Well, this has to be the most interesting news to come out of Toyota since the announcement that it would be racing two Sienna minivans in this year’s One Lap of America. Over the years, rumors had been circulating about whether a bubble-backed FR-S would ever see the light of day. Well, now we have proof that it does indeed exist; Toyota just released pictures and specs on the little corner hugger, and damn does it look sharp.
The 86 Shooting Brake concept was unveiled in Australia, which makes sense considering the concept was conceived and developed by the Toyota Australia Product Design team. The little hatch was then handed over to the brand’s global sports car division, and the team hand-built the car in Japan.
The car was revealed in Sydney by Toyota’s global chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, and is the brainchild of Toyota Australia’s design chief Nicolas Hogios and his team. Instead of going overboard and re-crafting the entire car, Hogios’s team only tweaked the rear quarter and roof, making the conscious decision to retain as many of the car’s original lines as possible.
This means the little four-banger still looks aggressive and sporty, but now offers a more practical approach. With this design, owners can carry things like surfboards, bikes, or storage pods on top of the roof rack, and the addition of a larger opening in the back allows easier stowing and unloading.
“The Toyota 86 lends itself perfectly to a concept that expands its appeal with added versatility while retaining its sleek and sporty coupe styling and sharp, responsive driving character,” says Brad Cramb, Toyota Australia’s divisional manager of national marketing. “The Shooting Brake concept is a classy option for active couples or a second car for families who want something different. Equally suited to weekends away as well as the track, it’s a car you could buy with your head and your heart.”
Meanwhile, Tada says he was inspired to pursue the project when a small scale clay model was shown to him during a business trip to Australia in late 2014. “I was totally surprised,” Tada explains, “I liked it so much I arranged for my expert takumi prototype craftsmen to hand-build the Shooting Brake concept based on the Australian design. The concept car is a fully functional, driveable vehicle that has been put through its paces on Toyota test tracks. The nicely weighted and direct steering of the 86 ensures the car retains the involving drive experience of the coupe with a slightly more neutral feel in tight corners on a driver’s favorite road.”
While there’s no word on production, Tada did say that Toyota plans to “gauge global reaction to the concept,” which is a promising sign for those of you who dig this look. Hell, this might be just what the Japanese automaker needs in order to boost sales of the Scion FR-S/Toyota GT, which continues to sell slowly across America.
“While we never say never,” Tada explains, “I would love this concept to become a production reality, it is very much a concept that demonstrates the passion within Toyota for cars that are fun to drive.”