9 metres, a substantial 242mm shorter than the 86) but not width (1.695m is 40mm narrower than MX-5 and 85mm short of the other Toyota coupe).

The S-FR can seat four, though we reckon it would be a bit of a squeeze back there. The dashboard wouldn’t look out of place in a Yaris, but importantly a six-speed manual transmission is standard. It even has 50:50 weight distribution and allindependent suspension.

A Tokyo Motor Show (taking place late October/early November this year) reveal is imminent as we go to press, so further details have been leaked, not confirmed. Through the sieve comes news of a 97kW 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine, just 1kW more than the Mazda, while a 980kg kerb weight places it 29kg lighter.

Toyota insists the S-FR is a concept only, but it’s rumoured to be a preview of a new modular rear-drive platform that would have to be amortised across several models, potentially a new 86 ‘family’.

Clearly company head (and enthusiast) Akio Toyoda wasn’t fibbing when he said Toyota must produce more fun-to-drive models.

The S-FR, according to a statement: “Continues the proud heritage of Toyota's fun-to-drive lightweight sportscars … [it] attracts its own diehard fan base, whose members love driving and customising it.”

“The concept offers smooth, responsive and direct handling that gives a real sense of communication between car and driver … and aims to make a whole new generation fall in love with driving.”

At this rate we too may soon fall in love with the new Toyota.